The crown jewel of the gay party circuit,
Miamis White Party, has enjoyed incredible success over
the past 14 years, allowing Care Resources (f/k/a Health Crisis
Network) to provide essential life-sustaining benefits to
thousands of HIV/AIDS clients in Dade County. What has become
a weeklong celebration of high caliber events culminates on
Sunday night each Thanksgiving weekend at the lavish Italian
Renaissance style palace, Vizcaya, where the weeks namesake
party takes place. For the eighth consecutive year, one very
special person will provide the musical back-drop for this
illustrious party, DJ David Knapp.
In 1989, David Knapp moved from Southern
California to South Florida to attend the University of Miami
Law School. The revitalization of South Beach had just begun
and the area was quickly becoming a major vacation paradise
for gay travelers. Graduating from spinning at fraternity
parties in college, David landed a gig at a club called Boomerang
which is now home to Groove Jet. He finished law school in
1992 and passed the Bar Exam, but he decided to follow his
passion for music instead of pursuing a lucrative career practicing
law. He has gone on to become, arguably, the hardest working
DJ on the circuit, racking up enough miles in the air to make
any frequent flyer jealous.
Its not every DJ who can credit
Frankie Knuckles, Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia as mentors.
Perhaps being inspired by three brilliant men with such different
musical styles is what allows David to play universally diverse,
yet popular programs. In his words, he is an "audience
DJ." "I feel like Im there for the people,"
he says. "The more successful Ive gotten, the more
I appreciate the fact that people have created my success
given it to me and I like to give it back."
While some DJs prefer to express their artistic stylings in
their own way, regardless of the crowd or audience feedback,
David closely monitors the dance floor and gives the people
what he thinks they want. More often than not, he is right
on the money.
Although Davids sets are comprised
mostly of house music, he prefers to play more vocals than
the average DJ, at the same time experimenting with different
types of music as well. "I try to embrace the cream of
each category. I play a little bit of good trance and a little
bit of hard house," he says. "I also play some of
the big circuit anthems as well." Although it is impossible
to please everyone in the room, David has a unique and rare
ability to invoke favorable responses from huge crowds of
people with wide varieties of musical tastes. It is likely
that this gift is what prompted New York promoter and entrepreneur
John Blair to not only commission David to remix Volume 1
of his NYCs Best DJs CD series, but to also refer to
David as one of the Top 3 DJs in America on the CD credits.
Blair also thanks David for his "friendship and dedication.
You read a crowd like no one else and your music takes us
places! Thank you for always having an open mind and for being
It is this accessibility that has created
a very hectic travel schedule for this 31-year-old Billboard
reporting DJ, something he would like to change down the road.
When asked where he would like to see his career in two years,
David responded, "I would like to be traveling less and
playing maybe at a couple of residencies regularly."
David has never had any trouble finding homes at the top clubs
in the U.S. In fact, it was the residency he shared with Victor
Calderone at Roxy that paved the way for his relocation to
New York. After Kremlin closed and Amnesia started experiencing
problems a few years ago, David found that he wasnt
working much in Miami, so he started flying up to New York
once a month to play at Roxy. This led to work on Sundays
at Boys Life and subsequently a twice-a-month residency
at Limelight. David was no stranger to New York though. He
had previously opened for Junior Vasquez at the legendary
Palladium and became the first non-New York-based DJ to play
the Saint-At-Large Black Party. And the ultimate residency
was just around the corner a once-a-month gig on Saturday
night at Twilo which started on November 13th. At Twilo, he
will once again be working with Junior Vasquez, but now he
will be playing the entire night on his own. "Its
exciting for me to think of playing such a long journey, playing
till noon," he says. "Im getting my mind-frame
[ready] for playing such a long set."
David is also enjoying top billing at
some of the countries biggest and best parties, not to mention
the occasional gig overseas. His resume just in the past few
months alone reads like any circuit boys ultimate travel
itinerary, including Labor Day in Austin, the Red Party in
Columbus, Black & Blue in Montreal, Hell Ball in San Francisco,
and even a couple of parties in Amsterdam and Mykonos over
the summer. He is also scheduled to play New Years Eve
at the Palace in Los Angeles and then fly to Miami for Sunday
nights Annual Blackout Party at Amnesia.
Despite his new address in Chelsea and
his weekly travel engagements, David still considers Miami
Beach home. "South Beach has a really nice quality of
life that I miss -- and the great weather, of course,"
he admits. "Miami still feels like my home because it
was for nine years. When I left Miami, I never left it for
good, contrary to a few rumors. I have such fond memories
of Miami and all the people that Ive met." Living
a life that many would envy, David may operate out of a New
York home base now, but he returns to Miami often enough to
not be missed for too long. He even played at Salvation a
couple of Saturdays recently which he said was a lot of fun,
a homecoming of sorts. He is also hopeful that the new club
openings in South Beach will "keep people stimulated
with the music," while restoring the areas former
status as a top gay destination. And of course, he will be
sharing his diverse and remarkable musical talents with thousands
of party revelers on Sunday evening at Villa Vizcaya, the
party to which David modestly attributes much of his success.
In an unprecedented move, the White Party
Committee told David last year that White Party is his until
he no longer wants it. If he ever decides to step down, he
can then choose his own successor. The Committee could not
be happier with the immense contribution David has made to
the success of the White Party. "Davids been phenomenal,
not only because hes so talented, but also because hes
so committed," says Lark Bennett, Director of Development
at Care Resources. "We are very, very pleased with Davids
work and how he has evolved as an artist. [We are also grateful
for] his commitment to AIDS and how generous he has been with
his time and his talents for all of us, but mostly on behalf
of our clients." David will be coordinating a performance
by Funky Green Dogs for the White Party, as well as a spectacular
surprise finale that is being specially choreographed for
the end of what the Committee is calling the "greatest
celebration of the century." David has also once again
remixed this years White Party CD, the fourth in a series
which also benefits Care Resources.
It is abundantly clear when speaking with
David Knapp that he has a great attitude about and true love
of life. He professes that he lives by the old adage Danny
Tenaglia taught him many years ago, "When you get lemons,
make lemonade." "Whatever youre up against,
deal with it," David advises. "Make the most of
it." He has certainly made the most of his God-given
talents, and the thousands of people who attend weekly events
with his name attached to them clearly attest to his incredible
popularity as a DJ.
Not only does David want to share his
love of music with everyone, but more importantly, he says,
"I hope to be more influential in the community and to
use my name and talents to help our causes." He echoes
this statement on the credits inside John Blairs CD.
"To all those people who love and follow me: I hope that
I may continue to influence people to make the right moves
in life! Life is Love! Do right by others, and show the world
what heart and sensitivity we have!" It is truly encouraging
to see that David has taken his own good advice by providing
such a beautiful example for the rest of us to follow.