D-Nice’s Virtual Dance Floor

When stars like Oprah and Michelle Obama packed his virtual dance floor, the popular DJ knew he’d hit on something special.

Late last month, DJ D-Nice took stock of the world around him. Most of America had just entered strict COVID-19 quarantine. Tens of millions of people in the nation’s two largest cities had drawn their curtains and locked their doors. Those still on the street were engaged in a cold frenzy of doomsday shopping in preparation for an open-ended period of isolation. Assuming you were spared the trauma of the virus’s symptoms, you were most likely navigating that Costco dystopia, or settling into your eighth Netflix series of the week, when you started to notice something popping up between the shelter-in-place orders and steadily rising infection numbers in your notifications.

“Whoa—look who just walked in!” / “This is special” / “Click this. Turn your sound on.”

If you were lucky enough to click, what unfolded was a moment of communion through music so pure that it’s already achieved a were you there? status that may define this cultural moment. For a few hours, it seemed like everybody—from your next door neighbor on up to former FLOTUS Michelle Obama—had decided to crash the live DJ set streaming to the world via D-Nice’s instagram. If you were there, you almost certainly experienced the joy of reliving better times through forgotten favorites as D stitched together a marathon set wandering through R&B, disco and old school hip-hop—but also surreal moments of dance floor telepresence, like the dancehall set of classic Buju Banton tunes he spun while Buju himself (banned from the states after a long stint in prison) logged in from his home in Jamaica, knowing that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Gen X icon Holly Robinson Pete were witnessing the very same interaction.

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