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After nearly 19 months of industry uncertainty, the DJ market returned in a big way as DJ Expo 2021 brought jocks of all stripes back into its community.

Rebranded as DJX, the DJ Times-produced trade-show/exhibition filled the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City this past Aug. 9-12 with mobile entertainers, club DJs, streaming jocks and home-studio hounds. After missing its 2020 incarnation due to the pandemic, the show on AC’s famed Boardwalk delivered three days of exhibits featuring some of the industry’s latest technologies, four days of seminars, workshops and keynotes, and three nights of sponsored After Dark events. With its 35th show since its 1990 inception, DJX remains the DJ industry’s longest-running and most-successful trade show/exhibition.

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Showfloor: Mell Starr instructs a youngster.
Cheyenne Chao

The Show: The DJ Expo (DJX) delivered a showfloor full of pro-audio, lighting and accessory gear, plus educational seminars and evening parties that enjoyed participation from exhibitor/sponsors like Bose, Chauvet DJ, JetPack, L-Acoustics, Pioneer DJ, RCF-USA and Tribe XR.

In addition to a schedule of topical seminars aimed to benefit mobile, club, streaming and studio jocks, DJX presented special keynotes from diverse industry notables like Howard “HK” Kessler, a popular syndicated-mixshow DJ who spent much of his career as A&R man for the legendary Tommy Boy Records. Loaded with entertaining and instructive stories about working with hitmaking artists like Naughty By Nature, Queen Latifah and RuPaul, “HK” left the DJ Expo (DJX) audience inspired.

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Virtual Reality: At Tribe XR’s booth.
Cheyenne Chao

DJX’s always-entertaining After Dark events fired up a pair of venues inside the Hard Rock (Plum VIP Lounge and DAER Nightclub). On Monday’s RCF-sponsored “Opening Party” at Plum, four turntablists, party jock Kid Kasper and hitmaking DJ/artist Joe Bermudez rocked the intimate venue. The next night at DAER, the L-Acoustics-sponsored “Twitch Tuesday” party presented Twitch Partner DJs like Mike Marquez and Joshua Carl, plus chart-topping DJ/artist LODATO.

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After Dark: DJ Kid Kasper rips it up.
MetroMix Media

On Wednesday night, DAER doubled up with a pair of parties, both sponsored by L-Acoustics, which outfitted the room with a powerful club system (which included A15 Focus loudspeakers, plus KS21 and KS28 subs). With Jake Jacobsen hosting, the “No Judgement Wednesday” event presented an evening with America’s top mobile talent. Later in the evening for his annual afterparty, DJ Skribble was joined on the decks by hip-hop legend DJ Scratch who carried the night home.

The Winners: On Aug. 12, Artie Branigan of Artie’s Parties in Waretown, N.J., won the Ultimate DJ Giveaway. The winning system included gear from the following sponsors: Bose (Noise Cancelling Headphones 700); Pioneer DJ (XDJ-XZ controller, VM-80 speakers, HDJ-X7 headphones); RCF (AYRA PRO5 monitors); and Tribe XR (Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, Tribe XR software key, Masterclass with LODATO inside Tribe XR).

Additionally, daily giveaways saw winners take home products from: Bose (SoundLink Micro Bluetooth speaker); DJ Times (All-Access Passes to 2022 DJX, t-shirts); JetPack Bags (JetPack Snap Backpack); and Tribe XR (DJ in VR Software Key, t-shirts).

The Reaction: “It took awhile, but we’re very gratified to see the DJ industry return in such a big way,” said Jim Tremayne, Editor of DJ Times magazine and a show co-organizer. “We had faith in the market and, despite the bumps we all endured during the past year, we always believed in our community. Thankfully, its strength was put on full display at DJX. As always, we offer our great appreciation to the show’s exhibitors, sponsors, performers, panelists and attendees for their continued support. We look forward to returning to the Boardwalk next year – Aug. 8-11 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.”

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Artie Branigan: Ultimate DJ Giveaway winner.
MetroMix Media

Response from exhibitors and attendees was enthusiastic:

“Pioneer DJ has enjoyed a thriving partnership with DJ Expo for many years and greatly values the opportunity DJ Expo (DJX) provides for us to strengthen our relationships within the DJ community. We build real friendships with professional and aspiring DJs through hosting seminars, gear conversations, and talented artist performances. This year’s DJX solidified its position as a must-attend event for anyone in the DJ industry, especially in a year when in-person events, clubs and live venues are starting to emerge from an incredibly challenging year. Pioneer DJ was excited to be back on the showfloor again in 2021.” – Marc Weinbach, Pioneer DJ, Torrance, Calif.

“We loved it! Really glad to be at Hard Rock and pleasantly surprised with the attendance – great energy, foot traffic, and engagement.” – James Sajeva, Korg USA, Melville, N.Y.

