Pin It

ANNUAL MANUAL '10: Rochester's DJs 

Get to know some of Rochester’s most cutting-edge DJs

If you want to get your body in motion, or just watch others put theirs into gear, there are a number of local DJs standing by to provide the soundtrack for your ass- shake and jiggle. We're not just talking about people who merely spin the latest Britney song on the radio; we're talking about aural artists who mix, mash-up, and search for the deep cuts you never heard before.

            The majority of the DJs profiled here spin house music, a broad style that incorporates soul and funk with synthetic manipulation. The focus is on the driving beat and its intense thump, throb, and groove. The talent lies within the DJ's insight into both the crowd and the beats. A good DJ can read an audience, lead an audience, and work the music in seamless succession where tracks can even overlap to create new sounds. The result is relentless and intense, and can also work down to mellow and cool. It depends on the DJ, depends on the vibe, depends on you.

            There are countless weekly and monthly DJ/electronic events throughout the greater Rochester area. For a full list of them, check City Newspaper's music calendar every Wednesday, or search the online calendar at In the meantime, here are a few stand-out DJ events you might want to check out.

Insomnia DJs

Thursdays 10 p.m., $3 cover

One, 1 Ryan Alley | 546-1010 |

The Insomnia DJs have been pulling the red-eye at East End restaurant/club One for just over a year now. DJ Jeff Clarkson says that the club mix pumped out by him and his partners, Jestyr and Ed Santiago, can feature anything from minimal techno to Top 40 remixes.

            People have come to expect a certain level of talent from these DJs, and management gives them a wide berth to explore and keep it exciting. "We've been really lucky with what [One] has allowed us to do," Clarkson says. "Because often times I'll jut show up and play what I'm in the mood to play. Sometimes people are into it, sometimes they're not. I think people respect that when we show up we're going to play something unique that night. But if there are times when we have a certain crowd looking for a certain type of music, we'll serve that up too."

            "The most special thing to me is that we've really opened the ears of a lot of people in the Alexander/East End area to a different genre of music," Clarkson says.


Fridays 10:30 p.m., no cover, 21+

Tapas 177 Lounge, 177 St. Paul St. | 262-2090 |

With HOME, DJs Jon Herbert, NickL (Nick Giordano), and Marshall Vickers all spin house with the groove on ice in the St. Paul Quarter's subterranean shangri-la. It's a romantic, slightly more chilled-out scene. The beat is central and focused, yet the strains and samples shift with a subtle nuance from soul to gospel to Latin, and from DJ to DJ to DJ. NickL opts for more vocals in his selections, often big, black, beautiful gospel voices. He calls the style soul house.

            "They convey more emotion," he says of the singers he selects. "House is emotional music, and soul house is more uplifting than any other form of electronic music."

            NickL cites the human struggle behind the music that gives it its power. "House came out of a repressed culture," he says. "It's propagated by gay black men, who had nowhere to go. Now the dance floor is their church."


Saturdays 10 p.m., $3-$8 cover, 18+

Vertex, 169 N Chestnut St. | 232-5498 |

DJ Darkwave (Steve Prinsen) has been making dark waves every Saturday at goth-tinged club Vertex for nigh on 10 years. Bands like The Cure or Bauhaus go up against, under, and around a foreboding and unrelenting beat.

            "Mostly alternative underground dance kinda stuff," Darkwave says of his selections. "Anywhere from gothic to industrial to new wave and synth pop. It depends on who's there. There's always a steady stream of dancers heading to the DJ booth with suggestions that Darkwave effortlessly incorporates.

            Requests not withstanding, he promises you won't hear Top 40 stuff. "Almost never," he says. "Sometimes I'll throw in some Lady Gaga just for fun."

Buck Wild (DJ Kribs and Discolobos)

Last Friday of every month, 11 p.m., $3, 18+

Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave. | 454-2966,

DJ Lisa Kribs enjoys the dichotomy between her set and that of her Buck Wild partners in crime, Chuck Cerankosky and Ben Gonyo (aka Discolobos). Discolobos is a duo that spans musical styles and eras via miles of vintage vinyl. Amidst the ongoing hip-hop beat you'll hear stuff like Ram Jam's "Black Betty" mashed with gospel one minute, synth-pop the next.

            "Their groove is a little different than mine, which makes for a pretty dynamic evening," she says. "They play a little more hip-hoppy, older stuff with an indie feel to it and I bring in an indie sound with a little electronica. It's cool. We rotate on and off every half hour to keep things mixed up."

            But the DJs dictate the sound... usually. "I always just play what I want to play, and if people like it, they like it," Kribs says. "But if the dance floor is packed at 1:30 and there's a groove or a particular kind of vibe I'm throwing on there, that's crafted that way, then I'll stick with it."

Sock Hop Party

Monthly (always on a Thursday), $5

Dub Land Underground, 315 Alexander St. | 232-7550,

DJ Pat Gaffney takes a back seat and dons the impresario hat for this shindig. Since July of 2009, this monthly event has become a veritable DJ parade.

            "We have a pretty standard stable of about 20 DJs," says Gaffney. "There are about 12 that play each show. We do it upstairs and downstairs, and the parties can run from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., so we give them each an hour."

            The Sock Hop Party has recently expanded to include its Lo Brau Comedy show, as well as assorted cookie, cake, coffee, and cider tastings. But the real confection remaining is the music.

            "It's centered around house music," he says. "Electro house, deep house, there's even some dub-step, some chill-out stuff early in the night. There's been some drum and bass too.

            "The Sock Hops Parties exist to give all the DJs in Rochester a reliable place to play every month. This is kind of an open door mission for DJs," Gaffney says.

In This Guide...

Browse Listings

Submit an event

Tweets @RocCityNews

Website powered by Foundation     |     © 2021 CITY News