Venture into the secret speakeasy at Capo Deli on Florida Avenue Northwest every second and fourth Wednesday night and you’ll find Jerome Baker III and Mathias Broohm spinning to a packed crowd as Darling Nikki, a collective project that is a certified crowd pleaser. With each DJ having more than 10 years of experience playing in D.C., they’ve curated a party that focuses on good vibes, incredible music and getting down on the dance floor with strangers who will become friends by the end of the night. One of the reasons Darling Nikki parties are such a hit with locals is because the DJs perform an open format set with a combination of genres, including songs you may not have heard since 2006 mixed with current hits. If you love to dance and sing the night away, grab your friends and head to the next Darling Nikki party and tell them District Fray sent you. In the meantime, get to know Darling Nikki’s Mathias Broohm and Jerome Baker III in their own words.
District Fray: What inspired you to join forces and create Darling Nikki?
Darling Nikki: Our shared appreciation for music, nightlife and having similar interests when it came to parties. We aim to provide a different experience with the music and vibes in a small room where everyone is a VIP.
What sets Darling Nikki apart from other parties in D.C.?
Darling Nikki stands on its own because we have the ability to play music from the last 50 years very well. We also have an immense understanding of the business of nightlife and are excited to help the brand of DN exist as a party, and more.
How do you want folks to feel after leaving one of your parties?
Intoxicated by love, music and tequila — as well as excited to re-listen to a song they Shazam’d in the party once they get in their Uber.
What is your favorite thing about being a DJ in D.C.?
Baker: D.C. is the toughest market in the country. You have to be able to play everything at an expert level and still stick out on your own.
Broohm: Like Jerome said, D.C. trains you to read a room within the blink of an eye, which pays off when you play other cities.
What is your least favorite thing about DJing in D.C.?
Baker: Clubs that only have controllers. Cringe.
Broohm: Crowds being behind on music compared to cities like London, Brooklyn, Toronto, Lagos, etc. This causes you to be limited to playing brand new sounds in a lot of places in the city. I’m thankful for the collectives that thrive while sticking to their guns.
You both have years of experience under your belt. What advice do you have for aspiring or new DJs?
Baker: Practice really does make perfect, so put those 10,000 hours in. Having genuine relationships is key to your success as well. And don’t be afraid to take chances with the music — give your sets personality.
Broohm: Practice is absolutely important. Record mixes showcasing your talent and knowledge. SoundCloud or Mixcloud is literally your DJ business card. Also, going out and supporting the functions in your city. Strike up a conversation with the DJs and hosts. Don’t go in expecting anything without a sort of relationship. That’s when you blackball yourself.
Most underrated song? Baker: “Coolie High” by Camp Lo. Broohm: “Running Back to You” by The Juan MacLean. Most overrated song? Baker: Hmmm. Broohm: Anything Bruno Mars. Preferred beverage while behind the booth? Baker: Tequila on the rocks. Broohm: Ferrari. Favorite celeb sighting at Darling Nikki? Baker: All the homies. Broohm: Bun B. Favorite day off activity? Baker: Day off? What’s that? Broohm: A long bike ride on a nice day or laying around being lazy. Best after-hours spot to grab a bite? Baker: The Diner in 2010 or any of the places in Chinatown. Broohm: Same as Jerome’s answer, especially since the Wendy’s on Florida Avenue is gone. Worst song request ever received? Baker: “Can you play some hip-hop?” while A Tribe Called Quest was playing. Broohm: “It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and you’re not playing enough Bad Bunny” while playing Alexis & Fido. Coolest gig ever played? Baker: Very first Darling Nikki party at Capo — so good. Broohm: Tie between opening for Rusko or Kaytranada at U Street Music Hall in 2014.
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