4AM DJ Tour Diary: DJ Theory Hits the Sundance Film Festival
As a manager and partner at 4AM DJs, I’m constantly arranging performances, events, and photo shoots around the world. Every day, I get reports back from my DJs filled with stories about the kinds of wild adventures I rarely get to be a part of as a desk jockey. The people who flock to these stellar international events get to experience the end result of months of prep, but do they really know what a day in the life of a DJ is like? In this monthly column, you’ll hear first-hand accounts of DJ war stories, with photos and videos from the world’s best to show for it. In this fourth 4AM DJ Tour Diary, you’ll read about DJ Theory‘s wild few days in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival, where he spun at our Sunday Funday party at Tao. Yours truly, Adam Alpert.
Saturday, January 22: Sundance is a festival for independent films. We, however, set out to Utah for a much different reason — to DJ, of course. The events included our famous Funday event at TAO at the Samsung Galaxy Tab Lift, thanks to Strategic Group’s Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. Our journey out West started where many often do — at Terminal 5 of JFK, throwing back shots of Patron. I arrived to the airport to be greeted by Kirill of KirillWasHere.com, Loren Whalen, Vanessa Lennon, DJ Sinatra, and Vanessa Ratnavich. Jonny Lennon, my manager at 4AM, had assembled a strong team of individuals. We were meeting him and DJ Jesse Marco who were already in Park City, and we ran into XIX’s Ruben Rivera, who ended up joining us on our JetBlue flight to Salt Lake City.
During the flight, most of us slept, myself included. Row 3E-F, comprised of Kirill, Sinatra and Vanessa R., played “Black and Yellow” on repeat, and drank mini bottles of Jameson until we touched down in Utah. As soon as we landed, our entire group decided that it would be a good idea to head straight to Park City and check out what was up. We were all a little stir crazy and ready to meet up with everyone else. Thanks to Thrifty Car Rental and driving from Loren, we all arrived quickly and in one piece. We hit some gifting suites and got some cool swag. Later, all of us headed to Tao Sundance. The venue looked great; alcohol was flowing like it came from a water fountain. Our entire team was in one place.
We met up with Kristina Marino of Downtown Diaries, Sarah Appleton, PJ Monte, Julian Cavin, and the rest of the crew. The group made their way around the room, saying hello to their respective friends and colleagues. I enjoyed many a Stella Artois from the seemingly endless buckets positioned every 10 feet. Despite being in Utah, there was an overwhelming presence of New Yorkers. I ran into fellow DJs the Chainsmokers on my way to the bathroom. Finally, around 3:30 a.m., we decided to begin the long trek back to the 4AM Sundance house, a huge 7000-square-foot ski chalet outside town. Our group finally pulled into the driveway around 5 a.m., exhausted and ready to crash.
Sunday, Funday, January: I woke up and wandered upstairs into the kitchen to find a delicious breakfast being made. A few brave souls, Jesse Marco included, had headed off to the Park City Slopes to get some fresh powder. We watched the AFC championship football game. The Jets lost, only briefly dampening our spirits as we prepared for our party at Tao. Some friends prepared an Italian feast for the entire house. Jonny, Loren and myself headed into Park City in our 4AM-stickered Ford Excursion before everyone else, as I was DJing Jamie Patricof’s Little Birds premiere after party before Sunday Funday.
While walking down Main Street on my way to the event, I realized I had left my laptop sitting on the counter at the house. Luckily, one of the guys was nice enough to drive into town to deliver it just as the event was starting. I took a deep breath and began spinning just as the doors opened. By 11 p.m., the venue was filled front to back. The crowd enjoyed the music, chatting with each other until midnight, when Sunday Funday began. As the room loosened up, it shifted from an event into a real nightclub party. I played a quick hip-hop set, dropping Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa” and Naughty by Nature’s “Jamboree,” as well as Big Boi’s “Shutterbug.” By the time Jon Lennon, Jesse Marco, and DJ Sinatra made their way through the packed crowd at 12:45, there wasn’t a single person standing still.
