Elijah Strauss hovered over piles of equipment stacked behind the DJ booth in the lightless back room of the UC Lounge, a nondescript bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Pressing his headphones to one ear, Strauss twisted a shiny, silver knob, bringing Rihanna’s voice slowly into focus. The crowd is minimal — a group of about six close friends take up most of the club’s floor space, bouncing and shimmying. Strauss seems unaffected by his small audience. They came to dance. He came to make it happen.
Born and raised in Forest Hills, Strauss takes his love of music to the next level — DJing at clubs and bars around New York City.
Strauss exhibited an interest in DJing while in high school, but the hobby’s expensive start-up costs and his neighborhood’s lack of outlets for local spinners hindered his dream from taking off.
“Growing up, I’ve always been interested in music,” said Strauss. “In high school, I thought the idea of DJing was cool but I never had the venue or the resources.”
During Strauss’s freshmen year in college, he joined a student organization that helped provide relief for those affected by the 2007 earthquakes in Peru. While with a friend, brainstorming methods to further their efforts and accrue more funds for the victims, they stumbled upon the perfect plan – throw a raging party to raise money for Peru. The only thing missing was a DJ.
He bought an inexpensive mixer and gathered his favorite tunes – Top 40, Hip Hop and Reggae hits.
Strauss was nervous, calling on friends for their song suggestions and advice, mapping out every second of the evening. To his surprise, he spun for a completely packed venue. Campus security attempted to corral the crowd when the evening was expected to end, around 1:30 a.m., but the partygoers kept dancing. Strauss played Mims’s “This is Why I’m Hot” when suddenly the fire alarm began blaring.
“Apparently someone pulled the alarm because they didn’t want to leave,” laughed Strauss.
Straus claimed that following his notable premier in October of 2007, his DJ skills were at high demand from student groups and party planners across campus.
“I was not impressed with the parties there and thought I could do a better job,” said Strauss. “My DJing took off after the first party I did.”
His stage name, “DJ Fine-Nice,” derives from “finesse,” the moniker he originally sought to go by. “Finesse” proved popular among other mix masters, and the adjectives “fine” and “nice” seemed to complement the beats Strauss was working with.
During the week, Strauss works as a life coach, assisting a private client with his daily tasks and organization. It’s a new gig for the 23-year-old recent college graduate, who majored in psychology at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
He dedicates most of his time after work to improving his craft – researching and downloading new songs, editing his iTunes library and hooking up potential gigs. He says his time belongs to the music.
Strauss admits there are a few secrets to being a good DJ — being prepared, knowing your music and knowing your audience.
When he spins clubs, Strauss leans on electronic artists like Avicci, David Guetta, Afrojack and Major Lazer to keep people moving. He observes the crowd’s reactions to various songs, reflecting the feelings and themes he picks up throughout the evening as a gauge for what to play next.
And he keeps on spinning.
Interested in booking DJ Fine-Nice for a gig? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To listen to mixes by DJ Fine-Nice, visit http://soundcloud.com/djfinenice.