Fei Tang & Dani Deahl: The TVD First Date

“A lot of people can attach a song to a part of their lives—a breakup, a birthday, a goodbye… but for me, it’s not just one song, or even one instance. House and electro as a whole have shaped who I have become and directed my life choices ever since I discovered it at my first rave in high school.”

“When I was younger, I was a complete outcast with art nerd status, several turned down dates, and a journal as a best friend. I was a member of My So-Called Life just waiting to be cast. One time, I was stood up at a dance because my presence would have lowered my date’s social standing, so I called up a radio station, dogged him out on air, recorded it, and played it the next day on full blast in the school hallway.

That pretty much captured my high school experience until the day I met Damian at a long gone café up on Belmont street. I knew he was a raver, but didn’t know exactly what that meant – but I was lured in by the flyers, the colors, the clothing…oh my god, the music. I bugged him incessantly to take me to one until one day he gave in and let me raid his friend’s closet so I could fit in a little better. I remember reaching for her candy bracelets and being admonished. “Those are hers – you can’t take those.”

We wound up at an old roller rink named Route 66 and though I was admittedly terrified being thrown into the middle of a thousand people all knowing what was going on and what they were supposed to do, for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. I was addicted.

I ate up all the music I could, drank in tunes from Mazi, Green Velvet, Craig Alexander, Gene Farris—I couldn’t get enough house music. I went every weekend, I followed DJs from one party to the next. My life was Le Knight Club’s “Santa Claus,” it was Soul Central’s “Strings Of Life,” it was Moloko’s “Sing It Back.” I was always on the hunt for new music.

One time, I was at an after-hours and heard a song that spellbound me. I ran up to the booth where Paul Johnson was DJing and stared at the rotating record trying to figure out what it was. He saw me clutching a pencil and piece of paper trying to write down the title, reached behind him in his crate, and handed me a duplicate copy of Spiller’s “Groovejet.” I’ll never forget that moment.

From there I had the itch to learn to DJ. In the beginning there were no intentions of doing it professionally—I just wanted to learn and loved the music. The first record I bought was Modjo’s “Lady.” That song became so important to me as a representation of my whole life starting from my discovery of house music that I got a line from the song tattooed as a waveform on the back of my neck, “I feel loved for the first time.”

I had no idea at that time that I would go on to interview the biggest names in dance music, DJ all over the world, and…marry another DJ, all because of my lifelong love of house.

It was nearly three years ago I was booked at Chicago party Porn & Chicken by their resident DJ Fei Tang and I was estatic—not only was it was my first time playing the event, but I had been trying to DJ it for some time. Little did I know Fei had already told friends that it was his intention to date me, even though we had never met.

I noticed him immediately and when I look back on the photos of us from that night, it’s eerie how we already look like we were a couple. Shortly after that night we had our first date. It was Record Store Day and we went to Molly’s cupcakes, picked up a dozen and then headed over to legendary Gramaphone Records to dole them out and hang with the staff. Fei told me later there was a specific moment when we were both crate digging, looked up and smiled at each other, and he resolved in his head that he would marry me.

We got engaged not even a month after that, and spent the next two years planning the wedding and getting to know each other better. It was an unusual courtship—we traveled together for gigs from Las Vegas to Miami, DJed together and now, two years later, have gotten married in the same place where we had that first date. It was the first record store wedding in the history of Chicago and while we love that it was unique, we wanted to do it there just because of the meaning it held for us. We really couldn’t envision any other place.

The whole wedding was a celebration of not just us and family, but house and vinyl. From our wedding cake which was bordered with the Tech 1200 calibration dot pattern to our wedding invitations that were actual 45s to of course, the song I walked down the aisle to—Modjo’s “Lady,” we dropped breadcrumbs throughout. It didn’t matter if anyone got it, the details were there to remind us of who we were and where we came from. Every day I have a reminder—my wedding band has the waveform of Fei saying “I do” etched onto the inside.

I can’t imagine who I would be or where I would be if I hadn’t discovered house. Music and DJing gave me a place to discover myself, gain confidence, and even find the person I will spend the rest of my life with. Some people have a song they call their own, I have a genre, a culture, a soundtrack to life.”
Dani Deahl

Dani Deahl Official | Facebook | Twitter

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