DJ Spotlight: Jeanette Holmes

NYC’s amazing fusion DJs reveal their partner dance backgrounds,how they started DJing, thoughts on fusion music, and more! 

1. What is your partner dance background?
I started dancing in the Country-Western scene when I lived in Dallas ages ago. I found West Coast Swing and began dancing, and later DJ-ing, WCS in Dallas. When I moved to New York City, I was primarily a WCS dancer, and continued DJ-ing WCS. Some friends brought me to some blues parties, and I loved it! I soon became a regular at blues events, both as a dancer and a DJ.

2. How did you discover fusion dancing?
From the Blues scene, finding fusion dancing is pretty easy. So many of us were excited to try something new! To me, fusion has always been a natural fit. I have always been on the lookout for dancers from another scene, and I love dancing with them and seeing how our connections work together. I get this experience regularly at fusion, which is why I was hooked from the start!

2. How did you get started as a DJ?
When I lived in Dallas and was active in the West Coast Swing scene, a woman who was extremely influential in the scene became frustrated that all of the local DJs were men. So she organized special nights where she lined up several women to learn to DJ, and we played in pairs, one hour per pair. She asked me to participate, and I’ve been playing ever since!

3. What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a fusion DJ?
The diversity of music in the fusion scene is impressive, and the potential is overwhelming. It’s too much for any one DJ to keep up with, which is why it’s so great that there are multiple DJs and multiple perspectives at fusion dances. We need many different voices!

4. What is different about how you listen to music as a dancer vs as a DJ?
As a dancer I’m staying in the current moment, connecting with my partner, connecting with the music, experiencing the energy in the room. As a DJ, I’m thinking about the experience of the night as a whole. This includes making sure there is a diversity of music and having a flow to the set so that it’s not jarring in terms of energy. Listening to music as a DJ has a really different component–it’s not just deciding if I want to dance to this song. It’s also asking, how can I use this song? I often hear a song and think about if it can be used to build energy, to bring energy down, to float on, to transition between genres, to get a room started, to close out a session. Most of the songs I play have a purpose or a function in addition to being a song I think is great for dancing.

5. What do you love most about being a fusion DJ?
The fusion scene is generally really open to different musical styles, and it’s been fun exploring music and trying it out for fusion dancing.  It gives me an outlet for a lot of music that I love and want to dance to, but isn’t really appropriate for either blues or West Coast Swing.  

6. What’s a track you’ve discovered recently that fusion dancers will love?
There are so many! One that I haven’t played yet for fusion and I’m really excited about playing and dancing to is Healing Creek by Talibah Safiya.