Israeli-Iranian DJ group spins for peace in Berlin


It’s 4 a.m. at the famous Kater Holzig club and hundreds of beautiful young people are going crazy on the dance floor to the sound of heavy electronic beats.

To the casual clubber, it’s just another ordinary night out in Europe’s hottest city. But this gathering is far from ordinary. Many of those dancing are immigrants from two countries whose ongoing tensions could explode in the world’s face at any given moment.

Welcome to the first Iranian-Israeli techno party organized by the Iranian-Israeli collective No Beef.

It’s the kind of thing that could only happen in Berlin: Iranians and Israelis clubbing together inside a World War II-era German soap factory that now houses some of the city’s best parties, high, happy and sweaty, grinding it like there’s no tomorrow to tunes spun by DJs from Tehran and Tel Aviv.

A couple of them sit around a small campfire outside the main dance hall, on the banks of the Spree River, passing around sweet-smelling peace blunts and munching on hummus and Persian chicken stew prepared by a Persian-Jewish Israeli restaurateur.

The air is filled with small talk in Hebrew, Farsi and everyone’s common language, German. Nobody talks about politics or nuclear bombs. It’s just a bunch of young people sitting together, enjoying the moment and connecting to each other through the music.

It’s what connected the party’s two organizers, Reza Khani and Roy Siny.

Khani, 36, is a well-known figure in Berlin nightlife as the proprietor of a successful bar in the hip Kreuzberg neighborhood. Siny, 35, is a doctoral student at Potsdam University by day and a popular techno DJ by night.

The two first met at Khani’s bar. Siny was having a few drinks with his girlfriend and ended up playing a spontaneous set. Few words were exchanged, but the pair connected again on Facebook, at the bottom of a long comment thread about the situation in the Middle East.

Siny was engaged in a heated discussion with radical German anti-Israel activists. Khani, who was tired of seeing the argument popping up on his feed, messaged him privately and told him to take it easy.

“I told him he’s wasting his energy on people who have no real understanding of our reality,” Khani said. “That these guys are only interested in arguing, not in finding solutions. We started talking, and it was very clear we have much more in common than just our love for music.”

It was clear as well that Siny was different from other Israelis Khani had met — most of whom, he says, are suspicious and assume he must be an anti-Semite.

“Roy was on a completely different frequency,” Khani said. “We talked and talked and eventually decided we must do something together — something good that can bring other people like us together.”

Thus was born No Beef. Israeli Guy “Katzele” Kenneth and Iranians Namito Khalaj and Afagh Irandoost were the first to join. DJ Asaf Samuel (Michatronix) was hauled over from Tel Aviv to play the first party on Aug. 17. A massive queue of hundreds of people stretched 300 feet down the block.

“We decided we don’t want any kind of brochures or political talk in our party, just good music and good vibes,” Siny said. “I have been to many politically themed parties here in Berlin, and I really didn’t like them. You always see the same faces.

“The German left-wing scene is very closed and narrow-minded. It seems like people there get together not to have fun but because it’s part of some routine. Nothing good can come out of that. We wanted people coming to our party to feel at home and connect with each other, and I think we succeeded in that.”

After recovering from their first party, Siny and Khani sat down to plan a mutual trip to Israel — and another party. If someone had stumbled into the meeting, if would have been hard to tell who was the Israeli and who was the Iranian — except for the fact that Siny was wearing a Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC T-shirt. Germans can’t really tell them apart.

“We are similar in so many ways,” Khani said. “It’s not only how we talk or how we see things that are so alike. Iranians and Israelis have gone through a lot of tough experiences in their lives and it makes them, in a way, a bit melancholic. It’s something we don’t have in common with, let’s say, Canadians.”

Siny said Khani told him of his most vivid childhood memory — hiding from Iraqi bombers strafing Iran during the eight-year war between the countries. Siny had the same memory of running to the bomb shelter as Iraqi rockets fell on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

“Young Germans, for example, will never be able to understand that,” Siny said. “They lead very comfortable lives. They don’t know what war is. Many of them come to Berlin, they party, they sometimes study, they don’t really need to work, and they don’t even realize how privileged they are and always complain about the stupidest things. They’ve never had to struggle to survive like us.”

