Dixon Aspires to Total Dance-Floor Transcendence

Larissa Hofmann
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It seems every time German DJ/producer Dixon visits Miami, he leaves the city's electronic community wanting more. Though international sound selectors make the rounds in big cities, it isn't all that common for DJs to stop by regularly. Yet Dixon — real name Steffen Berkhahn — can't seem to stay away from the Magic City.

Whether you're new to Miami's club scene or a seasoned after-hours veteran, odds are you're familiar with Dixon. Just last year, he played on Club Space's Terrace and spun a special sunrise set during Rakastella. His involvement with the latter extends beyond dropping a head-spinning tune or two: The celebrated Miami Art Week party is a collaboration between his own record label — Innervisions — and Miami promoter PL0T and DJ Tennis' imprint, Life and Death.

Like clockwork, he'll return to the Terrace on Leap Day alongside fellow Rakastella alumnus Trikk.

Dixon is known for his versatility and full embrace of the possibilities inherent in eclectic DJ'ing. It's difficult to pin down a so-called average set or conventional style of his: He'll just as likely drop African tribal chants and booming bongo riffs as he will play updated takes on '80s synthpop and his remixes of LCD Soundsystem. Like contemporaries such as DJ Tennis and John Talabot, Dixon has mastered juxtaposing transcendent melodies with banging techno beats for maximum dance-floor effect.

Dixon and Tennis interviewed each other for a chat shared in Flaunt. Asked what makes an event special nowadays, Dixon replied, “Dance music events outside of clubs tend to lose the key ingredients of a clubbing experience and are rather a kind of concert experience — DJs high up on stage for a short time with people watching them. Bringing the DJs, as much as possible, onto the same level as the attendees takes away the focus on the performer and puts the focus on the audience themselves, making them lose themselves in the music.” 

Whenever possible, Dixon does his best to align a venue's ethos and production value with his own (inner)vision. “Clubbing has always been a form of escapism into another space, dimension, or reality,” Dixon told Mixmag in 2018, “manifested in techno by a strong focus on future and space, and in house with thousands of songs about heaven. We are living in times where technology can support this but is rather used to create a concert style experience, with a focus on strong visuals around the performing artists.”

Back when Resident Advisor implored readers to share their choices for the top 100 DJs in the world, Dixon spent a number of consecutive years sitting at number one. He has also made enough of an impression to extend his reach into a realm often left untouched by club culture: videogames. Twenty eighteen saw the release of the nightclub-oriented Grand Theft Auto V expansion pack Grand Theft Auto Online: After Hours. The game sees players control a hustling protagonist who, by charm or brute force, attempts to build a virtual after-dark hang. Dixon — along with the likes of Solomun, Tale of Us, and the Black Madonna — is depicted as one of the fictional club's resident DJs and even contributed a mix recorded for the game.

In the summer of 2019, Dixon collaborated with his Innervisions partner Âme to debut Transmoderna — a party series meant to blur the technological boundaries between reality and fantasy — in Ibiza. He explained to Mixmag that the goal of the gathering is “to use technology to put the focus away from the DJ and help to elevate the clubbing experience by interlinking sound, space, lights, and visuals in a way that reality starts to become indistinct.” Even as Dixon is forging singular experiences of his own design, his continual pilgrimages to Miami signal he finds some sort of beauty in the Magic City's clubs, festivals, and fans of electronic music.

If Space resembles less of a nightclub and more of a containment unit for intangible dopamine- and serotonin-rich vapors come Sunday morning, you'll have Dixon to thank.

Dixon. With Trikk. 11 p.m. Saturday, February 29, at Club Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-357-6456; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $11.25 to $60 via residentadvisor.net.

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