Head Spins: DJ Keoki

The original superstar DJ makes a move to South Beach.

Not many DJs can boast a big-screen portrayal by Wilmer Valderrama. Then again, not many DJs can brag about surviving some of the most decadent nights of 1990s New York clubland either. But both are the case with DJ Keoki, who spun his way through nights so depraved that they eventually ended in murder.

No, Keoki didn't do the killing. But he was the resident DJ at Limelight's infamous Disco 2000 party, not to mention any other riotous club-kid bacchanal that happened to be happening. Thus, he basically provided the soundtrack for the wrath that club-kid kingpin Michael Alig wrought.

You know the sordid story, made all the more infamous by Party Monster, a biopic based on insider James St. James' memoir Disco Bloodbath. The flick starred Macaulay Culkin as Alig, Seth Green as James, and Valderrama as Keoki, Alig's former flame and original superstar DJ. And it made those clubs kids the thing they most desired (beyond drugs): legendary.

The events portrayed therein happened a long time ago, though, eons in the annals of nightlife. And after Alig got locked up for murder and the rest of New York's club kids outgrew their diapers, Keoki went on to play gigs in just about every beat-soaked outdoor festival in the world.

Once the raves died down, though, Keoki found himself at yet another crossroads. So he shuffled off to Los Angeles, where, of course, house is virtually unheard and DJs don't get nearly the acclaim they deserve. Hardly a town for a cat who now plays "minimal maximal" dance music.

So Keoki moved here, to South Beach, and set up shop in Jason Tyler's just-opened club Chicago. Tyler basically gave Keoki the run of the place, offering him any night he'd like. Keoki chose Monday, preferring to work his way into the scene and play for those who can appreciate what's playing. The night's called Disco Apocalypto, and in addition to the wild-eyed crazies normally associated with anything Keoki does, it's a perfect spot for cool industry folk to gather without having to fight off the weekend's madding crowd.

Disco Apocalypto also happens to be the place where Keoki gets to show what he's made of. See, he came up under the tutelage of Mark Kamins, the Danceteria DJ responsible for Sire's signing of Madonna. Kamins not only produced Madge's "Everybody" but also spun at every Big Apple hot spot of the era, from Danceteria to Area, Mars to the World. And Keoki came along to them all, as apprentice and head spinner. Then came Alig and the club kids and those long, drawn-out nights at Limelight's Disco 2000.

These nights, you're just as likely to find Keoki spinning something au courant from Systematic's Marc Romboy or a new take on the Cure's oft-sampled "Lullaby" as you are to find him playing a classic like New Order's "Blue Monday" or Lil' Louis' "French Kiss." But don't think for a second that the superstar has lost one ounce of his wildness — or his skills. So if you're even considering losing yourself on a South Beach Monday, swing through and give him a listen. Who knows? You just may find what you've been looking to hear all along.

DJ Keoki's Current Top Five:

1. "Apocalypse (Original Mix)," Arno Cost & Norman Doray

2. "Ey Mind," Marc Romboy featuring Mr. K-Alexi

3. "Mr. Decay (Robert Babicz Universum Disco Mix)," Gui Boratto

4. "Lullaby (Pig and Dan Remix vs. DJ Junior Faria Bootleg)," the Cure

5. "Hate (Original Mix)," Adam Freeland

 
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