Both men say their parties are intended not only to bring together two peoples who have much in common, but also to show the rest of the world that Iranians and Israelis are not enemies — that there is, well, no beef.

“The truth is that historically speaking, Persians and Jews were never enemies,” Khani said. “What’s happening now is a result of Israeli policy in the occupied territories and of the Islamic radicalization in Iran. It’s all politics. It has nothing to do with the real will of the people.”

Will they ever be able to throw the same kind of party in Tel Aviv or Tehran?

Not in the near future, as far as the two friends can tell. Both agree that Berlin, where thousands of Iranian and Israeli immigrants live side by side, is the perfect location for them.

“My utopian vision, which might sound a little bit like a John Lennon song or a 12-year-old girl’s dream, is a world where race and religion play no importance and everybody lives together in harmony and peace,” Khani said. “Until that happens, Berlin is the closest thing there is.”

Steven Spielberg’s DJ kids


This might come as incredibly shocking news, but it appears — get ready for this — that Steven Spielberg’s kids are talented. Wonder where they get it from?

DJ siblings Sasha Spielberg, 23, and Theo Spielberg, 25, who make up the group Wardell, have just been signed with Jay Z’s company Roc Nation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They released the EP “Brother/Sister” earlier this year.

Sasha is the daughter of Spielberg and Kate Capshaw; Theo was adopted by Capshaw and later by Spielberg as well.

In addition to making music, Sasha has just sold a pilot to ABC called “Girls Without Boys,” which she co-wrote with John Goldwyn’s daughter Emily. If that’s not enough star power for you, Rashida Jones is producing.

It must be nice to have connections — and excellent genes.

Bands enter b’nai mitzvah music mix


While b’nai mitzvah parties have long featured DJs to mix tunes and rouse the crowd, some celebrants are choosing something else: teen bands.

Make all the One Direction or — for those of a certain age — New Kids on the Block jokes that you want, but this option for musical entertainment has big advantages; it’s competitive from a price perspective, according to Oscar Urrutia, founder of GEC Events and the main event organizer for June 15 Teen Party Expo in Long Beach at the Dome at the Queen Mary.

“A bar mitzvah DJ would charge roughly $1,000, and teen bands charge just the same or a little bit less. It’s something that people are trying and it’s different,” he said.  

Urrutia said several teen bands were introduced for entertainment at last year’s expo, and he found that many attendees were booking them for events.  

Jcity, a Los Alamitos-based teen pop band formed by Justice and Jazmine Lucero (facebook.com/Jcityofficial), is one band that will be performing at this year’s expo with the hope of booking more events. The brother/sister duo perform mostly at charity events or stage events with other bands, but also do carnivals and birthdays and recently performed at their first bat mitzvah.

“We would like to do more of them — bat mitzvahs are big,” Jazmine Lucero said.  

She said for parties they usually perform a mix of the top songs on iTunes mixed with a couple originals — “just energetic songs that kids can dance and sing with us; it gets the crowd more involved.”

Thousands of teens and parents are expected to descend upon the Teen Party Expo (teenpartyexpo.com) in search of the latest party trends and a swarm of vendors offering steep discounts on entertainment, music, décor and more.  Last year’s expo drew 3,000 parents and their teens from all over SoCal despite inclement weather; this year organizers are hoping for 5,000. 

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10.

In addition to the exhibition with 60-plus vendors, popular DJs (including DJ Drew and Manny On The Streets from “On-Air With Ryan Seacrest,” and DJ Eddie One from LA 96.3 FM) will be mixing and hosting on the main stage alongside five teen bands performing live, who are also vying to book future celebrations.  

Hiring a DJ for a bar or bat mitzvah remains a popular option. Urrutia, whose affiliated company GEC Street Team produces all the musical entertainment for Knott’s Berry Farm as well as private events, said that a new trend at b’nai mitzvah parties is that the DJs have to entertain the adults, too. 

“We’re finding now that people want to entertain the adults as well, so we try to do games and activities that bring the adults and the kids together,” he said.  

