It’s midnight on a Tuesday at the beautiful and intimate Blush Boutique nightclub, and it’s getting more crowded by the second. The living room-like club is packed with attractive women in the tightest and tiniest pieces of silk and well-dressed, wealthy-looking men. It’s industry night, the club’s most popular night of the week, and also the night of The Undisputed, a DJ heavyweight battle featuring DJs Crooked, Scooter, Justin Hoffman, Sid Vicious, Cobra, Sean Perry, Eleven, Three Mike B., Reflex, Karma, Rush, Chris Cutz, Neva and Fresh One. I ask DJ Hoffman, who is chilling by the booth waiting for his turn, for his take on the big showdown.
Hoffman explains that it isn’t a battle at all. “It’s billed as ‘The Undisputed’ because no one is disputing. We’re all friends -- we talk on the phone, trade music on IM.” Then he introduces me to DJ Crooked from NYC. “Look at his teeth!” He points to his buddy’s mouth and laughs. DJ Crooked isn’t offended. Despite his gangster appearance, he is thoroughly amiable. In a cute Brooklyn accent, he explains that the battle is “a showcase for two guys to square off. It’s a chance for you to bring your A game. I’m not very articulate,” he apologizes, looking down at his fancy kicks. I ask him if he is nervous. “All the time,” he admits. “Everyone here knows about music. Even if they’re your friends, you don’t wanna, you know, suck. Vegas is one of the first cities I’ve been to where the DJs are friendly with each other and help each other. Other cites are really cutthroat. There are a lot of good DJs and a lot of good people here, ya know?”
I didn’t know, but now I do. DJ Mighti Mi, the referee of the battle and Blush’s official resident DJ, is also extremely friendly. He also moved here from New York to pursue a DJ career, and calls Vegas “DJ heaven.” “This is the first Tuesday I’ve had off in months!” he tells me with a smile, but says he loves his job. He introduces me to Sean Christie, the owner of Blush, a handsome, well-dressed fellow, who doesn’t like his picture taken and stands quietly by himself in the corner. I ask Mighti Mi who he picks as the winner of the (nonexistent) battle. “If I had to pick a winner, it would be DJ Justin Hoffman. He has the most experience.” DJ Hoffman is very busy spinning, but he gives us a grin and a thumbs up. A stylish Asian man runs up “This is sick, man!” He yells enthusiastically at DJ Hoffman, then smacks the booth before he runs back to the dance floor.
As Hoffman puts on some poppin’ hip-hop tracks, I decide I should follow him. I immediately get sandwiched by two large men, but the music is good, so I just go with it. Later, over drinks, I get to talking to one of my dance partners. He’s a giant African-American bartender, also from New York, who tells me stories about growing up in “the Golden Age of hip-hop” (NYC in the ’80s) across the street from the members of the hip-hop group EPMD and during the reign of Run DMC, A Tribe called Quest and LL Cool J. “I grew up when hip-hop was pure and it was about something. Back then, mixing was more important than playing the hot (stuff). These mixers on the West Coast aren’t 100 percent. DJing is about keeping the party going, not about what came out last week.”
For refined sensibilities, the DJ sets may not have been up to par at the DJ Battle that night, but for the crowd, who was there for a good time, they were indisputably sick.