An American DJ in Oz: An Incredible Gig Abroad [+ Photos]

By Julie Oshins – Play It Forward

As soon as I knew I would be working in Australia for five weeks (primarily for non-DJ-related work), I reached out to my community to connect me with friends here in Oz. One friend of a friend is a local DJ (Cassette Walkman) who also books DJs and asked me if I wanted to pick up a few “DJ shifts” while I was here. (Yes, please!!!!) I brought my controller on the plane (my case got a new sticker: “FRAGIL-Air New Zealand”), along with my power converters, my MacBook, a few XLR cables, and my headphones. Let’s GO! This is how I came to DJ at The Worker’s Club in Melbourne, and a Guns & Roses pre-party at Evie (on AC/DC Lane no less)!

The platform for Worker’s Club is classic rock, indie, and soul. Broad range, right? I wondered if “their indie” would be like “my indie.” Turns out, it was! (Think Artic Monkeys, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, The Killers, etc.). I also got to play some great alternative rock from the 80’s that I don’t often get to play (Aztec Camera, 10 inch Men, Stone Roses, The Colourfield, etc.) threw in some mash-ups, and got a little funky as well. Super fun! I got a lot of compliments from the patrons, and of course, the novelty of being an American (female) DJ in Oz. And that’s really the only novelty, because DJs and DJ opportunities are abundant here. Everyone is a DJ here.

In almost every alley in downtown Melbourne, there are alley bars. Every available rooftop has a party, and most venues have two to four floors where the parties happen, including four flights of stairs to get there! In my pub/club/lounge crawl Friday night, I visited 25 different clubs in one night in less than a 1-mile radius!

In Melbourne, it is ALL about the DJs and the music, not the venue. Not one place had a cover charge, and every venue had a full dance floor–even people dancing on tables and platforms. And there’s somewhere to go for every musical taste, including a “Cumbia Massive,” which made me feel right at home!

The vibe reminded me of going clubbing in Miami back in the late ‘80s, where it isn’t as much about someone hitting on you, or trying to pick you up, as it is about dancing. A stranger comes up and dances with you, and it’s just dancing. Sharing a groove, a moment of dance floor joy, nothing more.

Notably, my favorites were Section 8 (an alley bar—really just an outdoor patio—with great funk, soul, and hip hop), The Rooftop at Cookie (including an amazing view of the city), and The Carlton, which featured hip hop, breaks, and electro. The locals call electronic/dance music “Doof” (think 4 on the floor dance beat). It made me laugh every time I heard that.

There is a HUGE vinyl culture here, and many of the clubs feature turntablists that are actually using vinyl, not Serato vinyl. The DJ that came after me last night had two turntables and a case of 45’s!  Although across the board, most also had laptops plugged is as well, perhaps as an additional music source. Mac is an American brand, and most do not use or have Mac laptops, so my MacBook Pro was also kind of a cool thing. Who knew?

I was reminded again that music is the universal language. It’s that heartbeat that connects us all; music creates connectedness and community no matter where you are on this little planet we call home.

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