While it takes courage to be responsible for whether dozens of strangers enjoy a party, Selena Garrison said her courage was “selective.”
It didn’t come naturally, said DJ Keene, and doesn’t always apply to other parts of her life. Garrison’s stamina, she added, is also selective when it comes to music.
“If you asked me to run a mile, I could whine, whimper and moan all the time while I do it,” she said. “But on the dance floor, I can suddenly go for hours.”
It was courage that led Garrison a decade ago to try his hand at DJing a variety of local events.
She had always been interested in music, taking piano lessons for many years as a child in Atlantic City, NJ, and joining the marching band, wind band, and jazz band while in school. secondary. Even then, Garrison said she enjoyed playing pop music for other people – although her equipment at the time was a Sony boombox. She also inherited a passion for dancing from her mother, Kathie, so it was natural to create a rhythm.
“Let’s say I remember Motown and I remember the sound of Philadelphia,” she said shyly while refusing to share her age. “I’ve been through disco and new wave and all the different genres since.”
Garrison almost launched a music career much earlier, saying she was considering studying the subject at college. But she decided not to because going into the industry seemed risky, opting instead for a degree in history and social sciences from Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
After school, Garrison said, a friend suggested they head north. The New Jersey native moved to Chesterfield in 1991 and settled there, except for one aspect of life in the Granite State.
“My biggest shock was learning to deal with the fact that you can’t just order a slice of pizza from a pizzeria,” she said. “… Once I got past that, things just got a lot easier. “
After doing various odd jobs, Garrison hooked up as a paraprofessional in a local school district, providing one-on-one assistance to students in his special education program. She then obtained a certificate in information technology from Franklin Pierce University and got a job in another area district in 2005, helping to bring technology into the classroom. She’s been there ever since, and also earned a Masters in Internet Engineering in the meantime.
“I have come to really appreciate this generation because I find them very down to earth and they don’t let other people define them,” she said of her students. “And I find that very refreshing.”
But the students were being wronged in at least one area: The music played at school balls was outdated and “a bit lame,” according to Garrison.
Believing she could do better, she started her own DJ service. The first few years were pretty lean, Garrison said, as she had to spend a large chunk of her income buying new equipment.
“I’m doing it for love, not just because I need it for income,” she said.
This means Garrison can afford to only perform at events she would like to work for, typically taking a few each month. His repertoire is nevertheless quite wide, ranging from school balls to company parties and class reunions.
Weddings are especially special, even though they require a lot of work, Garrison said. She consults the couple in advance, not only on a setlist, but also to determine the schedule for that day. Garrison, who makes sure her attire matches the theme of the wedding, said “country chic” is a popular choice.
“The stakes are really high because you are talking about the most important day of their lives,” she said. “So you want to make sure everything is absolutely correct. “
Garrison said she was very receptive to song requests, but sometimes had to steer an event in the right direction on her own. The best songs, she said, combine a catchy hook with a beat that makes people want to get up and move. For an older audience, it is “Respect” of Aretha Franklin. “SICKO MODE” by Travis Scott is aimed at a younger audience. Flo Rida’s “Low” is always a hit, Garrison said.
Tech services and DJing rarely overlap, but Garrison said both businesses require her to keep up with the latest releases and trends.
For music, that means regularly checking the latest iTunes ratings, which she says reflects a song’s popularity better than Spotify data, as people have to pay for it on iTunes. Country music is a common demand, Garrison said.
“It’s not a typical genre that I listen to, so suddenly I had to take a crash course like this,” she said.
Whether it’s working with students or spinning records, Garrison said his goal has always been to make sure people are happy.
This made the COVID-19 pandemic particularly difficult, she said, as places that would normally provide entertainment were not available. Garrison has lost concerts for about a year and has said she expects more cancellations with an upsurge in cases.
“All the outlets that you would want to have in times of extreme stress, you don’t have access to them,” she said. “Dancing, making music, going out and having a good time, all of those things that honestly make life worth living. “
The tragedy shaped Garrison’s outlook outside of the pandemic: three of his four siblings died of cancer, including, most recently, one of his brothers in February. Their deaths made her realize that life is short and should be enjoyed, she said.
By making people dance, Garrison hopes he can help.
“I am proud to do a performance,” she said. “My mission is to make people have a good time. This is the most important goal.