AK: Anchorage DJ Teaches Mountain View Kids to Spin
The Mountain View Boys & Girls Club is packed with kids after school. One reason they show up is the music. There’s a room filled with instruments and a digital production studio. Now an Anchorage DJ who grew up in the neighborhood is adding to the mix by sharing his craft.
“(T-Rex:) What do you want to listen to? (Girl:) Spanish songs like limbo or whatever? (T-Rex:) Okay, let’s get you some limbo then.”
That’s Ruffy Alvarez, also known as DJ T-Rex, teaching kids at the Mountain View Girls and Boys Club how to DJ. The name T-Rex, was given to him by a high school buddy, he says, and it fits.
“It kinda goes with my character because I’m very motivated and the way I think of things is like you gotta be aggressive if you really want it bad,” Alvarez said.
Growing up Alvarez wanted to be a DJ really bad. His family emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Alaska when he was 10. He says those first years adapting to the U.S. were tough. He wasn’t doing well in school and he often felt angry. But one thing made life easier: music.
“The music kinda helped me to communicate better, especially at school. When it came to music, like, it helped me release all that anger,” Alvarez said.
When he was 13, Alvarez got some equipment from the Salvation Army and started throwing dance parties in his basement. He credits his school music programs along with his family’s devotion to traditional Dominican Meringue, for helping him develop an ear for music that led to DJ’ing. He says it’s nice to be making money from doing something he enjoys. But there’s one main reason he loves to DJ.
“Me personally, what I love to do is … I love to make people dance,” Alvarez said.
Having grown up in the Mountain View neighborhood himself Alvarez says he knows the challenges that many kids at the boys and girls club face. Now he’s sharing his skills with students like Kevon Pruitt, who says he wants to be a DJ too.
“Playing different music is fun and it’s tight … it’s like a mix tape but you’re making it,” he said.
“I just want to know, who want to know how to DJ man? Where my fans there you go … I see man. I see you, two, three? Alright,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez sets up his DJ equipment and is teaching another kid who calls himself DJ-Tre how to use it.
“Right now what I’m trying to teach them is the basics. How to fade songs from the left to the right, like bring one song in and bring the other one out – so B-matching pretty much. ‘Cause you don’t want to play two different songs coming in with a second song when the other song is different, you wanna play the same beats ‘til you changing your groove in stuff,” Alvarez said.
Frank Steiner manages the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club. He says the purpose of the music program at the club is to give kids an opportunity to explore music avenues that are not available in school. And T-Rex is good fit.
“He’s exactly what I was looking for in a DJ to come in, teach the kids, inspire the kids and let the kids know that they don’t even need to pick up a musical instrument, that DJ equipment can be their musical instrument,” Steiner said.
As for Alvarez, he says he just wants the kids at the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club to have fun and maybe to discover a career possibility that they wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.
“Especially in the community that I come from, a lot of us end up selling drugs or ending up in gangs. So I want them to find an opportunity in life – either in the music or just being in the business world,” Alvarez said.
Opportunities that seem more realistic with Hollywood’s growing interest in Anchorage. He has high hopes the kids from Mountain View can add to the mix. Alvarez he says he wants to find ways to use his success to give back to his community. He will DJ a Dance at the Mountainview Boys & Girls Club on Friday, May 25th. And he’s planning to host his next event at Club Millennium on June 16th. A percentage of the proceeds from that event will benefit Boys Town and the Food Bank of Alaska.