“It was nice to feel the camaraderie of our industry coming together in one place after not having a show last year, due to the pandemic. Being a part of this community and feeling that the entire show was an amazing experience.”   – Ross Akselrad, Pulse Entertainment, Richboro, Pa.

“DJX was a major upgrade… it was easily accessible and had great accommodations! – Jonny Diver, Elegant Music Group, Montclair, N.J.

“For us, the DJ Expo helps us stay dialed into the mobile, club and mixshow DJ worlds… There’s no DJ show quite like it.” – Nick Ditri, The Disco Fries, Red Bank, N.J.

“When I first attended DJ Expo back in 2012, I was a single-op [mobile DJ] and doing weddings for $400. Now, I’m multi-op with five team members and my price is more than $3,000. The main reason? Attending DJX! Attending DJ Expo (DJX) gives me the tools to stay ahead of competition in my area.” – Pascal Lévesque, Pascal Party, Montréal, Canada

“It was a great time… super-interesting people and a really great venue!” – Michael Mahler, VIBO, W. Hartford, Conn.

“We really enjoyed sharing our experiences with the [“Remixer/Producer/Mixshow”] panel and audience. Years ago, when we would visit the Expo as attendees, the panels inspired us to be better producers. We would not be where we are now without the DJ Expo.” – John Feelgood, The Scene Kings, NYC 

“It was so important for our industry to do this show and we were proud to be part of it. DJ Times did a great job putting it on, as it does every year!” – Lars Schlichting, Pioneer DJ, Torrance, Calif.

“This year more than ever, the community aspect of the show showed how important it is to all DJs across the country and beyond… After over 30 years of the DJ Expo being in operation, DJX ’21 re-emphasized just how much of a binding force in the industry it is!” – Jordan St. Jacques, Digitera Interactive, Ottawa, Canada

“Much better venue for DJX ’21. Makes more sense. Hard Rock has more prestige, which is nice.” – Justin Brock, RCF-USA, Edison, N.J.

“With DJX, DJ Times has made large, educational conferences viable again. It took two years, but all the attendees got amazing information from some of the best entertainment educators around the country and a spectacular shopping experience on the always-incredible showfloor.” – Jake Jacobsen, A2R Entertainment, Cumming, Ga.

“DJX provided a much-needed revamp to the industry. I met so many amazing people that I had previously connected with virtually – but this time, in real life. You can’t put a price on this experience.” – DJ Cova, Bayonne, N.J.  

“As the wedding industry returns to normal, there have been a number of significant moments that indicate we are on our way. DJ Times hosting DJX in Atlantic City was one of the biggest ones. It was so great to see so many industry friends again – and meet so many new ones! Thanks to DJ Times for bringing us all together.”   – Mike Walter, Elite Entertainment, Tinton Falls, N.J.

“I’ve been coming to the DJ Expo for years now. The panels and seminars are important for inspiring producers/DJs to get insider knowledge on the process and business. It’s also a great place to check out and demo the newest gear on the market.”  – LODATO, Spinnin’ Records, Queens, N.Y.

“For many years, the DJ Expo has given me inspiration to go back into the real world of DJing and create something new and exciting. It gives just the right dose of information, networking and the opportunity to see the latest in technology and equipment. The energy and excitement is second to none.” – Xavier J. Powell, Sounds of Jersey, Bloomfield, N.J. 

“As a first-time attendee, I had a blast! It was great seeing cutting-edge DJ set-ups from all the pro vendors…. not to mention listening to top-notch DJs at the evening events. I was inspired musically and loved meeting other DJs from all over the country. The panels were also super-educational and well-rounded.”  – Nicole Otero, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“DJX is such an amazing place to learn how to better your DJ business, get inspired by some truly talented DJs, meet more DJs, and have a stellar time in DJ heaven. From the gear to the parties to the seminars, DJX is still here for a reason! Don’t miss it!” – Staci “The Track Star” Nichols, Cancún, Mexico

“DJX invigorated me. I came back home fired up and ready to work!” – Joe Bermudez, Mass Movement Radio, Boston, Mass. 

“DJX is valuable because it provides all DJs the opportunity to see the newest equipment, but it also allows everyone to get educated from the seminars and workshops. Plus, there’s the education that’s gained by networking.” – Greg Curran, DJ Entertainment School, Abington, Pa.

“The best part of DJX is how it brings DJs together as real people and builds relationships that have a much bigger impact than just packing dancefloors. The seminars, exhibit floor and parties are great, but the connections and networking are the nuts!” – Chris Washburn, Washburn Ent., Dryden, N.Y.

“DJX ’21 was super-important to not only reconnect with friends and colleagues, but for allowing those who were coming back post-quarantine to know that our profession is still here. This show prepared us for 2022 and beyond.”  – Mike Marquez, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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DJ Times Magazine is copyright © 2021 by DJ Publishing, Inc. www.djtimes.com

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