Let the Beat Drop: Student DJs Compete in Koret Lodge

During his set, DJ Carl (pictured above) faded Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” into Drake’s “Rich Baby Daddy”, which pumped up the crowd and eventually got them out of their seats and dancing. Photo by Samantha Avila Griffin/SF Foghorn

Against the San Francisco skyline, approximately 100 Dons danced the night away last Thursday night at the Campus Activity Board (CAB)’s DJ Competition, hosted at Koret Lodge.

DJs Jacki, Carl, Halo Halo and Leakz took to the flashing jellyfish-adorned booth to compete for the chance to open at Donaroo, USF’s annual spring festival that has previously been headlined by notable artists like Macklemore, Anderson .Paak, Jhené Aiko and The Driver Era

Sophomore psychology major Natalia Paulik, known to the crowd as DJ Leakz, shared that her favorite part of the night was “hearing new music played and mixed in different ways.” A love for electronic music inspired Paulik, who is also a DJ on KUSF.org, to experiment with it on her own, and she wants to see even more on-campus opportunities for student DJs. “[I want] more festival events, not competition-based but parties and raves,” she said.

The competition took a “last man standing” approach with three rounds and an elimination at the end of each. There were no hard feelings amongst competitors between rounds, said junior politics major Maggie Mordecai. “It was nice to see that the competitors were cheering for each other, all around it was a good time,” she said. 

DJ Halo Halo, Logan Kong, said, “[It] was a good experience to understand what I need to work on.” The sophomore psychology major continued, “It was nice to see everyone come out to support the scene.”

The night culminated in a head-to-head match between audience favorites DJ Jacki and DJ Carl. Winners for each round were determined both by audience reactions and a judge panel composed of Andrew Borgelt, Michael Bricker and Sebas Ramirez. All three are established within the Bay Area music scene. Borgelt is the founder of Blap Productions, a promotional firm that hosts concerts and festivals, Bricker is a professional DJ and host of “The Brick House” radio show and Ramirez is a student DJ at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Though the panel had sole voting power, they took into account which competitors received louder applause. DJ Carl and DJ Jacki went head to head in the final round, in which they each had five minutes to garner love from the audience and impress the judges. 

Senior accounting and finance major, Carl Benedict Danao, known as DJ Carl, said, “My favorite part about the event was all my friends pulling up. I never announced publicly that I even signed up…I didn’t want them to see me mess up live and embarrass myself,” he said. “Seeing them smile and dance to what I was doing was definitely motivating.”

Danao continued, “I was pretty anxious the whole time, but I am honored to [have been in] the top two! To perform was definitely a surreal experience. It motivated me to grind harder and really expose myself more to the DJ scene. It’s a step closer to performing at bars or clubs or possibly even somewhere bigger than that, [which is] a dream of mine.” 

The champion of the night was DJ Jacki, whose smooth cuts and incorporations of classic crowd pleasers including Missy Elliot’s “Work It” and Rihanna’sRude Boy” brought most of the audience out on the floor to chant her name, culminating in a standing ovation. 

“I really liked Jacki’s transitions, they were unexpected and clean, and her vibe got everyone in the room on their feet and dancing,” said junior marketing major Chloe Peissner.

Jacaleen Kizo, a sophomore international business major known as DJ Jacki, said her friends from her home in New Zealand inspired her to get into DJing. “My favorite part about mixing is being able to connect with an audience through music and creating such a beautiful energy within that,” she said. On how it felt to win, Kizo had just one word — “Insane.”

CAB Vice President of Marketing and Communication Leah Possick, said, “This is one of our bigger events, it’s my third year doing it and I feel like it’s grown each time…I love when people get hyped at a transition or song and they start to sing along — we’re here tonight to not only support the student DJs, but also to have fun!” 

Following tradition, the 2024 Donaroo main act was announced publicly for the first time at the night’s end. CAB President Jess Crosby took the stage under the moniker “DJ Jess” to play a mashup of artist Doechii’s most popular songs, announcing the “What It Is” singer to be this year’s headliner. 

Tickets for Donaroo are $20 for USF students and can be purchased on the CAB website

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor:Jordan Premmer, Scene Editor: Inés Ventura

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *