DJ school set to open in Bethesda
Great DJs are like demigods around here: You depend on them to drop beats you've never heard before, and, if they're really on, to keep you moving long past last call. They provide the soundtrack for almost every night that we're out.
It's no wonder that practically everyone in this town with a full iPod and 15 records wants be a DJ, too.
Banking on the idea that the area is teeming with wannabe DJ Shadows, a pair of D.C.'s better-known turntablists are helping to launch a local DJ school modeled after New York's famed Scratch DJ Academy (which has branches in Miami and L.A.).
The Beat Refinery will be run by Chris Stiles (who, as DJ Stylus Chris, has regular gigs at Modern, Current and the 95 Live party at Steve's Barroom;) and Brian Sadiarin (better known by Eyebar and Ibiza patrons as DJ Geometrix or, for short, DJ Geo). It will be run out of Bethesda's Bach 2 Rock music school, and it opens May 3.
Stiles, who was one of the proprietors of DJ Hut, the late-great Dupont Circle go-to-spot for equipment and records, says he sees the school as the next step in his career (being a club DJ at age 50, he says, is not).
"Isn't this what we're supposed to be doing? Each one teach one?" he told me when I went to check out Beat Refinery's turntable-filled classroom last week. He was handpicked by Bach 2 Rock's chief exec Michael Chung last summer to curate the curriculum; Chung, a former DJ himself, had long wanted to launch a school for turntablists, and the moment seemed ripe.
For now, the school is offering an introductory course, Basic DJ Techniques. (Intermediate classes and a pair of Scratching & Turntablism courses are on the way). The classes -- each accommodating 8 to 10 students -- will be 90 minutes apiece, once a week for six weeks. Students can sign up for 18-and-older sessions, 18-and-younger sessions or choose one of the mixed classes. Sadiarin told me that every class, beginning on Day 1, will incorporate both traditional techniques and Serato Scratch Live, a "DJ emulation" software that some DJs publicly balk at, but if you look closely, many are using.
Which brings us to the pricetag: $375 for the intro course (private lessons are $76 an hour). It seemed pricey to me, so I checked in with Scratch in New York. The six-week introductory course there is $300, with each class clocking in at 70 minutes. So, it turns out, they're pretty comparable.
With so many self-taught DJs in town -- and I mean everyone from the fuzzy rockers playing vinyl-only nights at Velvet Lounge to the club DJs spinning "Single Ladies" -- we want you to weigh in.
D.C. DJs: Do you think would-be DJs need lessons to get in the booth? Do you wish you had something like this when you were cutting your teeth?
-- Lavanya Ramanathan
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