Besides classic games like “Name That Tune,” they often do a musical quiz show and their own invention of a game called “Saturday Morning Cartoons,” in which the DJ plays music from back in the day and today and asks quiz questions from both new and old cartoon series.  

“It brings memories back to the adults and gives them a chance to connect with their kids,” he said.   

Other aspects of celebrating the coming-of-age ritual will be addressed at the expo as well. Sam Robinson, owner of Flowers by Sam and a feature designer on WE’s “My Fair Wedding,” does flower arrangements for about 20 b’nai mitzvah each year, primarily at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood.

Robinson said that flower requests for b’nai mitzvah celebrations tend to be traditional: pink for bat mitzvahs and blue-and-white arrangements — in which Robinson mixes white roses with blue roses that have dye injected into the plant — for bar mitzvahs.

Sunflowers are also popular for parties with both genders, and he’s found that glitter and rhinestones are very popular for bat mitzvahs. He either mixes them with the bouquet or applies crystal ribbons to the vases.

“I need some bling,” he said.  

It’s no secret that planning b’nai mitzvah parties, along with other coming-out parties, like quinceañera and Sweet 16, can get complicated — and expenses. These events have been known to average $15,000 to $25,000 on the high end, according to expo organizers.

Party planning from A to Z


Preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah is hard work, involving years of intense study and the courage to lead an entire congregation in prayer. Organizing a party to celebrate this milestone — well, that’s no picnic either.

It can require meticulous planning and research so that the day represents the personality of the young person and is enjoyable for everyone. Before getting too caught up in the process, remember that the occasion is a religious observance for a 12- or 13-year-old, and the celebration should be consistent with such values. 

Where to begin? From the caterer to the DJ to your budget, here are some hints to help you get started. 

Thinking Ahead

Families should be members of a synagogue and enroll their child in Hebrew school three years prior to a bar or bat mitzvah. This will provide enough time for the serious preparation necessary for the big day — and for the celebration afterward. 

At Stephen S Wise Temple, a Reform congregation in Bel Air, b’nai mitzvah students pick a community service project they are passionate about a year in advance. 

“There needs to be focus on the meaning of the day and not getting too caught up in the celebration,” said Jennifer Smith, b’nai mitzvah and social justice coordinator at the synagogue. “Focus more on the ‘mitzvah’ and less on the ‘bar.’ ” 

It is possible to book the ceremony and celebration three years in advance, but one to two years ahead of time usually is sufficient. Choosing a date well in advance lessens the chance that your target date and time becomes unavailable. 

During this time, start thinking about your child’s style and what he or she thinks is important, so you can pick a theme that reflects this. 

First Things First

Once you have a date, estimate a general guest count and choose a desirable location. The number of guests can determine whether your venue is fitting. The first thing to reserve is the venue for the celebration and the caterer. If you don’t have these, then there’s no point in coordinating flowers, balloons and party favors. 

The date and location also are necessary information for the invitations, which should be sent out six to eight weeks prior to the event. If you book everything early enough, then it’s possible to send save-the-date cards to friends and family six to 12 months ahead of time. If you’ve already chosen a theme, this can also be incorporated into the invitations. 

How to Budget

Start by gauging a budget that is reasonable and prioritizing what is important to you. The party shouldn’t be about keeping up with the Joneses or require a large financial setback, but it should be carefully thought out. 

“People tend to think that they can do a lot of it on their own, but toward the last month or so they get overwhelmed,” said Vanessa Kovac, owner of 2K Event Productions.

Berlin DJ fired over alleged anti-Semitism


A Berlin radio station has fired a controversial disc jockey accused of anti-Semitism.

Berlin DJ Ken Jebsen, who recently wrote in a letter to a listener that he “knew who invented the Holocaust as PR,” was fired for “failing to adhere to journalistic standards,”
according to a statement from national broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg.

Jebsen, who for ten years played music, hosted local musicians and sometimes offered political commentary on his weekly KenFM show, landed in the news recently over an e-mail in which he made comments widely interpreted as Holocaust denial. He had also suggested on the air that the CIA orchestrated the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

After cancelling one broadcast and insisting that Jebsen submit all future political commentary to his editors, RBB decided to pull the plug when Jebsen reportedly did not keep to his side of the bargain.Jebsen’s immediate supervisor has quit his job.

