It was about nine years ago that Dean Caton first played music before hundreds of people at The Party Block in Ocean City, Md., and realized he had skills.
"I was like, 'Yeah, I can do this,'" says the 29-year-old from Eastampton, Burlington County. "I said, 'OK, I'm a DJ.'"
At the time, Caton was an undergrad at Wesley College in Dover, Del. Now he's better known as DJ Dnial, the resident turntablist on Friday nights at Casbah Nightclub, with regular sets at The Foundation Room and a debut this month at Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly.
Caton has been a musician his whole life, or at least since he banged on his first drum set at age 5.
He came up as a DJ with inspirations such as Rated R, a well-known radio DJ in Delaware, and Philadelphia area artists DJ Aktive, DJ Excel, DJ Jay Ski and Sat-One.
Over time, the open-format DJ has changed his style along with clubgoers' preferences.
"When I started we were all hip-hop guys," he says. "But the music scene's changed. I play more house music than I do hip-hop now, which I never would have thought would be the case years ago."
He says the genre's grown on him since, and he says artists like Calvin Harris, Bingo Players and Avicii have made some of his favorite party-starting tunes of the moment.
Lately he's been mixing in some of his own edits, with an eye toward eventually producing his own music.
"But that's a whole other level," he says. "I'm getting there. Slowly but surely."
April 13: Casbah Nightclub
April 20: Casbah Nightclub
April 21: Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly
April 27: Casbah Nightclub
Reveling in Revel: Caton said he's looking forward to his upcoming shows at Revel's first nightclub, Royal Jelly, because he thinks the upscale, trendy scene will allow him to venture outside the traditional boundaries of predictable Top 40 music. "I want to test out my musical knowledge," he says.
Frequent ferry miles?: Caton spends most of his time playing in Atlantic City, but this summer he will be splitting his time between here and Ocean City, Md.