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Gatekeepers #2: Deep House DJ John Ceglia

It’s time to Dance Your Art off this Friday (April 1) at the Town Ballroom. This Give For Greatness event is a benefit for Buffalo’s cultural institutions. Mixmasters John Ceglia and DJ Cutler will be spinning a non-stop mix of deep house and mashed up old skool beats in a spectacular, artistly concieved environment of simulated fire, LED lighs, and flowing fabrics. AV caught up with Ceglia to discuss his musical marriage of disco, funk and deep house.

How did you get into DJing?

Ceglia: I started DJing in 1978. I played Buffalo for two years and then went to New York City where I saw some of the top DJs in the world. It really inspired me because I saw all of the energy they were able to create. The clubs were huge, the crowds were huge, the music was progressive and I loved all of that. I played at Studio 54, the Underground, the River Club, and Fire Island. Fire Island was one of the birthplaces of club culture. It was the first place where an extended remix was played. Having the opportunity to play there on a regular basis was really an honor and a lot of fun. I still play there every summer.

Can you talk about the music you like to spin?

I’ve been doing this for a long time so I like to play all kinds of music. A lot of people in Buffalo associate me with playing older music because I played at the very first World’s Largest Disco in 1979, and other shows like that, but when I travel I play newer music. I’ve played in Miami and I recently played at the Bellagio in Vegas where I did some high-energy electronic stuff and some groovy, soulful deep house music, which I really like. I got a call from Tony Billoni to do this Dance Your Art Off event and he said he wanted to do some cutting edge stuff in Buffalo. I was thrilled.

What do you like about deep house music?

I like the energy loop that’s created between the DJ and the crowd. You feed them, they feed back to you and it’s just a wonderful continuous loop. I also enjoy creating new music with existing music; taking pieces of songs and putting them on top of each other to create something completely different—a different rhythm, a different melody—and the crowd really responds to that. One of the reasons I like deep house is because a lot of it reminds me of the old disco stuff. It’s like an extension. It’s where the music we danced to back then has evolved to.

How does it feel to be involved in this give for greatness event?

It feel honored that I can help out and do something fun here. When I went to New York my wife Darleen came with me to dance professionally. The arts are important to us. We have two dance studios and we’ve been running them for 19 years. We’re bringing up aspiring dancers, so we’ve been involved in that side of the performing arts community in Buffalo for a long time. It’s a vital part of our community. There is a domino effect, if we didn’t have theaters, if we didn’t have these companies it would be devastating for the restaurants and bars and to our community. It’s really important for all of us to have this opportunity to pitch in and keep one of the best parts of Western New York alive and well.

—cory perla

Friday (April 1) 9pm. Town Ballroom, 681 Main St. (852-3900/ Donations $15.00 advance, $20.00 day of show.