During the late hours of the first Friday back on campus, the Underground - usually a quiet space where students can study and chat - was unrecognizable. Transformed for Funk Nite, the space had become an intimate club complete with mood lighting, raucous dancing and blasting music. Manning the booth that produced freshly spun tracks were Area 6 (Ryan Glassman '15) and DJ MELA (Nikos Melachrinos '15), the founding members of the Brown DJ Alliance.
The Brown DJ Alliance was formed in the fall of 2011 after Glassman and Melachrinos DJed SexPowerGod. They subsequently worked together for other parties and soon realized that the Brown DJ community had no forum through which to network and share ideas, Melachrinos said. The duo started the alliance to fill that void.
"It's a really clean way of making sure everyone's needs are met," Glassman said. The group provides DJs with opportunities to distribute and promote their new mash-ups and mixes via parties and Facebook and is a resource for finding DJs for parties, he said. In a cycle of reciprocity, people who host parties at an official Brown or downtown venue offer the DJs money, and if not, they offer promotion.
"The sum is more than the parts," Melachrinos said. "We can share equipment, share music, make mixes together, and bringing all of this knowledge together creates more than individually every DJ by himself."
According to its founders, the group came about at a fitting time. As electronic music becomes more and more popular, more and more people are taking up DJing, they said. And with the rise of artists like DJ and house music producer David Guetta, who fuses pop and hip-hop with electro music, this movement only seems to be getting stronger.
"Electronic music is skyrocketing here in the States ... DJs are the new rock stars, and you see a lot of DJs coming out," Melachrinos said. "This group is kind of the natural progression."
The group meets this growing interest in the art of spinning and mixing by hosting lessons for aspiring DJs. "Last semester I had seven or eight people in my room," Melachrinos said. "We kind of had a little session and learned some basics."
The group - which now boasts around 15 active members who spin a variety of styles of music such as electro-progressive house, dubstep and hip-hop - also plans on creating a monthly mix featuring popular songs. This not only provides the community with mash-ups, but also allows the DJs to work together on projects. "We record it live, and at a certain point we each sub out. It's like four hours of doing this ... which is always a lot of fun," Glassman said.
The group will continue to DJ Funk Nites in the Underground, and they said they hope to update the events into something more appealing to the modern student body. "It's a kind of long-standing tradition at Brown," Melachrinos said of Funk Nite. "I think it is going to represent the new wave that is going on, much more electronic, house music and less pop."
He promised the group was "going to make a lot of fun out of it."
Sean Simonson '15 said the group did just that at the first event. "I think everyone was having a great time. It was definitely really good dance music," he said, adding that after seeing the DJs' work at Funk Nite and SexPowerGod, "they would be (his) go-to people" if he were to host an event.
The DJs said Funk Nites will allow individuals to show off their music and get their name out. After the DJs become more well-known around campus, they said they hope to host their own parties. "We would find the space and, of course, provide the DJs and sick equipment and throw something really big," Melachrinos said.
In the more distant future, the leaders have discussed hosting a festival at Pembroke Field featuring their own music. "If (Brown DJ Alliance) were to put on a festival, we really could do it in the context of DJ sets and dance music, so we wouldn't have to worry about pleasing everyone," Glassman said, comparing this potential event to Spring Weekend, which has to offer acts that appeal to the variety of tastes of the student body.
As time progresses, the leaders said they hope the group will continue to grow, and they encourage DJs around campus to join. "I feel we've done a good job in making sure you never have to sacrifice anything for Brown DJs," Glassman said. "The real purpose of it is to build up the DJs on the campus individually."