When I started my professional DJ career, I did it the old-fashioned way – working the lights for other DJ’s. A good lighting designer is just as important as the DJ as they set the visual mood of the night.
Leroy Washington (the owner of club Lovelite) felt that working lights would be a significant step in developing my understanding of how a night should run visually in conjunction with the music.
Knowledge of music is essential for a lighting designer. Knowing when to hit the strobes or even specific colors went well with certain songs (yellow and reds worked great with Prelude records).
There were two lighting designers who I worked with at Lovelite, Tom Kosalka, and Cat Joy. Both worked with Leroy at Studio 54, and because he loved their lighting concepts, he hired them to work at Lovelite. Before every party, we changed the filters, checked the bulbs, cleaned every light, and used a bottle of Windex to clean our mirror ball. The smallest detail makes a big difference.
Apprentice to New York’s Best DJ’s
I worked the lights for Kenny Carpenter, Timmy Regisford, David Morales, Larry Paterson, and even Larry Levan (once Morales had Larry finish a night for him). I learned a lot from them; each had a different approach to presenting the music and its energy. Also, each of them was open to answering my questions and shared some great music with me.
Being the light designer and also a DJ made me the perfect candidate to be the opening and emergency DJ. The opener had a particular set of unwritten rules, start the night with slower tempos, don’t play hit records, and keep the sound volume respectable so the customer could have a conversation but still enjoy the music.
I’m thankful for those early days. I was fortunate to work with and be mentored by some great DJs. The experience positively shaped me and led to my success in the music business.