NEW YORK — Once they would have traded it all to run off and join a rock band. But these days, New York’s serious fashionistas get their kicks behind the turntable. Monthly parties thrown for the media elite at the SoHo Grand and at Glass give the most popular editors and designer reps in the pack a chance to play DJ for the night. And many are hungry for more.
When Marissa Cortes left her post as head of Louis Vuitton’s press office earlier this year, her move from the fashion industry to that electronic underground felt like a natural choice.
“Just as fashion designers expand into home lines and beauty, for fashion people, DJing is a way to express their tastes,” says Cortes, who besides spinning a few times a month at clubs herself now represents professionals like DJ Will. “These are people who know how to express style, and playing records and CDs is just one way of showing it.”
For those who are ready to bring the crowd to their feet, but aren’t quite sure where to start, there’s Scratch DJ Academy in SoHo, founded last year by Rob Principe, Jason Mizell (aka Jam Master Jay of Run DMC) and Reg E. Gaines, the author of “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk,” and already the premiere school in the country.
“DJing is an art form,” Principe explains. “You need the same discipline and training that you’d need to learn to play the guitar or the piano. You can’t just go out and buy an expensive turntable. It’s not so obvious how it all works.”
Under the tutelage of big-name turntablists like Jam Master Jay or Mista Sinista, students enrolled in Scratch’s six-week beginner course learn it all, from the history of DJing to scratching and beatmaking. The technique: classic vinyl played on a pair of Numark turntables. But intermediate classes even delve into DJ philosophy. “Our club class deals with the philosophy of playing in a club,” Principe adds. “We go through what to do if you run out of records or if everyone leaves the dance floor.” For the truly dedicated, there’s also a Slip Mat Studies symposium.
The fall semester begins Sept. 7, though private tutoring is also available. “I have a guy flying in from Detroit to take lessons every Saturday next semester and a woman flying in from San Francisco,” says Principe. “I have everyone from 13-year-old white girls to graffiti artists to investment bankers coming in.
“DJs are the new rock stars,” he adds. “Everyone wants to do it.”