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Thursday, October 15, 2015

DJ Playboi on the Elements of a Successful Club and Improving South Bay Nightlife

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 10:32 AM

Back before Silicon Valley became the infamous tech mecca it is today, Joseph Garibaldi Gomez, aka DJ Playboi, was throwing day parties and events where people valued the simple ambiance of drinking and dancing to the selections of local DJs over extravagant launch parties. Starting his event promotion career in 1999 at just 18, he quickly became known as the “promoter kid” before he could even legally buy alcohol.

Because of the success of his early events, Garibaldi Gomez spent the next few years building his promotion company Playboi Presents along with investing in clubs and producing various events. In the mid-‘00s, he made the decision to pursue DJing full-time as well, and since then, has maintained the life of a full-time DJ and promoter. We spoke with DJ Playboi about the difficulties of event promotion, the South Bay nightlife scene, and his musical mantra. He plays this Friday [10/16] at Parliament in downtown Oakland and shares a bill with J. Espinosa and headliner DJ Snoopadelic (Snoop Dogg) this Saturday, [10/17] at 1015 Folsom.

How did you initially start producing events?
It really just came naturally I guess? Not sure, but when I moved back to the Bay Area to San Jose from Modesto in ‘98, I started meeting a ton of new people through family and people from work. I was going out every weekend nonstop. Suddenly in the summer of 1999 (I was 18 at the time), I started putting together these big day parties in San Jose at Hellyer Park. They started ranging from 200 to about 700 people before we were banned in 2004 from doing them anymore. But I was booking local DJs, getting permits from the city and county for stuff I needed, BBQing food, buying beer (I had someone else buy the kegs), which initially just started out as my boy Ulises and my birthday. We ended up throwing many more. Those huge summer day events from the late ‘90s to 2004 just really took off and I was known as this promoter kid ever since. We actually just did the 16-year anniversary of that event in San Jose last month.

When did you decide being in the nightlife industry would be a full-time job for you?
I think maybe 2005, right around the time I started playing Fantasy Football. Carson Palmer was my QB and the Raiders began to suck… so its been a while! I was working two jobs Monday to Friday 8-5 and 5-10, and also promoting at a couple clubs downtown San Jose at the time. The money I started making from the clubs was more than both my jobs, so I gave it some thought and quit my day jobs.

What's the biggest change you've seen in producing events in the past 16 years?
I think a lot has changed. Back then radio was utilized a lot for promotions; nowadays obviously the Internet is a huge resource. If you were a promoter in the '90s or early '00s we printed tons of flyers. Hardly anyone prints flyers anymore. I always had a blast going out passing out flyers, especially walking in the middle of the street all the way down Santa Clara street in San Jose and passing out stacks and stacks of flyers… cruising was huge back then. Things just always get bigger and better I guess you could say with time. One of my buddies did huge raves at the San Jose Fairgrounds back in the late '90s when stages and sound systems weren’t so extravagant. Now it’s huge stages and light shows or what not; they’ve grown massively.

Tell us some of the main differences you've observed between the South Bay and SF club scene.
SF is pretty much a go-to spot for the entire Bay Area; its pretty much in the middle, so you will always get a huge, diverse crowd. You can — pretty much — find many different events that may cater to something you like as far as music or crowd. The San Jose club scene unfortunately is not what it was years ago, sad to say. There’s actually hardly any clubs anymore. There are more bars nowadays. San Jose still does have a good amount of diverse bars to check out. Years back San Jose was full of clubs and we'd actually get a ton of people from out of town back then, the South Bay is huge, the largest of any region in the Bay Area. Thing about SF though is that people from all over will attend many of those events, like a big melting pot.

Do you think the tech industry has anything to do with less clubs and more bars in San Jose?
Technically, no. A huge part of it has been downtown San Jose's redevelopment process of building many new condo towers in recent years. Many landlords of downtown have been upping leases on club and bar owners if they want you out, or not renewing leases. And many of those landlords have ties to politicians in favoring a more mild downtown for new residents. I lived downtown for 7 years before I moved. I moved to be around a vibrant downtown nightlife, not to have only a couple bars to choose from. It defeats the purpose; I would imagine many people feel the same. SJ needs to get it together.  The condos are the right direction. Now nightlife needs to make a comeback and the city needs to bend to an extent to help make that happen, otherwise I'll keep going to SF.

What are some telltale signs of a successful nightclub?
There are a lot of different elements that come into play here. Every nightclub/bar is different, but some of the basics starts with the behind the scenes stuff first, not how it looks, or the sound system, hot cocktail waitresses or DJs. It all starts before that. Location plays a part many times. Someone within the company has a vision. Within the vision they run a good plan. To have a good plan they are knowledgeable in the direction they’re going to make the decision of what kind of venue it will be as far as demographic and talent then start hiring accordingly. Professional and dependable staff, management, good ideas, security needs to be professional, and of course solid marketing with solid talent. Learn how to be innovative, be different but exciting! Then of course yes, solid sound system and lighting, and good design would be a nice blueprint for successful nightclub. Now where’s my 20 percent? I’ll be telling Snoop this Saturday… the game is to be sold not told!

DJ Playboi is a pretty ambitious DJ name. What's the most notable comment someone has had about it?
I don’t really get comments, but 90 percent of the time I’m introduced as that, and people sometimes need a double take. I just say my real name right after. The name actually just comes from a friend of mine when I was 18; he was always trying to clown me. Then one day he nicknamed me "Playboy Joe" making fun of the way I used to dress at the time, saying I always dressed like a “pretty boy.” Whatever, haters gonna hate. But yeah ended up sticking after a while. 
What's it going to be like playing with DJ Snoopadelic this Saturday?
This Saturday is going to be dope! I’m just going to do what I do. Then me and J (J. Espinosa) will probably have a couple drinks while he’s bragging to me that he's the best DJ in the nation right now. Then we will probably just watch Snoop do his thing. Maybe get contact high? I don’t know. Should be good times though. It’s not often I get to chill with Uncle Snoop.

How do you prepare for a set like that?
If you’re a true open format DJ or like to consider yourself that, you just got to be prepared for anything. Hell, I got Garth Brooks ready to go if I had to open for him. Get me my wranglers and let’s go!

Lastly, what's your musical mantra when it comes to DJing?
Be prepared and try your best to keep everyone happy. The keep everyone happy part might be hard and probably impossible, who knows? But if you’re prepared you'd probably do well at making an entire audience happy. People want to hear good music, and people are diverse. Study, plan, and be prepared.
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Christina Li


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