RBB program director Claudia Nothelle told reporters this week that she had defended Jebsen against charges of anti-Semitism, but that “unfortunately we have found that many of his contributions don’t meet RBB’s journalistic standards.” She did not immediately provide examples.

Jebsen has defended himself against charges of anti-Semitism. But according to Spiegel Online magazine, many of his fans have made anti-Semitic statements in support of him in Internet forums.

Berlin Jewish leaders had called for tougher measures against Jebsen last week, noting Christian Dior’s firing of fashion guru John Galliano last spring for anti-Semitic comments.

Canadian DJ finds audience for klezmer fusion in France


Josh Dolgin didn’t set out to kick Yiddish music into the 21st century.

But there’s no denying that the 34-year-old musician’s beguiling blend of ‘70s-style funk, hip-hop beats, traditional Chasidic melodies and klezmer has been an electric addition to the Jewish music scene.

On July 11, Dolgin, who performs under the name DJ SoCalled, drew a sold-out crowd of bubbes and hipsters to Cafe de la Danse, a 500-seat venue in Paris.

Dolgin, who lives in Montreal, is popular in France. In North America, he says, there’s a greater pressure for music to be easily categorized, and identity politics is a game he doesn’t want to play.

“America? Forget about it—if you’re not dressed up like a rabbi singing reggae, then Jews don’t want anything to do with you and non-Jews don’t want anything to do with you,” he told JTA. “People want to put you in a little rack on the iTunes store.”

Growing up near Ottawa, Dolgin played piano and dabbled in various genres—salsa, funk, reggae, even playing with a gospel band as a teen. From there he experimented with beats, drum machines and sampling.

That’s how he stumbled upon the world of Yiddish theater music.

“It was weird to always sample funk and African-American music, which is where hip-hop comes from, but it’s not where I come from,” he said.

Though Dolgin grew up aware of his Judaism—celebrating holidays, having a bar mitzvah and attending synagogue—he was never plugged into Yiddish culture. But as a musician he was always looking for “cool sounds,” and Dolgin said that Yiddish theater music provided that in spades—“in between the verses are these sort of funky, rhythmic, orchestral breaks that were ideal for sampling.”

“Yiddish culture has been lost and forgotten, and it’s not popular for Jews in North America. They forgot how funky they were,” he said. “In a way, I’m sort of the godfather of mixing it with beats.”

The name of SoCalled’s first album—“Ghetto Blaster,” released in 2007—has a dual meaning. Yes, it refers to boom boxes, but Dolgin also was urging communities around the world to interact with each other in a broader, deeper way.

“It was about blasting out of the ghetto, out of our ghettos of style, ghettos of community,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who we are. We can learn from each other’s histories and share it.”

For his next album, the recently released “Sleepover,” Dolgin put politics aside and decided to focus on an album of catchy pop songs, no more and no less.

“In France, it’s, ‘Oh look you’re Jewish, you’re a Jewish rapper.’ I’m just a rapper. I’m just a producer. I’m just a piano player,” he said. “I’m Jewish, I’m bald, I’m Canadian … That adds to your appreciation of the art, but it doesn’t necessarily give you a better understanding of where the artist is coming from.”

His music has resonated with young French Jews like Noam Morgansztern, who said the mix of old and new sounds perpetuates Yiddish culture in an appealing way.

“He doesn’t say first that it’s Jewish,” Morgansztern said. “He says first that it’s music.”

And Dolgin’s audiences attract many non-Jews, like Rebecca Touboul, who made the three-hour trip from Marseille to attend the Cafe de la Danse show.

“I don’t really know klezmer. I just like the beat,” she said. “When I heard his first album, I loved it.”

Cafe de la Danse normally hosts indie acts and DJs specializing in house music, but booking an artist like Dolgin is a way to guarantee a full house, said Cyril Bahsief, who works at the venue and organized the show.