Jesse hopped on the decks next, opening with the Kill Bill theme, a song that fit both the mood of the party and the film industry crowd. Soon, the room was dancing to club anthems like A-Trak’s “Barbara Streisand” and “Heads Will Roll.” After our kind waitress kept the bottles of Patron coming, our night blurred. At one point, our table of friends had 4 circulating handles of alcohol being passed around. While the overall music wasn’t as loud as we would have liked, the DJ booth monitor kept the immediate area towards the stage well fed with sound. Much to our dismay, it overheated throughout the night, causing it to turn off.
The room didn’t seem to notice the lack of sound, as party revelers continued raging late into the night. Recent 4AM signee, DJ Mia Moretti, who had performed at the Day & Night brunch and many other events, came by to say hello. Diplo showed up and dropped a quick but memorable set. Cee-Lo, Shwayze and Jermaine Dupri were there too, and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Just as expected, the Tao space was at capacity until 3:59, when the speakers were promptly shut off. A “Broooooooklyn” chant erupted, led by DJ Sinatra. We exited as a group, piling into the 4AM-mobile out front.
The drive back to our house was complete with a stop at 7/11. Sinatra discovered what the inside of a walk-in beer fridge looked like, a life-long desire of his. We bought enough frozen pizzas to feed a medium-sized town. An anonymous superstar DJ learned what a bottle of Patron felt like the second time around. Some slept, some fretted over the location of their wallet. Back at the house, we reviewed pictures taken that night by Kirill, and ate like kings until the wee hours.
Monday, January 24th: After 5 hours sleep, the entire house arose at noon to go snowmobiling. After last year’s inaugural outing, we were all very excited to spend the afternoon cruising around the snow-covered woods. We managed to pack 15 people into our Ford Excursion, and set off towards Salt Lake City, traversing through the mountains along the way. Upon arriving at our destination, we realized we had entered the wrong city into the GPS, and were 80 miles away from the correct Thousand Peaks, Utah’s largest mountain ranch. After our slight course correction, we met up with friend Jon Alagem, and got ready to hit the snow.
I can only describe snowmobiling as riding a motorized polar bear. We spent the whole afternoon ripping around flats, finding jumps, and racing each other before ascending into the mountains. After hours in the cold, our entire group headed to the grocery store to gather supplies for dinner. Back at the house, each person helped prepare our feast. Jesse showed us his signature steak marinade, a combination of Italian and Japanese cooking. I prepared a delicious vegetarian-friendly meal. Our Utah-family dinner was served, and afterwards everyone relaxed, still recovering from the night before. I played a few matches of ping-pong before falling asleep at 11:45. Tuesday, January 25th: Much to my surprise, I was the first one awake on Tuesday. I hadn’t seen 8:45 a.m., in a while, so it was nice to experience a real morning. I was heading to the slopes with my friend Sarah for a day of skiing. After breakfast, we both grabbed our gear and drove into town. It had been 3 years since I had been on a pair of skis. After many years of ski racing while growing up, I was excited to be back on the snow. We had a nice dusting of fresh powder as well. By 10:30, we were at the summit of Park City Mountain. The two of us spent the morning gathering our bearings. After a quick stop for lunch, we were fortunate enough to be shown around the mountain by a local who was familiar with the terrain.
In no time at all, we were standing at the tip of the infamous Jupiter bowl, terrain so steep that if you stood too close to the edge, the ground underneath you would crumble. After some contemplating, we all dropped into the steep pitch and experienced an exhilarating ride through the back woods, miles from any other skiers. Late in the afternoon, we met up with Jesse and Natalia. All of us finished the day with a quick meal at lodge and headed back to the house. We headed to the airport to catch the redeye flight back to New York. I was asleep before we left the ground, tired after a long day of skiing. We landed as the sun was coming up. I was back home, comfortably in my bed a little before 7 a.m., happy with the successful weekend I just had in Utah.