NEW YORK — DJ Dimitri from Paris hates flying, though you’d never know it. Summer is to the DJ what late October is to the pumpkin farmer, and Dimitri, that suave master of dance beats, will log some major in-flight hours. He’ll set out from his home in the City of Light, pop a sleeping pill and wake to Japan, to Norway, to England, to Spain, to Japan again, to Australia, to Singapore — all in the name of duty. But after 20 years behind a pair of turntables, there’s still nothing like the rush of getting the crowd up on its feet. “It’s extremely frustrating when people won’t dance,” he said one Saturday after a late night at Centro-fly. “Last night, people started out reserved, but once you turn them on to something, they’re yours for the night.”

Of course, what the mixmaster serves up isn’t just house music. It’s his house music — sexy, lush and laid-back — like the remixes on his latest two-disc release “After the Playboy Mansion.”

This story first appeared in the June 7, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“The most important thing is to get people to dance to your tunes, not the ones they already know or the ones that are on the radio,” he says. “The trick is to make them dance to things they wouldn’t normally dance to. That’s when the night gets magical.”

Australians are the wildest on the dance floor, he says, but the best break-dancers hail from Japan and France. And the Italians know how to shake it with high style.

“They always get really dressed up in Italy,” says Dimitri. “You can tell that a night out means something to them and it’s really pleasing to the eye.”

Still, it’s New York’s reawakening club scene that intrigues Dimitri the most. “Under Giuliani, so many clubs closed,” he muses. “The new mayor seems much more open. Everybody is standing by, waiting for the next wave. New York used to be the clubbing capital of the world in the late Seventies and Eighties, and it could regain that status.”

Unlike some youngsters working the circuit, Dimitri, 38, remembers New York’s glory days. For those who don’t, he recommends two beat-packed primers: DJ Danny Krivit’s album “Grassroots” and Francois K’s “Choice.”

“There is a history of rock, a history of hip-hop, but there is no history of house music,” says Dimitri. He knows he sounds less like a nightclub king than the proverbial wise man on the hill.

“It’s important to pass the knowledge to the younger generation,” he sighs. “That’s how you create culture and history. It can’t all just disappear into air.””

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