For the past month, every Friday and Saturday evening, Luis Pino sets up turntables, cartridges and other DJ equipment in his home. He prepares for his upcoming performance with a list of songs he plans to play. Once he’s ready, he turns on his phone and starts live-streaming his set on his Facebook page.
Pino, 45, who goes by the alias DJ Chamo, started consistently live-streaming his sets a week after restaurants and bars were ordered to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. His DJ Chamo Happy Hour starts at 8 pm and lasts an hour or two.
“I love music and I really miss the scene, the vibe and the people dancing and listening to the music,” Pino said.
Prior to the shut-down, he worked his nights at Tavernakaya on the Capitol Square and Nomad on Gorham Street. Now he works his magic in his living room.
And he isn’t the only one doing so.
Above: Pablo Paniagua, also known as DJ Frecuencia Infinita
DJs all over Madison have turned to social media as a primary venue for performing and connecting with their audience. It’s a way to bring a bit of happiness and joy to an otherwise troubling time, Pino said.
“I want to bring happiness to their homes. It’s important to me that they don’t feel the need to go out. I play the music and they have fun at home,” he said.
Pino has been a DJ for most of his life. As a young teen in Venezuela, he was introduced to DJing and mixing music through a friend. When he arrived in Madison during the late 90s, he started working as a DJ immediately and hasn’t stopped since.
After the restaurant and bar shut-down, he decided to try a live-stream to see if it could work.
“It’s really normal for DJs to do this. I didn’t even advertise that much but people loved it and asked when I was going to be live again,” Pino said.
Like DJ Chamo, Pablo Paniagua, known as DJ Frecuencia Infinita, also started live-streaming consistently to engage with his audience. Paniagua, 41, has been a professional DJ for the past 23 years and has worked throughout the Midwest region.
Prior to the shut-down, Paniagua live-streamed once in a while, but now goes live three days a week from 5 to 8 p.m.
“When you’re a DJ for many years, you grow followers, and in these times I think people need a bit of happiness,” he said. “I can do it and it’s free, so why not? It’s something I love and it’s a different way to see if customers, friends and other people you know are okay.”
While the pandemic has given both Paniagua and Pino an opportunity to engage with their audience in a new way, it has also affected their day-time jobs. Paniagua, an elevator mechanic, has seen a sharp decrease in work hours and available tasks. Pino, who owns a cleaning company with his wife, had to lay off employees.
Still, both are optimistic about the future, and look to DJing as a way to keep spirits up until the restaurants and clubs open up again.
“I want to [keep live streaming] until we go back to normal,” Paniagua said. “Most DJs can go out there (online) and at least do a live show for their customers to let them know you’re okay, send some hope that everything will be okay.”