On any given evening, you're likely to find Dario Varela inside of a Valley nightclub. If it's during the weekend, he'll be working the mixers at joints like Oceans Seven. On other nights, however, he's usually on the other side of the DJ booth, observing other selectas order to help hone his skills or scope out new songs to spin.
DJing is oftentimes a 24/7 thing for Varela, who's also occasionally performs on 95.1 Latino Vibe or at local high school assemblies as a part of the AZ Party Rockers.
He's also a veteran of the Latin dance scene downtown Phoenix, having previously gigged at such clubs as Sky Lounge and the currently-defunct Club Silver. His musical palette ain't limited to merengue and hype club bangers from Pitbull, however, as he's also a huge fan of house music and electro jams.
Varela recently spoke with Up on the Sun about his musical tastes, life in the Latin club scene, and the racial divide between clubgoers in downtown Phoenix.
Name: Dario Varela
AKA: DJ Dario
Current gigs: Oceans Seven in Scottsdale on Thursdays and Fridays, Saturdays at Jackrabbit Lounge.
Genres spun: It differs. On Thursdays, I do hip-hop and Top 40 and a little bit of Latin. And then on Saturday I spin hip-hop and a lot of electro because it's Scottsdale.
The perks of being a DJ: Honestly, the number one thing I like about DJing is the reaction people give you. The other day as I was working, there was a point where everyone in the place was jumping and having a great time. It felt really good. Its what keeps me motivated to do what I do.
Spinning in Scottsdale vs. Spinning in Phoenix: Spinning in Scottsdale allows me to expand my music format to include more poppy and electro-house stuff, whereas in downtown Phoenix I have to stick to the hip-hop and Latin. The last hour at Jackrabbit, we do nothing but house and electro. I'd never be able to get away with that in downtown. There's also more of a party atmosphere in Scottsdale.
What always gets the crowd going? Pitbull, most definitely. The thing about Pitbull is that it gets people vibing and pump them up either in Phoenix or Scottsdale, no matter if they're white, black, or Latino.
Top 40 DJs typically tend to play the same tracks repeatedly. How do you mix things up? Sometimes I'll drop an old-school track or something and people will go, "Man, this is the heat! I can't believe I haven't heard this before." Or in Scottsdale I'll throw off the crowd by slipping in a Latin song they're not expecting to hear. Even if its like white people or black, if the song is cool enough they'll still vibe off of it, even if its Latin music.
What's something about yourself that no one knows? I guess a lot of people don't know this about me, but I'm really hard on myself when it comes to DJing. Like if I don't do well on a set or something goes wrong I take it really personally.
How does the Latin club scene differ from other local scenes? Just the vibe and people. You'll get people who dress differently, act differently, drink differently. It's completely different worlds and completely different music. I'm friends with tons of DJs that work other clubs and other scenes, like Pete Salaz and Senbad. Even thought we all work in different worlds but we all know each other. I may DJ what I DJ, but I'm also a huge fan of house music, electro, dubstep and all that.
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The clubs along Washington Street run the gamut from hip-hop to hipster to Latin joints. Is there a distinct divide between the people that come out to each place? Yeah. You'll almost never see white Bar Smith partygoers hanging out at the Latin places like Sky Lounge, or the PHX Nightclub customers going into Club Silver. Everyone just sticks with their own scene and with what they're used to.
Who are some of your favorite Latin artists?
One of the person who's coming up in the Latin scene is Don Omar. Shakira is always coming out with those bangers that even if you're not into Latin you'll still vibe off of it.
Where do you get your music?
Websites like Break the Crates and Latin Music Pool, other blogs, places like that. You also share a lot of music with other DJs or music companies will send you stuff all the time.