At the Lower Eastside Girls Club, an organization that provides educational programs to lower-income young women in New York City, class is ending. “Get ready for DJ Stacia!” someone yells. The room erupts in cheers. An endearingly awkward tween girl with a ponytail and glasses focuses on her Pioneer controller as the other girls crowd around.
The girls are midway through a seven-week DJ workshop taught by WBAI DJ Baby K (AKA Kelly Webb) and DJ Reborn at the Girls Club’s sleek $20 million building, which opened in October 2013 and houses everything from a high-tech science lab to a planetarium (all of the Girls Club’s programs are free). The studio where class is happening would be the envy of any professional DJ: it includes Serato units donated by Pioneer, PUSH controllers and Ableton Live, an S5 and Komplete 10 Sound Production Suite donated by Native Instruments, and a ProTools mixer used by their in-house radio station, WGRL.
Back in the classroom, a chilled out piano intro plays over the PA before a beat and vocals kick in. After a few false starts, DJ Stacia transitions into another track. More cheers. It’s not the greatest mix ever, but no one really cares. When she finishes, the next DJ is quickly announced by a volunteer MC, and any errors are forgotten. It’s time to mix.