“We expected to touch all audiences – hip-hop and klezmer and jazz audiences,” he said. “The concert was just magic.”

Dolgin’s live show is energetic. Dressed in red pajamas, he darts in and out of French and English, inviting guest performers on stage for dance and instrumental solos, and asking the audience to help him with a magic trick.

If the grandmothers in the audience are offended by lyrics such as “Girls in their nightgowns/we’re gonna pull their panties down,” they don’t show it.

The crowd demands an encore and keeps singing the lines of Dolgin’s biggest hit, “(These Are the) Good Old Days.”

For Yiddish music—being reimagined by Dolgin and other fusion artists like him—these just might be.

Disc jockey DJ AM dies


CNN.com: Nearly a year after surviving a plane crash in South Carolina, disc jockey Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein was found dead in his New York apartment Friday afternoon, his publicist said. He was 36.

“The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear,” his publicist, Jenni Weinman, said in a statement confirming the performer’s death. “Out of respect for his family and loved ones, please respect their privacy at this time.”

Read the full story at CNN.com.

Thanks Anyway, But We’ll Plan Our Own Wedding


One of the first things I learned about wedding planning is that it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. Oh, I knew it would take time, money, teamwork and a slew of help from my family and friends, but what I never took into account was just how political the entire process would become. Having never been a big fan of politics — personal or otherwise — I was less than thrilled at this discovery.

More than my fiancé and I joining our lives together — as if there needed to be more — it began to feel like we were putting together our own political party. Everyone had ideas, thoughts, tidbits, traditions or lack thereof to contribute. A band or a DJ? Flowers or other centerpieces? A Conservative rabbi or a Reform one?

After a few weeks of “they want this,” “they suggested that,” “he loved this idea,” “but she wanted that idea,” my fiancé and I made a command decision that has kept each of us happy, smiling and sane (for the most part) throughout this process. We decided that we were planning this wedding, the wedding was not planning us.

We promised each other — and made it breaking-the-glass clear — that we were the only two people who mattered in the entire process. This was going to be our day and we were going to celebrate it in our way. Not to say that we were rude when other people voiced opinions, or plugged our ears shut when we heard someone say, “What I would do….” We were just honest with ourselves and each other about our feelings and what things were or were not important to us.

We decided that if people raised an eyebrow at a DJ instead of a band, then raise an eyebrow … we would be busy dancing. If someone looked at the centerpieces and wondered why we didn’t have flowers, they could wonder. We were not going to let other people’s opinions and ideas take over our special day.

So you won’t find me walking down the aisle to the usual wedding march, or the tried-and-true safe instrumental music. I’m picking a song that means something to me, and my fiancé is picking a song that means something to him.

My fiancé and I will not repeat vows; we are writing our own. I won’t have the veil on throughout the ceremony, I definitely will not be fasting the day of the wedding and we will not be separated from each other for a few days before. All of these traditions, though important to others, are not finding their way into our celebration.

The only thing that matters at the end of the day is that I will be married to him, my soul mate, best friend and absolute love of my life, and he will be married to me. Some people go through the wedding process and lose themselves in the color of the ribbon, the texture of the tablecloth and the scent of the roses, and they forget what it is that they are really doing. They are getting married, not just having a wedding. 

As I went to the post office this past weekend and dropped our invitations into the slot, I felt such a sense of accomplishment. Were the invitations individually crafted by a world-renowned calligrapher? Nope. They were personalized and ordered online, the labels were “mail merged” by yours truly and the entire process was done with a sense of love, commitment and happiness. Because at the end of the day a wedding is just one day of your life, while a marriage lasts forever. Our story began on July 15, 2007, and will be sealed in a ketubah (also purchased online) on May 31, 2009. As our invitations say, somewhere in the heart, deep in the soul, love finds a way to be forever….

