Spinderella

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THE RIGHT TRACK | Alyson Calagna gladly comes back to Dallas to spin out the beats for this weekend’s Purple Party. She headlines the Sunday night tea dance where the boys are opening for her.

Out DJ Alyson Calagna travels the world, but spinning at Dallas’  Purple Party — which starts Friday — is still one of her favorite gigs

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Alyson Calagna has truly earned her spot as one of the most prominent DJs in today’s dance music scene, whether she’s spinning at her homebase of Miami or touring in Asia. What makes Calagna distinctive from other DJs isn’t that she’s a woman in a male-dominated field, or that she’s an out lesbian. It’s that she’s developed a specific style and grown that into marquee status. She doesn’t want to be one of the boys, but she does have them opening for her.

Before her headlining set at the Purple Party Weekend Tea Dance at Plush this weekend, Calagna took a break from her duties in China to offer some insight to today’s DJ scene. She approaches both her music and the industry with a certain amount of spirituality — and balls.

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Dallas Voice: You said recently it’s a lot easier to be a girl DJ. Has that worked to your advantage in your career? Calagna: I’m sure I said it’s easier nowadays compared to what it was like coming up. It used to be very tough to try and break into a male dominated scene, but now it’s not unusual to see a girl in the booth.

Where do you see DJ culture is now, at the level you’re in? I think it has become a bit pop-driven, meaning it’s the “cool” thing to do and be now. I was looking at a SkyMall in-flight magazine and there was an ad for a tiny mixer attached to a laptop with a header that says “Be A DJ!”  It’s pretty funny when you think about it.

Does that bug you, minimizing the talent it takes to do your job? I still believe that it takes a certain type of DJ to really break through and stay through. A true DJ can stand the test of time, play for different audiences and adapt and evolve in the moment.

How do you tweak your style for Dallas audiences? The great thing about Dallas is there is no tweaking. I have been very fortunate in Texas and I absolutely adore my Texas tribe. They have heard me for years and they know and trust me. It’s truly one of my favorite cities to play in.

So it’s fair to you say you like playing the Purple Party? I feel that Purple is part of my family, they are really good to me and in return I’m good to them. It’s a give-and-take relationship between the board, the boys and the music. I am always so excited to play for them!

You always seem to be playing “for the boys.” Being a lesbian, do the ladies ever try to pull you back in? I have played for girl events before! But I prefer to be with crowds that are more dance-driven. I find the lesbian audiences are more into hip-hop and pop and that really isn’t my thing.

Yeah, the ladies at Sue Ellen’s love them some Jay-Z. So, not to bum you out, but do you ever think about what you’ll be doing when perhaps you’re not DJing anymore? Sure, all the time. I know music and sound will be in my life forever. Music truly is my dharma and I know it will evolve as it should. I do a lot of studio work that is non-dance related. I create music for TV and I would love to do some film.

Any type of film in particular? I like creating really epic, cinematic and dramatic music. I imagine I will eventually head down that road when the club thing doesn’t fulfill me anymore.

Please tell me you don’t listen to dance music when not DJing? I usually don’t listen to dance music unless I’m in work mode or the gym. I tend to listen to everything from indie pop, jazz, chillout, downtempo, mantras —and of course, country. A Southern girl is always a Southern girl.

You travel all over the world. How is it having a relationship while doing this? I believe if you are with someone who is secure enough in the relationship then there is nothing to really be feared. When I’m on the road, I’m working and even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be out playing — it’s not my style. I have enough past karma to deal with from past lives; I need to create good karma in this one.

Oooh girl, dish. [Silence.]

So let’s just end this all right now. Do women make better DJs? I don’t think it’s a better or worse [thing], I think it’s a different story. It’s like mom and dad: Neither is better or worse, they both parent differently — but love remains. I don’t think I play like a woman but I am able to tap into a feminine energy that is nurturing and natural. In the same breath, who I am is very masculine and it shows up in my music.

What makes you a great DJ? My sound is very balanced and it’s something that comes very natural to me. Does that make me a better DJ? That is a matter of opinion. I am just striving to be my best self at all times and take people someplace that they may have not gone before.

