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DJ of the Year: Party Dad

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Tay McNabb, a.k.a. Party Dad, developed his award-winning DJ reputation by taking the path less traveled. In a nightlife scene populated by EDM and hip-hop club tracks, McNabb digs for the obscure bangers, pulling out cult and outsider disco and funk tunes that populate dance floors like nobody else.

"I'm a total freak about music, and I guess it's always been my nature to seek out the deeper stuff once I get bored with the hits — which, for better or worse, happens quickly," McNabb says. "I spent a lot of time as a kid digging through my dad's record collection looking for oldies I liked and checking out unfamiliar records that looked interesting, and most of my adolescence was spent obsessed with various corners of the punk/indie scene, so when I got seriously into dance music in my mid-20s, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I found the weird stuff."

He credits John Zahl, a.k.a. JAZ, for getting him deep into the oddball disco world, as well as bars like Faculty Lounge, Recovery Room, and Upper Deck that were open and amiable toward his particular alternative approach to dance music.

"I wouldn't be doing what I do if no one took a chance on me and gave me a place to do it," he says graciously. "Massive credit [also] goes to the other members of the Mystical Half Dozen DJ collective for all their support and musical comradery over the years."

As for how he's emerged as a leading figure, McNabb puts it down to years of "figuring out my craft" and honing his approach.

"It has a lot to do with patience, confidence, and playing music you truly love and are excited to share," he says of how he developed his skills. "At the same time, it's important to get to know your audience and develop an understanding of their tastes. A particular crowd might not know the specific songs I choose to play, but if I'm doing my job well, they'll be able to pick up on the vibe I'm trying to lay down, and then a conversation of sorts can begin."

As for a go-to record to win a crowd over, McNabb partially demurs.

"I've never found a particular record to be a 100-percent sure-shot for heating up a cold dancefloor. What works and doesn't depends on the situation," he hedges.

"But once a few of the true believers have started moving their feet, I lately find myself reaching for my 12-inch of 'Weekend' by Class Action to really make things explode."

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