Caroline Cobrin is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles and eagerly anticipating her wedding day. She can be contacted at {encode=”carolinecolumns@hotmail.com” title=”carolinecolumns@hotmail.com.”}

Calendar Girls Picks and Clicks Dec. 27- Jan. 2: Hot Rod Chanukah, Moroccan New Years Eve


SAT | DECEMBER 27

(CHANUKAH BASH)
The week has been loaded with holiday merrymaking, but if you’ve got a drop of energy left, you’ll want to make it last all night long at the Hot Rod Chanukah Party hosted by The Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Division and Birthright ” target=”_blank”>http://www.birthrightisrael.com. Non-alumni may buy tickets at ibakal@alpertjcc.org. circle@circlesocal.org. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jclla.org.

(CHANUKAH)
Nope, the Chanukah celebrations aren’t over yet. That’s one of the great things about being Jewish, isn’t it? Instead of one night of merriment, the parties just go on and on and on… Jumping right in is the Israel division of The Jewish Federation/ Valley Alliance, which is throwing its own holiday family festival complete with a magician, festive singing, a menorah-lighting ceremony, and — old magazines? Actually, attendees are asked to bring some along to turn them into a menorah. Not to worry, there will be expert magazine-menorah-makers on hand to help with the project. Sun. 4:30-6:30 p.m. Free. The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 464-3206. sbjts@cox.net.

(WOMEN)
JConnect is no stranger to bringing L.A.’s Jewish community together, but this gathering is for women only. As part of their monthly women’s gathering series, guest speaker Tova Hinda Siegel will be discussing “A Light Unto Our Nation: Are WE Women the Guiding Light?” Siegel, a certified midwife and very active in the city’s Jewish community, is in a unique position to discuss women and their relationship to Israel. The conversation will take place over a kosher potluck brunch, so make sure to bring along your favorite dish. Sun. 11:45 a.m. Only cost is your contribution to the potluck. JConnectLA, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 322, Los Angeles. R.S.V.P to Michal@JConnectLA.com for the exact address of the event. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>Fuel in Studio City into a Moroccan-style lair of rich tapestries, lush cushions and sensuous belly dancers. The feast will not be limited to just your eyes: There will also be a decadent kosher Moroccan buffet by Bazilikum Caterers and Chef Sharon On, a free hookah patio with a variety of sweet flavors and a champagne toast at midnight. Sababa’s loyal DJ duo, Ziv and Titus, will be spinning ’70s, ’80s, hip-hop, dance, house and plenty of hip Israeli crowd-pleasers. Part of the proceeds from this relatively affordable NYE bash (a nod to the struggling economy) will be donated to Yad B’Yad, a nonprofit that provides services to abused children in Israel. 21 and over. Wed. 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. $48 (prepaid via PayPal), $58 (at the door). Club Fuel, 11608 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (310) 657-6650. ” target=”_blank”>http://geffenplayhouse.com; ” target=”_blank”>http://www.elportaltheatre.com.

FRI | JANUARY 2

(SHABBAT LECTURE)
Rabbi YY, as Yehuda Yonah Rubinstein is fondly known, is one of the most requested Jewish speakers in the United Kingdom. There, he is a regular broadcaster on national radio and television and was named one of the top five people in Britain to turn to for advice by the Independent newspaper. He has written innumerable essays and a couple of books, including “Dancing Through Time” and “That’s Life.” Jewish Learning Exchange is hosting this veteran public speaker and teacher with a gift for fusing Torah, modern-day challenges and humor at a special weekend starting tonight. Rubinstein will lead Melava Malka on Saturday night and speak on the subject of what Judaism says about dreams. Guests are asked to specify if they need sleeping accommodations and/or meals. Fri.-Sat. $36. Jewish Learning Exchange, 512 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. Call (323) 857-0923 or e-mail info@jlela.com to register and to receive a detailed schedule. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.tebh.org.

So you want to be a DJ . . .


You’ve danced your last on the bar or bat mitzvah circuit and moved on to high school. But that doesn’t mean the party has to end.

For those who have dreamed of going from an infinite iPod playlist to playing live on the ones and twos, the bar and bat mitzvah party scene is a great place to get your start. Setting up a DJ business takes practice, planning and professionalism, but it beats baby-sitting and burgers.

The Journal turned to two local experts to help you get started: DJ Elan Feldman of Elan Entertainment, a 21-year-old economics major at Claremont McKenna College, and DJ Chris Dalton of C.D. Players Entertainment, a 36-year-old entrepreneur who began his career as a teen talk show host in Detroit.

