By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
South Florida is home to thousands of DJs, both the big-name and the bedroom variety. Sure, female DJs get behind the decks, but many are marketed as hot, busty eye candy. DJ Soozin sits at the opposite end of the table. In fact, she's not even at the table. She's in the kitchen, and she prefers to simmer rather than boil over. She doesn't care about groupies, drugs, or electro-fads; Soozin simply wants to rock the house with funky bass lines, techno beats, and a fistful of shut-up-and-dance. "I just try to play good music that people are going to dig," she explains.
Female DJs in South Florida are few and far between. Several collectives have started across the country, including Sister SF in San Francisco and Superjane in Chicago. But the disparity in numbers in the 954 hasn't discouraged Soozin; she's been spinning records in nightclubs almost as long as she's been legal. She landed her first DJ residency at Full Circle (later Bleu) in Gainesville while she was earning a psychology degree at the University of Florida. "I really enjoyed it," the 23-year-old brunet recalls of her first time. "It also taught me that there's a business side to it. If you want to be a DJ, you have to understand and be able to deal with the business aspect, because you're working for a club owner, and that club owner wants to make money."
After returning to South Florida from college, Soozin infiltrated the electronic scene. "I went around and gave some CDs out," she says, "but there are so many other people doing the same thing and plenty of DJs who know the owners and managers of clubs." Eventually, she met a few like-minded, music-loving individuals who also happened to be promoters, and she was quickly hired to spin at some of the poolside parties in Miami Beach during this year's Winter Music Conference.
For a full-time student working on her master's degree at Nova Southeastern University and working a day job as a financial aid counselor, she manages to spend a lot of quality time with her decks. In addition to her Sunday-evening web cast (Speakers Gotta Get Some, Too, from 8 to 10 p.m. on pulseradio.net) and a Wednesday-night radio show (Welcome to My House, from 9 to 11 p.m. on WNSU-FM (88.5)), Soozin is the resident catalyst for Ignite Thursdays at Lush (3074 NE 33rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale), the swanky dance club near Fort Lauderdale Beach.
As for her spinning style, Soozin is reluctant to embrace any particular label. "House music is where my heart is," she says, "but house as a genre is so huge, and it encompasses so many different sounds; to say that I'm a house DJ is like -- 'What the hell does that mean?' I play stuff that has some feeling, some character, whether that's progressive house or tech or tribal or freakin' electro or Madonna. I go with how it feels, the kind of vibe I get from the crowd. I just let the night take me."
So, say it's a particularly dead night at a club. No one's dancing. A DJ's worst nightmare. According to Soozin, having your own party revival soundtrack is essential. Some of her musts include Madonna's "Vogue" ("I love Madonna, and this is one of the best damn dance songs ever written!"), Miss Kittin and the Hacker's "Frank Sinatra" ("my introduction to both artists and just a killer, twisted, dark, electrohouse track"), Dubtribe Sound System's "Do It Now," Resonance 44's "Summer in Space" ("deep and lovely and just feels good"), and DJ Rasoul's "Love's Theme."
Although she's been thoroughly immersed in club culture for years now, much of her early musical schooling occurred in the local electronica underground. That means raves, kids. "I spent most of the late '90s hitting every party in South Florida," Soozin says. "I loved the rave scene dearly. I met wonderful people, had awesome experiences, and found my heart in the music. I did this all sober, I might add."
Her exposure to many different sub-sub-subgenres of dance music influenced her as a DJ, but the all-ages debauchery of rave culture affected Soozin too. "I eventually got tired of seeing 15-year-olds all whacked out and not giving a shit about the tunes, just lying on the floor, wasted," she says. "[I] started going to hear my music out at clubs where the crowd was older. The drugs were there too, but people seemed to handle themselves better, and it wasn't as obvious."
Whether her listeners are sauced or straight, Soozin plays with a passion. "I don't like boring music," Soozin declares. Her ultimate motivation as a DJ? "Having a full dance floor," she says. "It doesn't get much better than that."