Local, popular DePaul DJ David Choi has his own blend of interests that help influence how he blends beats on the dance floor.
The room was cramped and hot, despite the cold winds outside in Chicago’s January winter. LED lights lit up the room as sweaty bodies crammed in the apartment. Apartment parties are the norm at universities like DePaul and provide unique challenges for desperate college kids, hungry to dance and drink. Despite the limited space, bumping bodies, angry neighbors or even cops, this is where David Choi works best.
Choi’s music sets are first born out of his passion for anything creative. The start of this creativity began in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Born to South Korean parents, Choi’s first language is Korean. In order to learn English, find interests and be a part of a community, Choi began with curiosity. He explains he was always trying to pursue new ideas or activities around him.
“I’d been very involved with youth sports when I was younger, and that’s how I learned the importance of having a community of being part of an organization’s sports team. So, then it just put me in spaces where I could really connect with people,” Choi said.
Choi’s childhood curiosity, combined with his values of community, has allowed for his time at DePaul to be an exploration of the things he loves. This resulted in his participation in the DePaul Music Business Organization. Choi became the treasurer of the club. Emily Robinson, the president of the DePaul Music Business Organization, felt he was able to make connections with people.
“He loves people involved in the arts and why they do what they do, and I think he takes a lot from the conversations he has with those people,” said Robinson.
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His ability to relate to creative minds while balancing rational thinking helps him balance the checkbooks for the club. Choi has enjoyed his experience in the music business, but he explained that he wasn’t set on pursuing it professionally. At his core, he remained practical. He says that despite his inquisitive nature, the navigation of his life requires certain security.
“At the end of the day, you know, I still want to have this stability within myself, because that’s just, like, my natural intuition as a finance major,” Choi said.
While he isn’t set on this being a career, Choi loves connecting people to what he believes to be the international language that houses music.
“The point of me DJing isn’t so that I can throw the craziest parties, it’s to showcase people of different sides of enjoying music,” said Choi. “I realized that house music is definitely the global language of music. If you look around Europe and Asia, there’s always some kind of techno or house DJ around the world.”
What better city to share the global language of house music than Chicago, credited for helping originate house music in the early 1980s. While a lot has changed in house music since then, it continues to be a favorite for party goers. Choi hopes to continue to build his craft to keep people on the dance floor.
“Honestly, I hope it can expand, it grows, because I just love doing it,” he said. “When people tell me, ‘I’ve never heard music like this, but it got me dancing,’ it’s just, like, one of the best feelings ever, because you kind of made something secure in their memories.”
Choi certainly makes memories. He has DJed at a couple events this year, with many DePaul students knowing his name when he comes to parties to perform his sets.
Santiago Davila is a sophomore at DePaul and has been to many of Choi’s sets. He explained how each time, the crowd just gets bigger. He believes that David has something to do with the turnout.
“David’s sets are electric. The music David has played is some of my and my close friends’ favorite music to listen and dance to. His sets that I have witnessed have a great atmosphere and the way it brings one full room together to dance and have a good time is the best part about it,” said Davila.
It can be exhausting playing for a crowd of energetic, intoxicated college kids. Yet, Choi remains focused. Robinson feels this adds to his skill.
“David’s sets are super intentional and have a lot of movement that isn’t extremely repetitive,” Robinson said.
Choi explained that it is people like Davila and Robinson supporting his work, bringing him to parties and dancing along with him, that keeps his energy alive among the sea of red Solo cups and bouncing bodies.
“People dancing kept me going. People being appreciative keep me going, and this is why I keep going. I want to keep growing that vision further and achieve my dreams that I have that are still waiting on the DJ Bucket List,” said Choi.
Choi, ever the rationalist, has what he endearingly calls a “DJ Bucket List.”
“I want to perform at least 25 times, doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter what, as long as I’m on the deck for 25 times, you know, that’s a good start,” said Choi.
In his craft, consistency is key. Over the summer of 2022, his dedication to hone this skill kept him busy on the board for hours. If he could get to perform 25 times, he thinks it could help him cross off the ultimate goal on his bucket list.
“I want to travel around the world,” said Choi. “I want to be at these underground raves, I want to be at these clubs in Europe, and like, Asia and like, participate in that movement.”
People bounce and sway to the beats Choi is playing. The set is going well. The bright blue lights shine on Choi while he pumps his arms to the beat, while keeping a steady hand on his controller. He ditched his sweatshirt but opted to keep his dark shades on . Davila is exactly right, the energy is electric.
“I haven’t known David for very long, but at each set I have been to, the crowd has been bigger every time. The most recent one I went to was dancing to his set all night,” said Davila.
Choi explained that part of being a DJ is knowing how to combine different songs, with different rhythms and beats, all to mix into one beautiful, dynamic song. Choi leads his life much like he leads his sets. He navigates his life with the goal of stability, pursuing finance. He balances this out with creativity by being the treasurer of The DePaul Music Business Organization. He finds creativity through fashion; his Instagram shows him searching through clothing racks and showing off stylish fits featuring puffer vests and graphic tees. He dabbles in filmography and loves concerts.
Choi’s smile on deck is as big as the next beat drop he lays down. The people in the crowd cheer and bop along with David’s curated set. He is almost finished, ready to join the crowd. He has never lost his sense for community. He has found one that appreciates his culmination of interests. It seems that no matter what Choi pursues, he brings passion that makes anything he touches a balance of everything he loves. Choi stands behind the DJ table, hands on his controller, takes a deep breath, and transitions to the next song.
Header Illustration by Dayna Teemer