Student DJs Mix Things Up At Winter Formal
By Grace Levy
High School dances are notorious for spiked punch, drama on the dance floor, and bad DJs, and while some things will always remain the same, a new spin on the music front could change the vibe of an entire night. Novato High seniors, Peter Gamble and Gabriel Herrera, were the DJs for the 2017 Winter Formal dance, a first for the high school.
A service that would typically cost the school around $1500 vanished when these students offered to DJ for free as part of their year-long project in their product design class.
“They don’t have to pay us so that works out for them,” Gamble said. “It’s a win-win. We started in product design; we wanted to do a year-long project with producing and mixing.”
Not only did this endeavor involve their design class, but also coincided with Herrera’s senior project.
“This could be considered part of my senior project if I wanted to add it. My senior project is music production. This isn’t the only thing I’m doing, but I could include it,” Herrera said.
“This is mixing not producing. They’re two different things,” Gamble explained. “Producing is actually composing the music on a digital audio workshop and mixing is actually doing it live on a mixer board.”
For Winter Formal, the seniors mixed live, something that is more complicated than it seems.
“You have two tracks playing and you can switch between them and that’s how you do transitions,” Herrera said. “You have one playing and you can slowly bring the other one in.”
“They have to be of similar beats per minute or else they just won’t work together,” Gamble added.
To do so, they used three materials including a mixing board, a computer, and speakers.
“I bought this [mixer board]. This is the actual thing I used at Winter Formal,” Gamble explained. “I bought a program on my computer that translates the data from this onto the computer to play through the speakers. Everything is on here; all the different sounds. It’s a lot of fun.”
Novato High School senior Veronica Arata’s job in Leadership is to hire DJs for NHS dances. She is excited about the possibilities student DJs can bring to dances in the future.
“I think student DJs are great,” Arata said. “They definitely know what we want to hear and what kids like. It's also a new opportunity for the school to reach out more into the community.”
Novato High freshman Kalen El-Masri appreciated the community aspect the student DJs brought.
“It was cool to see them giving back to their community,” Kalen El-Masri said.
Damaris Benavides, freshman at Novato High School, enjoyed her first Winter Formal experience.
“I liked it a lot, I’m really into EDM [electronic dance music] and electronics so I was super hyped when I was hearing all these songs that I know and actually jam out to,” said Benavides. “Along with that, they were jumping around and throwing water at people which was fun.”
The success of Gamble and Herrera’s night could set the tone for future high school dances around the world, as student DJs rise in popularity and practicality.