Jon Wafer, better known by his moniker Waff, isn't your average strip club customer. A few years ago at a seedy joint in Mexico, Wafer sat alone near the stage while his friends went missing into champagne rooms. Wearing flowing locks like a young Antonio Banderas, he caught the eye of a pole acrobat on the prowl. Weak to her advances, Wafer agreed to a lap dance. Little did she know the DJ from England had something else in mind.
“I’m awkward at strip clubs and feel sorry for the ladies that want to put their tits on me. When I first saw her, I could see she was depressed. She asked me to go for a dance and I agreed, but I only wanted to have a chat," he recalls. "Then she realized I’d taken a genuine interest in her and she started crying."
Wafer is at the airport in Ecuador when we connect on a WhatsApp call. He played for 40 hours over the course of three days at Lost Beach Club as part of its multiday Carnival bender. But that's not a stretch for the DJ, who plans to spend the rest of 2018 playing three to five shows a week at venues around the world. He's having the time of his life, he says, but this dream-come-true roared through hell on the way to now. Before his DJ days, Wafer was a drug dealer, crashing on his mate’s couch in Leeds and regularly broke Notorious B.I.G.’s fourth commandment: "Never get high on your own supply." He broke up with his girlfriend and hit rock bottom.
But in the trenches of chaos, Wafer visited a psychic, who prophesied good news.
“I was a struggling DJ and producer when I went to see her. She told me success in the music industry was coming soon, and two weeks later I signed my first track to the Hot Creations label,” he says.
Based in London, Hot Creations was cofounded in 2010 by house-techno authorities Jamie Jones and Lee Foss. They also operate the legendary Paradise party every Wednesday at the nightclub DC10 in Ibiza, where Waff is a staple. That party moves to Club Space during Miami Music Week for Paradise in Miami March 23. Jamie Jones, Less Foss, Nicole Moudaber, Art Department, Waff, and other Paradise regulars are confirmed. To warm things up for the approaching MMW madness, Wafer will take his tank tops and tunes to Space Saturday, March 3.
Wafer is quick to acknowledge he’s on top of the world, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to problems. He changed agencies in early 2017, which he says was both the most difficult and best decision he’s ever made.
“My new agency put me at the top, and I started getting quality gigs. Life is amazing; I feel so blessed to have it. Everything I ever dreamed is happening. Every experience is so good,” he gushes.
Waff's music ranges from Ibiza sunshine sounds to Berlin black-leather beats. DC10 and Berghain are close to his heart, but he savors many Magic City memories as well. There was the 16-hour set at Heart Nightclub in February 2017 and last year’s marathon MMW closing party with the Martinez Brothers at Space. His upcoming March shows will mark his fifth and sixth in Miami. He also has two EPs set to be released in the next few months, one on Hot Creations and another on Adam Beyer’s Drumcode Records. He’s peaking artistically and spiritually.
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Some DJs cast joy from the booth; their happiness is contagious. That’s Waff. Like disco-ball beams, his cheeky grin will stretch across the Space Terrace. Who knows, perhaps there’ll be an ambitious kid living on a friend’s couch somewhere in the Miami audience.
Wafer offers this advice: “Follow your passions, never doubt, dedicate to something, and realize that struggle is a must. It’s part of the journey.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Waff changed management companies in 2014.