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Spinning Pretty

One of the first female DJs in South Florida, DJ Hana is used to fighting an uphill battle because of her looks.

"People would come into the club and say, 'Oh my god, what is she doing behind the mixer?' " the Valkyrie-esque she-jay recalls of her early days. "But then people thought it was cool to see a girl up there mixing vinyl."

Hana Besedova was already one of Europe's most sought-after DJs when she arrived in South Florida from her native Prague in 2001. Her sex-goddess physique, barely-there dress code, and cosmopolitan mix of funk, pop, and European house and trance rhythms made DJ Hana a perfect fit for the area's decadent multicultural party scene.

While her generally scant attire screams unabandoned promiscuity, she's sweet and demure, often giggling as she searches for the right word in English. When that fails and when she's unable to resort to the five other languages she speaks (Czech, Polish, German, Russian, and Italian), she follows her mother's advice for communication breakdown: Just smile.

"I'm the kind of DJ who plays according to the feeling of the crowd," she says in a syrupy accent. Musically, her style is a rather sexy, sensual mix -- a little world beat, a little funk, a little Euro-style house. Kind of like Hana herself.

"You have to have rhythm and you have to know how to feel the music," she explains. "In DJing, you have to be able to hear one song while imagining what song comes after it. It's training, but it's also talent."

Now a worldly 35-year-old icon, Hana says one of the biggest challenges for women DJs is proving they are "as good if not better than men, especially at mixing vinyl, because you must really know what you are doing." To help the cause, she recently established a grassroots DJ school geared mainly toward women trying to compete in the male-dominated music market.

Run out of Hana's beach house in Islamorada, the course consists of five three-hour classes involving spinning vinyl and programming, information on music styles and genres, music psychology, and her performance philosophy. Her technique demands the DJ learn to put selfish emotions aside in order to sense the crowd's vibe.

Between occasional gigs at Opium, Nikki Beach, Pearl, and Hollywood's Satine, DJ Hana plays the first Thursday of every month from 12 to 2 p.m. on the Miami Beach-based Internet radio station The WOMB. She spins Fridays at Club 112 in South Beach and Saturdays at Pierre's in Islamorada; she hosts a monthly full-moon party outside on the same property. On top of it all, she's also scheduled to return to this year's Winter Music Conference in March.

It's a busy schedule, and Hana is trying to find a balance between her nightclub career and her role as mother to a six-month-old son. "At 24 I was thinking I was too old for this, but people kept giving me great offers. If people like you and want your music, then you can't say no."

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Julienne Gage is a Miami-based anthropologist and journalist who has worked as a reporter and as a civil rights and international aid communications specialist in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. Her fieldwork has exposed her to many forms of cultural expression, and during her master’s in anthropology, she studied at Cuba’s Center for the Investigation and Development of Cuban Music.
Contact: Julienne Gage

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