Any advice for the club DJs trying to get to where you are? Be persistent. If this is your calling, go for it. Don’t stop until you’ve reached it.

Sweet. OK, now where was that magazine ad you mentioned again?

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—  Kevin Thomas

GLBT Job Expo held at SMU

JCPenney was among the employers at the GLBT Job Expo at SMU.

The sixth annual GLBT Job Expo was held at Southern Methodist University on Wednesday, April 27.

The event is coordinated by Resource Center Dallas and sponsored by the Cox School of Business. The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce partners in the event as well.

RCD spokesman Rafael McDonnell said about 200 jobseekers attended and spoke to 25 employers.

Among the new companies at this year’s job fair were JCPenney, The TJX Companies (T.J. Maxx and Marshalls), United Way of Greater Dallas and DFW Airport.

TABC has participated since the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Among the employers, Capital One said it had quite a few positions to fill.

DFW Airport was looking for people to fill a variety of positions throughout their central administration.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has participated in the job fair looking for LGBT employees since the Rainbow Lounge raid.

DART was looking for a vice president for transportation and someone to maintain the Amber Alert signs on highways. The agency’s representative also said she had a number of DART police positions to fill.

McDonnell said surveys showed overwhelming support for the event from both jobseekers and employers. He said that a number of the applicants said that they had experienced discrimination on the job in previous positions and were specifically looking for employers who are open and accepting.

Resource Center Dallas has an ongoing workforce development program and will offer some classes later this year. To be on the contact list for these events, send an email to livingseries@rcdallas.org.

—  David Taffet

GLBT Job Expo returns to SMU on April 27

Job seekers speaking to employers at the 2010 GLBT Job Expo.

The sixth annual GLBT Job Expo will be held at Southern Methodist University on Wednesday, April 27 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Students Center, 3140 Dyer St. Free parking for attendees will be available along Bishop Boulevard.

The job expo is organized by Resource Center Dallas and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. Dallas Voice is the media sponsor. The on-campus host is the Office of Diversity at SMU’s Cox School of Business.

LGBT jobseekers will be able to meet with dozens of employers and participate in a variety of classes.

“Whether you are looking for a better job, re-entering the workforce or you are just starting your career, GLBT Job Expo provides an opportunity to meet with employers looking to hire you. We’ve brought in new employers including DFW Airport and J.C Penney to take part in this year’s event,” said Lee Taft, RCD’s associate executive director for GLBT programs and strategic partnerships.

Among the other companies that will attend are Texas Instruments, American Airlines, Raytheon and Capital One. The city of Dallas, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit are among the public agencies recruiting new employees. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is returning and looking for LGBT applicants.

“Everybody knows the economy continues to be challenging, which makes it critically important that businesses hire the best possible candidates. Even if an employer is not hiring immediately, they have the opportunity to collect jobseekers’ resumes for future hiring,” said Tony Vedda, president and CEO of the North Texas GLBT Chamber.

Everybody is welcome. You do not have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to attend.

More information on the Job Expo is available at RCDallas.org, or call (214) 528-0144.

—  David Taffet

New additions to GLBT Job Expo at SMU

The city of Dallas is the latest entry to the GLBT Job Expo that will be held at Southern Methodist University on Wednesday, April 28. Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas said Prudential, which has appeared before, may be another last minute entry.

The regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission are among the government agencies recruiting. Some newcomers to this year’s job fair are Citi, DART, MetLife, AT&T and Best Buy.

Full information about the expo is on the Resource Center’s website. Rafael posted a map for parking. Park on Bishop Boulevard, which is in light blue or in the Binkley garage, #53 on the map. Meadows is building #17.

The location of the expo is the Taubman Atrium in the Owens Arts Center of the Meadows School of the Arts. The address is 6101 Bishop Blvd. and it runs from 2-6 p.m.

Dallas Voice, Cox School of Business, Resource Center Dallas and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce are the co-sponsors.

—  David Taffet