UT DJ community provides opportunities, encourages growth

Catherine Cahn, Life and Arts reporter

At 14-years-old, advertising junior Jordan Busch started sneaking into nightclubs with the aid of his older sister. Busch quickly became entranced by DJing and the electronic music scene, and before long, he found himself DJing at house parties. 

When he arrived at UT, Busch found a community of people and an abundance of opportunities to encourage him as a DJ. While Greek life offers the opportunity to perform in front of large crowds, organizations such as Texas Electronic Music Club allow students to network, improve their skill set and find a welcoming creative community. 

“As an amateur DJ, I would never have the opportunity to play in front of tons of people starting right off,” mechanical engineering junior David Cohen said. “Because I’m the one finding the DJ talents (for my fraternity’s parties), I can just be like ‘Hell, I’m going to open up for this big artist.’” 

However, the DJ community at UT extends far past Greek life. Natalie Ohlsen, English sophomore and president of Texas Electronic Music Club, said their DJing scene caters to all electronic music enthusiasts, creators and DJs.

“Everyone is welcome to come as they are,” Ohlsen said. “(That’s) like the rave scene itself, which is what I love most about it.” 

Ohlsen said she fell in love with electronic dance music in high school after seeing Rezz, a female DJ, at Austin City Limits festival. Since then, Ohlsen said her passion for DJing and electronic music skyrocketed — despite finding herself in a male-dominated arena.

“If you look up top DJs in the world, it’s all males.” Ohlsen said. “I love the female DJs though. There’s Rezz, Lucy the Alien, Alice in Wonderland. Those are the holy trinity right there. Maybe someday I’ll be one of those female DJs.” 

Despite being the only girl at the Texas Electronic meetings, Ohlsen said she never feels unwelcome in the DJ world. She credited this inclusivity to the already accepting rave scene. 

“Peace, love, unity (and) respect is what (the rave scene) goes by,” Ohlsen said. “I would never say (the scene) has felt sexist.” 

The open and accepting DJ world at UT fosters an environment where beginners such as Cohen and Ohlsen, as well as Sixth Street DJs like Busch can find community and succeed. Attempting to further connect amateurs and professionals, Cohen organized an event for UT students last semester that included Carter Cruise, a highly regarded DJ, who he opened for.

“I’m super lucky and privileged to have that opportunity,” Cohen said. “Otherwise, it’d definitely be harder to break into actually playing in front of that many people.” 

Ohlsen said the DJ and EDM scene at UT goes beyond providing party music or entertainment and fosters a true sense of community for those involved.The first time she attended a Texas Electronic meeting, Ohlsen said she quickly felt comfortable.

“I saw a roomful of other EDM lovers, and I was very relieved and happy in that moment,” Ohlsen said. “I felt like I had found my people here at UT.”