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By Michael E. Miller
Few DJs would think to cut through Florence, Italy, and New York City to get to Fort Lauderdale. Then again, few DJs have proven the logic of a circuitous route quite like Dean Michaels. In fact, it appears that Michaels is so intent on spinning his way straight into ubiquity that he doesn't care how many rotations it takes. And who's to argue with that?
Born and raised in Montville, New Jersey, Michaels started spinning while still studying at Florida Atlantic University. The Hush Lounge (now Scoop) in Boca was his first gig. Then came Fort Lauderdale's Art Bar, where Michaels helped bounce Broward into its dancing shoes before he headed back to Boca to help launch a college party at Murphy's Downtown in 2002. That particular Tuesday-night throwdown exists to this day.
During his studies, Michaels, who boasts some Italian heritage, decided to avail himself of an FAU study-abroad program in Florence. Eventually he'd end up one of the town's most active DJs. It all went down like this: An audition at the club Dolce Zuccherro turned into a three-hour set, and that, in turn, begat a two-night residency. From there he went on to Central Park, a sprawling spring/summer venue that comes equipped with its own Ferris wheel and a center-city club called Universale.
But after arrivals, soon or later come departures, and after seven months, Michaels made his way back across the pond. This time, he went to the Big Bad Apple, where he landed a spot as an intern at powerhouse radio station Z100. Soon he was handling marketing and promotions, and by the end of two years, he found himself spinning Z100's All Access party at the Hammerstein Ballroom, an event that remains a highlight of his DJ life. Having conquered Z100, Michaels moved back to South Florida and embarked on a similar course with our own Y100. And last December, when the station launched its offshoot, WMIA-FM 93.9, Michaels spun its first live broadcast.
These days, Michaels still handles the odd live action for WMIA as well as the odd event for folks such as New Times (see last week's Pairings). He also has four residencies in three locations, including Lauderdale's über-hip W Hotel, where he holds court weekly at Whiskey Blue and Wet. But Michaels is most focused on running a one-stop entertainment company he calls Your DJ.
Basically a hybrid outfit that includes marketing and promotions, talent and management, event production, and fan services, Your DJ promises to be everything to everybody who gets involved. A fledgling promotions company might find itself teaming with Your DJ for an event and then featured on its site. A group of travelers might want its night on the town to be handled from pickup to dropoff, and Your DJ will do it. A band might be looking for gigs, an artist looking for an exhibit, a designer looking for a soundtrack to his or her next runway show, and Your DJ will make the connections necessary to achieve each desired result. Currently Michaels customizes music for designer Kariza, who, presumably, shows to a much better beat.
It's little wonder Michaels insists he's building a new empire. And it's no wonder why folks of all kinds are lining up to be involved. Fun and sun may be all well and good, but it's even better when you make it your business. If Dean Michaels has his way, that business will always need Your DJ.
Dean Michaels's current top five:
1. "No Games," Serani
2. "Young Forever," Jay-Z
3. "Million Bucks," Maino feat. Swizz Beatz
4. "Sex on Fire," Kings of Leon
5. "Got to Give It Up," Marvin Gaye