Since almost the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic shutdowns in the U.S., D-Nice has held #ClubQuarantine dance parties for tens of thousands of people via Instagram Live.
On Saturday, May 16, he'll be doing it in front of a live crowd once again.
D-Nice (real name Derrick Jones) will perform at 7 p.m. as part of the 1/ST Preakness At Home Drive-Infield Fest at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The event, portions of which will be broadcast on NBC (WDIV, Channel 4), is a stand-in for the annual Preakness Stakes horse race, which along with other Triple Crown races was canceled in the wake of the pandemic.
D-Nice's performance will be carried on YouTube and 1stlivepresents.com, and his audience will be comprised of local first responders, who will remain in their cars and safely distanced from each other. That was enough to lure the DJ, who's admittedly "freaked out" by the pandemic, from his home in Los Angeles.
"Doing this during the pandemic for people who are actually doing the real work, to be able to get out there and play music and celebrate them, it's truly, truly an honor," D-Nice, 49 -- who was part of Boogie Down Productions during the 80s and landed his first solo deal with help from Kid Rock -- says by phone.
He freely acknowledges that, "if it had not been for doing something for first responders, I probably wouldn't leave my apartment. I don't go anywhere. I'm totally freaked out over (the pandemic). I barely walk around the neighborhood. I love the quarantine. I don't think I've left my apartment more than six times. I just sit here on my balcony and enjoy the weather."
D-Nice has certainly connected with others, however. #ClubQuarantine, which sometimes runs for hours on Saturday nights, has been an Internet hit, drawing more than 150,000 simultaneous viewers at some points and getting endorsements from Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Rihanna Janet Jackson, Angela Bassett, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Nile Rodgers and many more. Recently D-Nice -- who lived in the metro Detroit area for a time and has a daughter still in the area -- has been sharing his platform with guest performers, including members of De La Soul and, upcoming, Erykah Badu, and he's gratified by the reception to the events.
"It's insane to me," he says. "Every time I sign on I'm playing for an arena, or a stadium, and people are staying there for hours, listening to music and enjoying the chat room aspect of it. It never gets old. I'm still inspired by it."
For Saturday's performance, D-Nice -- who will also be part of the "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" at 8 p.m. that night on all major networks and social media outlets -- expects to play a section of music that's both appropriate to the situation but is also flat-out entertaining. "During my sets pre-Covid, what I played for people was what they wanted to hear, and it's not that much different now," he explains. "I play with a purpose. We're having a conversation. So whether it's old Rolling Stones records, mixing those in with some Al Green and Drake records, that's why people keep coming back to my Instagram. They love the classics but want the current as well.
"I'm just trying to be authentically me in terms of how I appreciate music. Hopefully what I do tomorrow will inspire people and give them some joy. They can blow their horns to let me know they're having a good time."
D-Nice's show follows country star Keith Urban's performance on Friday, May 15, in Nashville, also for first responders in cars. Southern rocker Travis McCready, meanwhile, is slated to perform Saturday for a paying. general admission crowd in Pineville, Mo. , a state that's opened up for live events again.
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