Starting Out

It might seem like a daunting task to turn a hobby you like into a lucrative business, but both DJs say it isn’t that hard.

“There are some formalities, like creating business cards, buying insurance and buying equipment,” Feldman said. “But the hardest part of starting a DJ company is finding a market. DJing is one of those businesses that a hobby can be a real business, too.”

Start by asking your parents to help you buy a DJ system as an investment. Spin every opportunity you get, even if it’s just to perform for friends at their events for no cost. Practice makes perfect, and if you do a good job, word of mouth goes a long way for these events.

Getting Hired

Referrals do wonders. If you have already worked one bar or bat mitzvah party, chances are the parents know other parents from the Hebrew school who need to hire someone to DJ their child’s event.

“All of my business involves referrals,” Dalton said. “I don’t spend anything on advertising. One time, I put an ad in the Yellow Pages, and it almost put me under.”

Having your own Web site or establishing a presence on Facebook or MySpace doesn’t hurt, especially if the student is doing the research. But parents don’t necessarily turn to a Web site for information about hiring a DJ for their child’s special day.

More important is a professional-looking business card. You can expect to spend about $65 for a box of 1,000 cards if you order them through a designer or retailer. But it’s also possible to get print-it-yourself packages from office supply stores for about $15.

Be sure you bring cards and any other marketing materials to the event. If the adults like what you do, there’s a chance they will pass your card on to someone else and get your name out.

Equipment

Feldman prefers Apple products, saying that he’s found them to be the best and easiest to use.

“I have several DJ programs; the most popular right now is Traktor,” he said. “I like to use an iPod, because I feel more involved with the party when I’m not hiding behind a DJ booth.”

Dalton brings a DJ rig with him that uses dual CD players, much like a vinyl turntable. He uses a tracker scratch with a laptop and will even break out an iPod as a backup to make sure those special moments go without a hitch.

For speakers, Dalton swears by Mackies and JBLs, which he considers to be the most dependable available. He also prefers American Audio mixers, which he says last up to three years.

Cost

Some DJs say shelling out a few hundred dollars a year for insurance purposes is worth the expense, while others say it isn’t necessary. Those who do carry insurance say it provides venues and clients alike with peace of mind.

Most of your expenses will come from investing in new equipment.

“I upgrade my equipment annually,” Dalton said. “It can cost a minimum of $10,000.”

Labor is another a big cost. It’s possible that you will have to pay dancers and assistants based on the size of the party.

And then there’s transportation. You may have to start shelling out for travel expenses, depending on your level of success. Given fluctuating gas prices, consider your transportation costs as part of your price quote.

Rates

Check to see how others in your area structure the rates they charge.

Dalton charges a flat fee of $925 for four hours. But Feldman, on the other hand, doesn’t have a set rate.

“I consider the type of event, its length and the financial situation of the customer before I set my price,” Feldman said.

Generally, if a party lasts longer than four hours, the customer will be paying more for that luxury.

Setup

If there are issues with the synagogue or hall where you need to set up — for example, there isn’t enough room for dancing — go with the flow.

“I teach everyone to give yourself an hour of prep time to make sure everything is OK,” Dalton said. “I work very well with everyone and make sure that everyone working for me understands that we are a team and that there is no ‘I’ in the word ‘team.'”

When dealing with pushy or demanding parents, it is imperative to figure out what they want well before the party starts so you aren’t hit with any last-minute issues. Micromanaging takes the fun out of the event for all parties involved, so before the day of the event, it’s important to come to an agreement on party details (for example, what time the cake comes out, what time dancing starts, if anyone is going to light the candles or give speeches and when, etc.).

Remember to handle parents in a professional manner, because you need their referral.

Playlist

A good DJ must be confident, engage the crowd and never forget that the event is to celebrate someone else’s personal moment, not to showcase his or her ability to entertain.

“Before any party, I meet with the client to discuss and plan the event. All my parties are fully customized. So these meetings serve as an opportunity for the family to tell me exactly what they are looking for and what type of music to play, as well as how the order of events should play out,” Feldman said.

