The author Virginia Woolf once posited that literature must surely be the most challenging of all the arts. The writer, she observed, is tasked with painting the landscape of a life - with a beginning, a middle and some form of conclusion - using a paintbrush with no colors. The landscape of experience, Woolf said, was far more easily constructed with the palette of the painter.
Imagine if, instead of mere words, Woolf had been limited to just drums and a sex-coated groove.
It's a quandary DJ Alyson Calagna knows well, and has mastered as perfectly as Woolf's command of the word. And just like her literary counterpart, the South Florida spin-mistress also finds herself a successful female artist amidst a field of colleagues who are almost exclusively men.
Woolf may have found comfort in a "room of one's own," but Calagna has found her own sound in the DJ booth, and later this month, she'll be one of the headliner artists commanding the dance at The White Party, a benefit for Care Resource.
For Calagna, the doctrine of the dance floor comes down to two things: Truth and Self.
"My philosophy is pretty basic," she told Ambiente Magazine. "Be true to yourself and your sound. That has worked for me all these years . . . it's about [the] music."
That mindset has guided the South Florida DJ for 15 years. It's a mantra that has formed over her years on several continents and two of the most musically influential cities in the United States .
"I grew up overseas for most of my childhood," she said. "I lived in Dubai , and there I was influenced by the ethnic drums, chants and rhythms. Then I lived in Aberdeen , Scotland for a bit, where I first discovered House Music. That piqued my interest at a young age, and I became infatuated by that European house sound; I still am today."
Later, Calagna's family moved to Louisiana , where she has played extensively, including at the city's Southern Decadence weekend, where she was scheduled to appear this past September until Hurricane Gustav shelved those plans.
"When my family and I moved back to Louisiana , the music was totally different," she recalls. "[There was] lots of jazz, which is why I love the sound of brass so much. Soul, Zydeco and country were always being played, too."
The landscape of sound continues to develop, and followed her to the Fort Lauderdale area, which she now calls home. But the music scene in other countries where she has played also serves as a compass whenever she plays.
"There is always a different sound when you go from country to country," she told me. "For instance, Brazil is very fast-paced tribal, and in Toronto , I can play a bit for funky and electro fans. The great thing about playing in different counties is [that] you can adapt to what they like, all while staying true to yourself as well."
As for Miami , a city nearby her current home, she says it "is a huge part of the dance music scene. There is a vibe here that is like no other. It's the Latin influence; it's sexy and has an energy that is indescribable."
As Calagna's profile has grown exponentially in the last few years, her resume has expanded to include a broad array of events, including, just this year, stops in Vancouver , Chicago , Detroit , San Antonio, Dallas and Washington , D.C. On Labor Day Saturday - typically the slowest weekend of the year in the nation's capital - she packed in a full house at Town, a local dance club know for hosting some of the country's top DJ talent.
Continue reading this article at Ambiente Magazine online.