DJ Spotlight: DJ T-Lex (Alexis)

DJ Spotlight: DJ T-Lex (Alexis)

DJ T-Lex (Alexis McKenna) has honed her skills both as an organizer and DJ in Philly and New York, and now Washington, D.C., on national, regional, and local levels. You can regularly catch her at Philly’s Powerhouse Blues and semi regularly at New York’s Friday Night Blues, Melting Pot, Dance at Dusk Fusion (Brooklyn), The Pearl Dive, and house parties. She is also one half of DJ Salty Lex, a collaboration with NYC fusion DJ Sabrina Salty.

As a blues DJ (and coordinator) T-Lex is deeply committed to honoring and celebrating the rich legacy of Black music, recognizing its profound impact throughout history and across various genres.

1. What is your partner dance background?
My dance background is mainly blues and fusion connections with tasters of different partner dances. I’ve been dancing for close to 9 years at this point, DJing both fusion and blues for over 7, and have been the DJ Coordinator at Powerhouse Blues in Philly for about 6.

2. How did you discover fusion dancing?
Well, I went on a date, which turned into an invitation to a 24 hr epic fusion dance party two hours away the next weekend. I had never danced before but found myself carpooling with 1 person I barely knew (and 2 others I had only met once before). The girl and I didn’t work out romantically but are still friends; dancing stuck and became my passion.

3. How did you get started as a DJ?
A blues DJ I have huge respect for asked me to DJ her house parties. I turned her down twice. The third time she came to me, I asked why she wanted me knowing I’m not a DJ and she told me that when she DJs I “always come and ask about the good music”. I couldn’t turn her down the third time. 

4. What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a fusion DJ?
Not being able to play what I want for certain scenes. I have a such a wide array of music for all levels and dance styles that a scene isn’t always familiar with it. I have to find songs they know laced with things that they don’t – which usually ends up being big hits!

5. What is different about how you listen to music as a dancer vs as a DJ?
I’ve always gravitated toward music that gives me a visceral reaction and DJing is a continuation of that. My tastes run from classic metal to soul, gangsta rap to Afro-Caribbean, 70’s rock to today’s pop, just to start. I play what moves me, even if it’s not my own dance style – I want to make sure that the music is accessible to more than one dance style, skill level, and/or energy level. I’ll mindlessly listen to tunes for hours, feel myself start to move to the music, then want to listen to on repeat. I pay attention to my body and throw the track into a list to consider for a set. 

6. What do you love most about being a fusion DJ?
I’m creating art with my set list that keeps people dancing and introduces them to new music. It’s such a compliment when people come up to ask me what song I just played (especially other DJs), say they came to the event because they knew I was DJing, or tell me tongue in cheek that they are mad at me because they can’t stop dancing and are tired though want to keep going because the music is so good.

7. What’s a track you’ve discovered recently that fusion dancers will love?

For Ya – by Paloma Mamí