DJ Jack Reina :: Makes a Splash
Today’s DJs come in all kinds of flavors. They are know by their own individual and particular stylistic turns at the turntable. DJs are depended upon to set the tone and to rouse the room at any given night, but very few can move as seamlessly through the various demands of an audience like DJ Jack Reina. He got his start back in 2000. "It was a house party on Fire Island, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into." With an inaugural gig that lasted almost 12 hours, he grabbed the attention of several party-goers who easily recognized his intuitive musicality and ease with the rhythm.
"It was some time before I moved into playing at bars." But when he did Reina chose one of New York City’s most commanding dance floors to make his debut. "I had an audition at Splash...and played for about 2 hours; some of the same people I knew from Fire Island actually came out to support me." It wasn’t long before he was headlining at the legendary space.
That Reina has solidly worked in front of an audience for most of his career is no surprise; he began as a dancer until turning to a music mixologist! "As a dancer I was part of an ensemble, but as a DJ - you’re the lead." Grabbing the rooms attention is an intoxicating exhilaration that Reina compares to an art form. "I creatively came alive when I started DJing," he says. "The reaction is quicker and it’s directed at you." It was also that sensitivity with the crowd that allowed Reina to respond to his audience, and to play best to the crowd. "That’s the fun of it. That’s the challenge."
Sexy and Moody...
As his legend continued to grow, so did the venues. Jack easily started to weave himself into the circuit party scene, grabbing a phenomenal opportunity to play the San Francisco Folsom Street Festival’s Real Bad dance event in 2004. "There were more than 2,000 people packed into a club and I realized just how much fun this was," he remembers. He also recalled the freedom he felt as part of such a great party. "I didn’t worry about all the little things, like song choices and the technical side, making sure my mixes were clean - I just had a great time."
Since then and having had the opportunity to play to so many different rooms, Reina has noted that his mixing style has changed and adapted over the years. "I certainly gravitated to circuit music...then it segued into darker tribal sounds," which reflected the vibe and mood of the clubs and bars that he started to book mostly in New York City, spaces like The Eagle. "The places I was playing at really liked sexy music," he laughs. And though he still feels that his music choices tend to gear towards sexy, the tone reflected is a happier one.
Perhaps some of the joy is a credit to Reina’s collaborations at the turntable - and off with partner DJ Jeff Lewis, who is most popularly known for his original remixes as Radboy. Reina has premiered many of Lewis’ latest productions, and set the floor on fire.
With the musical tapestry of nightlife always diversifying, I asked Jack about the current trends in especially affecting his dance floor playlist. "Vocals will always remain popular. People will always like vocals...yet electro-house (like David Guetta) is very big right now." And though he does often turn to the mainstay divas - Lady Gaga, Rihanna - to get the floor going, Reina is a fan of the UK remix duo The Freemasons. "Their new remix of George Michael’s ’I Want Your Sex’ just grabs you by the balls and yanks you...it’s great!"