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What happens when you combine three quirky DJs, a bottle of George Dickel Tennessee whisky, a swanky downtown dance club peppered with white couches, girls in hot pants, and male bonding? A totally hot dance party, that's what. Add a DJ booth adorned with Jesus bobble-head dolls, crates of new and old vinyl, DJs Sean Weeks, Chris Hernandez, and Shea Smith, and you have what the kids are calling Traffic,a monthly jam at Karma Lounge.
Traffic began a little over a year ago at Lush, formerly the Bulldog Lounge, in Fort Lauderdale. After spinning various nights with other DJs, Weeks, an art director and designer for Empire Musicwerks who resembles a disheveled Luke Wilson, was offered his own Saturday nights at Lush. He saw this as a chance to form a new and improved version of Traffic; he added co-conspirator Smith, a daytime CPA who has a knack for dancing with his hands in his pockets, and Hernandez (aka Nandez), who has an unhealthy yet intriguing fixation with Jesus, into the mix. The night then moved to Karma, where Weeks spins drum and bass, Smith handles UK garage and two-step, and Nandez drops some funky house.
Smith had dabbled behind the decks while attending graduate school at the University of Florida. He was invited by Gainesville's own DJ Dimitri to spin various nights at Simons, the infamous dance club in Gainesville. It wasn't long before he had his own night at Soul House, another downtown club.
Nandez, who had no prior DJ experience, roomed with Smith while earning his engineering degree at UF. He now spends his weekdays working as a child advocate for a local nonprofit organization, yet he acknowledges being exceedingly superficial and admits he will never buy a girl a drink. He won't elaborate on the reasons why but offered a little insight into the simmering psychosexual tension among these friends. "There is a huge rivalry between the three of us," Nandez said before his set at last month's Traffic. "And there is also a kind of a weird love-triangle thing going on." Unrequited love aside, his goal for Traffic remains simple -- to see some smiles, some dancing, and maybe a little lewd bathroom behavior. "I could care less about the scene points we have," he says. "I'm just here to have a good time and hang out with my friends." He then quickly scampers off to perform some sort of interpretive dance in Karma's gauzy white curtains.
About once a month, the crew flies in some up-and-coming guest DJs; East Coast Boogiemen, LawnChair Generals, and Heather have all jammed with Traffic. Nandez and Weeks usually greet DJs at the airport with their trademark bottle of Dickel whisky. They have become so well-known for this that now they don't even have to say a word; the DJs greet them by taking a swig. "It's been very successful, and each time we do it becomes more entertaining, to say the least," Weeks says between sets. "We're all friends and work really well together. It's a really cool vibe in the club, which is something that is important in having these sorts of events." He then grabs the microphone from behind the DJ booth and shouts "It's a friggin' celebration!" He repeats that phrase at random points during the night, fueling the sweaty throng to throw their hands in the air. A few of them even wave 'em like they just don't care.
In addition to six hours of booty-quakin' tunes, a night in Traffic means you'll get to see the "Traffic dancers," two guys who have religiously attended every DJ event Smith has ever been involved with and who dance right in front of the DJ booth the whole night. The Traffic DJs even take to the floor between sets, busting out moves such as the Roger Rabbit, the Sprinkler, and Smith's famous hands-in-pockets shuffle, which has reportedly been spotted at dance clubs as far away as Brazil. Not down with Karma's "proper attire" requirement? No biggie. Or as Nandez so delicately puts it, "There's not a strict dress code; just don't dress like an a-hole." These DJs may not save your life tonight, but at least they'll entertain.