A good DJ should understand his/her audience and keep current with popular music trends. Clean radio edits for certain hip-hop songs don’t hurt, especially because b’nai mitzvah kids often have little brothers and sisters at the party.

A great DJ must be able to guide the party in the right direction based on what the parents and bar or bat mitzvah student want. But then a little musical spontaneity never hurt anyone, and the variety will probably keep partygoers out on the dance floor clamoring for more.

Making music the Algerian Jewish way


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Radio DJ Jimmy Kay brings folksy charm to folkie L.A


A radio DJ might not be your idea of an innovative storyteller, but who can’t relate to the desire to inflict your own personal interests onto the greater Los Angeles listening public? DJ Jimmy Kay does just this every Sunday night from 9 p.m. to midnight on KKGO 1260AM, where he hosts the program “Sunday Night Folk.”

He can play whatever music suits his fancy, but he doesn’t play the music just for his own fanciful whims. He secretly hopes that the historical significance of the events described in the lyrics will touch the listening audience as much as the haunting melodies that weave through the songs.

On Nov. 12, Kay will host a musical salute to American Veterans in honor of Veterans Day. It will feature music from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, World Wars I and II, Vietnam and Iraq. It will also include a 10-song segment about the continuing battle against fascism that exists in the world today.

Jimmy Kay was born James Kalmenson on Oct. 5, 1958, in New Rochelle, N.Y., to two Jewish parents, Lilli and Howard Kalmenson. In 1962, the Kalmenson family moved to Tarzana, when his father purchased the Spanish-language radio station KWKW.

“I was bar mitzvahed at 13; my speech discussed pollution and ecology,” Kay remembers. “My upbringing was not overtly religious; we did observe all the major holidays, and during my pre-teen years we performed the rituals for the Sabbath.”

Celebrating the holidays was of great importance to Kay’s mother, whose own family had escaped from Germany in 1938.

Kay’s interest in folk music stemmed from watching the images of Vietnam on television and being exposed to music from the ’60s, Kay recalls. “I loved to sing songs around the campfire every summer when I went to River Way Ranch Camp.”

Probably the most influential element for Kay was seeing the movie, “Bound for Glory,” which exposed him to the life and songs of Woody Guthrie.

Next April, “Sunday Night Folk” will celebrate its fifth anniversary. Over the years it has expanded from one hour to three per week; it’s acquired more financial sponsorships; and, most importantly, it’s gained a wider audience.

Kay offers, “the music is definitely folk; however, we aren’t afraid to cross the boundaries into other genres in order to compliment a thematic moment. We play classic country from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. We enjoy political satirists like L.A. songwriter Ross Altman. Sing-a-long campfire songs and children’s tunes can be worked in once in awhile as well as a dramatic set of love songs here and there.

“We also like to tip our hats to veterans and focus on anthems of political protest as well as spinning patriotic feel-good songs. Jewish-themed songs, Latino-themed songs, ditties about taxes, dogs, trains, farm animals … you name it, we’ve played it. If I have one rule, it would be that we never play anything which is getting heavy airplay anywhere else; I love to introduce undiscovered singer-songwriters on a segment called, ‘Sunday Night Folk Discoveries.'”

Kay and producer Jeffrey Schwartz (known on air as Jimmy Smart) also commit the most bizarre sin possible by music business standards — they take musical submissions from anyone and they listen to every single CD that they receive. Hearing all this, you start to wonder what Jimmy Kay’s music library must look like. When does he have time to catalogue everything? Especially when you find out that the station his father bought in 1962 is now considered the No. 1 AM Spanish-language station in the country, so boasts its current president, Jimmy Kay.

It’s really no surprise that Kay would end up being a champion for the “underground” folk circuit, because he believes that folk music has always dealt with the “down-trodden.” Kay adds, “my Jewish education always emphasized caring for the less fortunate. I feel a great joy sharing songs that make people really think about the human condition. I love to play music which reminds people of their childhood memories and to expose them to ideas which they may not have ever even considered before.”

According to Kay’s philosophy, the road to freedom is taken not only one step, but one lyric at a time.