Head Spins: Oren Nizri

Tel Aviv has become something of a breeding ground for world-class beat-keepers. Whether it comes from the psy-trance sweep of Infected Mushroom, or the minimal tech-house of Miami transplant DJ Leeor, Israel's second city is now a hotbed of beatitude.

And no wonder — Out magazine called Tel Aviv "the gay capital of the Middle East," and it's been ranked as a global party town up there with both Barcelona and Miami. Add the fact that it's located on the Mediterranean coast, boasts the globe's largest concentration of modernist architecture, and doesn't shut down even when the sun comes up, and, well, you have a perfect confluence of geography, style, and action. That's just the kind of confluence that makes for dynamite nightclubbing.

Knowing all of this, it makes a certain sense that now-local DJ Oren Nizri would call Tel Aviv his birthplace, and the place where he got his kick-start. He began breaking beats there in 2001 on the radio station the Voice of Tel Aviv with a show called In My House.

Oren Nizri straddles counties and countries.
Dale Stine
Oren Nizri straddles counties and countries.

At the time, his brand of soulful house was new to the city's airwaves, never mind still something of a novelty on the dance floors, and it wasn't long before the real clubs came calling. In a matter of minutes, Nizri had made himself a name in Tel Aviv nightlife. Yet even a town as swinging as Tel Aviv can't compete with the whole wild world, and the moment Nizri got the opportunity, he used his success to invade it.

For the past seven years, Nizri has made his home in Miami, and during the time he has spun in South Florida, never once has a month gone by when he didn't hop a plane to spin in another city too. Sure, there were yearlong residencies at Karu & Y and Fort Lauderdale's Living Room. There were one-offs and two-offs and three-offs everywhere from Mansion and Dream to the Social at the Sagamore. And there were headlining spots at Winter Party and White Party, as well as up at Gay Days in Orlando and PrideFest of the Palm Beaches.

But in between all of this, he also made the scene in Lima and Bogota, Nashville and Atlanta. And if Nizri's increasingly expansive schedule means anything, he wouldn't want it any other way.

"Each city where I play is an experience on its own. The club scene and the music can be very different in the places where I travel, [but] as a DJ, it is motivating and challenging," he says. "My career is in a fantastic moment right now. During 2010, I'll be in every major city of the U.S.A., from the West Coast to the East Coast, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, England, and Israel. And towards the second part of the year, I'll be touring in Asia and Australia."

Be that as it may, it's this particularly sweaty stretch of sand that concerns us here, and in South Florida, his ongoing residencies are Thursday nights at Set in South Beach, and Saturdays at the Manor in Wilton Manors. According to Nizri, that latter, Broward crowd tends to go for the more vocal side of his funky, soulful, hi-NRG house.

At Set, meanwhile, Nizri plays a cross between classics and electro. But whether you're up with the boys or down with the swells, there's no doubt there'll be something wild about it all and that not one set of feet will be still for a second.  

As if all of that wasn't enough, Nizri also coheads Gimme a Beat Productions with partner George Coronado. The South Beach-based company is a kind of one-stop marketing/management shop for DJs, clubs, and productions, and they now count a stable of eight spinners. Coronado handles the day-to-day business, leaving Nizri to be more or less figurehead. And if the tribal-tinged sounds coming out of the "Zumbale" mixes he pulled off with Spain's Paco Pil are any indication, Gimme a Beat might just be worth betting good money on.

DJ Oren Nizri's current top five:

1. "Cool (Newhouse Mix)," Spencer and Hill

2. "Let the Beat Hit 'Em (Soul Avengerz Mix)," Asbo feat. Katherine Ellis

3. "Someday (Soda Club Mix)," Soul Avengerz

4. "Someday (Club Mix)," Copyright

5. "Fuego (Electro Club Mix)," Wawa

 
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