ATLANTIC CITY — DJ Dramadik delighted the crowd during a recent Saturday night inside C5 at the Chelsea Hotel with a trip back to the music of the 1990s.
The DJ, whose real name is David Allmond, could have been spinning the same songs in someone’s backyard 15 years ago as he pulled out tunes by rappers Slick Rick, House of Pain and Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock and R&B singer Montell Jordan. Allmond gave his dancing audience a sonic show of his hip-hop skills as he demonstrated his scratching technique during “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and dropped in the intro to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”
“I call myself a mixmaster. I take it back old school. Anybody can be a DJ, but are you a mixmaster?” asked Allmond, 34.
The fact that this was happening in a nightclub here and not at a house party shows the club scene growth in southern New Jersey in the last five years.
Electronic, house and club music’s popularity and the proliferation of nightclubs that hire DJs has created more opportunities than ever for turntablists to apply their specialized skills. Local DJs are finding themselves swept up in and benefiting from the new frenzy surrounding dance culture.
Caesars Entertainment alone has a flow of 50 DJs working in 21 different venues within the four casinos here, said Howard Weiss, director of nightlife operations strategy and development for the Eastern Division of Caesars Entertainment. Only top DJs can win a prestigious gig such as spinning at Dusk and The Pool, but a DJ with only a local following can get into one of Caesars Entertainment’s bars, lounges or restaurants, Weiss said.
“The last couple of years have been very interesting,” said Weiss, who came back to this resort 2½ years ago after three years in Las Vegas. “Clubs have been marketing DJs.”
Jim Tremayne, editor-in-chief of DJ Times Magazine has been coming here for 20 years for the International DJ Expo. He can’t say where this resort lands on the spectrum relative to other markets, but he has talked to DJs who have played here during the last couple of years, and they really like doing it because they like the audiences in this 24-hour city.
“They really love to play in front of people out to have a good time, whether it’s the Casbah, or the Borgata, or wherever it is,” Tremayne said.
The city’s vibrant nightclub scene means clubgoers can dance to tunes spun by the some of the most famous Djs in the nation. Turntable stars who have appeared in the casinos here include Samantha Ronson, Steve Aoki, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Ruckus, DJ Chachi, Sky Nellor, DJ Roonie G and and DJ Paul Castro.
But with so many nightclubs and lounges attracting patrons, there is plenty of opportunity for skilled local DJs to find work.
DJ Vito G, born Jason Migliacci, 32, of Mays Landing, is one of the locals who has benefited from the increased demand for DJs.
Migliacci started in 2003 in the now-defunct Zoom club in Margate. He began mostly playing in 2Now; he does a live mix show 6 p.m. every Friday on WRDW-FM 96.5. He also was named Atlantic City’s No. 1 DJ for his residency every Wednesday at The Pool at Harrah’s. He also has appeared at Dusk inside Caesars Atlantic City.
Making it big
Depending on the skill level, a DJ gig in a nightclub pays between $400 and $1,000 with big names making as much as $20,000. Migliacci said. A DJ working at the restaurant, lounge or bar level can make about $500 in a night, Allmond said.
The addition of more nightclubs to the casinos have made Migliacci’s life better.
“I started off more in a hip-hop lane. I realized that’s not really my lane,” Migliacci said. “When I started playing dance and mixing it up, I got on the radio. I have bi-monthly residencies in Las Vegas now. I’ve been traveling.”
Migliacci said he plays a mixture of hip-hop and house music, which is popular in the casino nightclubs.
Some local DJs, such as DJ Fah D, born Faheem Davis, don’t have a steady casino gig, but they can be found around town.
Davis, who lives in Atlantic City, along with fellow city DJ A-Wizz provided the music to the after-party in the East Tower Ballroom at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino for those age 21 and older following the Jay-Z and Kanye West “Watch The Throne” show on Nov. 19 at Boardwalk Hall.
Ashley Redfearn, 23, also of Atlantic City, stood during the morning of Nov. 20 waiting to enter the ballroom. In her BCBG Max Azria striped blue and black dress with a black BCBG blazer, Redfearn came to the concert after-party because Fah D was the DJ, and she believed the event would be hot.
“He’s real good. He knows what we want to hear. He relates to us,” Redfearn said.
Redfearn has seen Davis at Club Stardust in Wildwood and at the 40/40 Club, but she gives herself a more eclectic dance experience every couple of months by visiting mur.mur in Borgata. She has been in clubs where Rev. Run, Joseph “Run” Simmons of Run-D.M.C., has been the DJ and also Jazzy Jeff, who made his name when he teamed up with an aspiring rapper named Will Smith to form the hip-hop group DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
Those other DJs may be famous, but Davis “is just as good, if not better,” Redfearn said.
The rise in the number of places here employing DJs also means DJs from outside southern New Jersey are attracted to the money to be made.
Tropicana Casino and Resort brings DJs into its Rumba Lounge & Party Pit and Tango’s Lounge.
The casino uses DJs that either have a large following or who are supplied from various entertainment companies. The DJs come from this state, Philadelphia and New York, said Rachele McCall, Tropicana’s manager of special events and entertainment director.
“Up-and-coming DJs are just as important as DJs who have already made it big. It’s easy if you have the talent and following,” McCall said.
DJ Sashi, of Mays Landing, is an up-and-coming DJ who works everywhere from Redding’s Restaurant on Pacific Avenue to Prohibition nightclub in Resorts. DJ Sashi is starting her professional DJ career at a time when there many places that want a DJ’s services, but there are also many people out there doing it.
“When I first started, I thought it was going to be harder to get in. It was still a push to get in. I’ve done everything myself, going out there every day and sending off my music or trying to get an agency to sign me to them,” said DJ Sashi, born Sasha Jackson, 23. “Finally, I got gigs at Prohibition. Now, that I’m making a name for myself and people are starting to hear me, it’s getting a lot easier.”
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