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Bright beams of colored light swirl and sweep across the crowded dance floor, illuminating sweaty, muscular bodies. The relentless bass is more than just loud; it's a full-body massage at 130 beats per minute. Neon green go-go dancers gyrate wildly on elevated platforms as artificial fog wafts around the room. Up in the DJ booth, an angelic creature surveys the frenzied, hedonistic scene below and smiles. Tracy Young is digging it.
You may have seen this blue-eyed, raven-haired, 20-something DJ milling around at Space nightclub in Miami last month wearing a Bon Jovi baseball T and sporting a mussed 'do. But Young's no slacker. She may have spun at Madonna's wedding in Scotland a few years ago, and she's remixed everyone from Pink to Enrique Iglesias. But Young, who lives in Miami and will perform at Fort Lauderdale's Coliseum this weekend, is no celebrity ass-kisser. She kills it on the dance floor. But she doesn't have an ego about it. Over the years, the energetic, photogenic Young has used her superstar powers for good. Besides playing the Millennium March on Washington, she has a history of spinning at parties benefiting groups such as the Mautner Project (mautnerproject.org), which provides care for lesbians with cancer, and the BBCM Foundation (bbcm.org), a Canadian nonprofit organization that supports HIV and AIDS direct-care facilities. "I love to give back to the community," she declares. "I give back in the best way I know how -- through benefits and my music. If it weren't for this community, I wouldn't be where I am."
In addition to lending her name and talents to primarily gay and lesbian charities, Young has helped raise money for other causes too. She did the Al Gore benefit on Miami Beach in 2000. She was part of 'NSync's South Florida fundraiser for the families of police officers and firefighters who died as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. More recently, Young was one of the headliners for "Last Night a DJ Saved Some Lives," an American Cancer Society benefit at Crobar in Miami Beach.
Young even started her own record label, Ferosh (as in ferocious, darling), when she was asked to mix an album for the White Party, Miami Beach's world-famous gay bash. "It's something I've wanted to do since I was in radio ten years ago," she says. "It just seemed like the right opportunity, and I really didn't want to do it unless it was on my own label so I could have complete creative control."
Besides offering obvious artistic advantages, Young's approach makes monetary sense. By cutting out dubious middlemen, Young ensured that the finished product, Flash Back Fast Forward, did more than just rock the house. "When you buy the CD," she explains, "half of [the profit] goes to pay expenses, and the other half goes to Care Resource, [a not-for-profit organization that provides counseling for the HIV-positive community]. It's not really a profitable project for my business, but..."
Young's not ready for beatification just yet -- she's providing the soundtrack for some deliciously decadent parties. In particular, Young is one of the stars of the Future Babylon tour, which rolls into the Coliseum this week. A spinoff of the popular Showtime series Queer as Folk, Future Babylon's website promises "elaborate visuals, décor, and backrooms." Fans of the sexy soap opera will understand.
"I got a call from the promoter who was putting it on... and he wanted me to be involved," Young says. "I had never even watched the show, so before I made my choice I wanted to look at it. I ended up really liking it, so I signed on.
"I've loved being involved for the past two years," Young adds. "It gives me the opportunity to reach a lot of people that I normally haven't. It's been a good experience. It's something new, something fresh. Instead of just going to a regular club and playing your records, there's a theme, and there's more to look at."
Fort Lauderdale may be where the boys are, but how does it compare to her home turf of Miami Beach? "It's a different community -- it really is," she says. "It's interesting how cities are so close, but they're so different. It's a nice group of people up there."
Nice? As Tina Turner once remarked, "We never ever do nothin' nice and easy. We always do it nice... and rough." The DJ with a heart of gold will undoubtedly bring a box full of bangin' records to town, but she leaves the selection up to your internal vibeometer. "I feed off the energy of the club," Young remarks. "Once I get there, if they want it really hard and tribal, I can sense that." Ferosh, indeed.