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DJ Purple Brings His Dance Karaoke To JJ’s

In Clubs
Dance dance karaoke: Steve Hays, a.k.a. DJ Purple, puts on a different kind of karaoke show.

Dance dance karaoke: Steve Hays, a.k.a. DJ Purple, puts on a different kind of karaoke show.

For more than a decade, Steve Hays has been spinning records at bars and clubs from the peninsula up to San Francisco. The Redwood City man now hosts regular nights at The Patio in Palo Alto and Slate in San Francisco, and says his gigs are only getting better. Hays recalls one particularly good night when his show drew 700 people—many of whom came specifically for him—to the Z Space gallery in San Francisco.

That would be a good show for any up-and-coming local EDM producer. But for a karaoke DJ? Well, that’s something else altogether.

Hays, who goes by DJ Purple and calls himself a “dance karaoke” DJ, credits his popularity with his carefully curated playlist and his philosophy that people who come to his show should feel like they are a rock star for the night.

“I want to show people around the world what’s possible with karaoke,” Hays says. And so far, he has been successful. He says that people come to his shows from all over the Bay Area and tell him: “We don’t have anything like this where we come from.”

A DJ Purple dance karaoke set aspires to be a high-energy rock show where anyone can be a star, at least for a song. “People who are already good karaoke singers come and the music and the lights and the show is up to their level of talent,” he tells me.

And the audience isn’t just standing around looking at their phones, waiting for their turn to sing. That’s where the “dance” part comes in. “No slow songs” is the DJ Purple motto. He’s combed through his songbook, cutting out those songs that might be popular, but are sure to bleed a crowded dance floor.

Someone might want to sing some Buffalo Springfield, but right after “Get Low?” Not gonna happen. Hays, who started out in a rock band before making the transition to a karaoke DJ, keeps the energy going with live instruments as well—busting out his signature saxophone for those long instrumental sections when everyone might otherwise be staring at their shoes.

DJ Purple, who has been booking shows in San Jose recently, will be appearing at JJ’s Blues this Saturday.

Hays has bigger ambitions than just conquering San Jose, however. “I would like to somehow see this become more of a phenomenon in society,” he says. “I’d like to see the kind of experience I’m creating becoming accessible to people everywhere. They could go down to their local bar and have this awesome musical experience.”

The hard part, though, is a DJ Purple show might just have to been seen to be understood. “My show appeals more to people who aren’t into karaoke,” Hays says. After the show audience members will come up to him and say, “I really hate karaoke, but I really like what you’re doing.”

DJ Purple brings his dance karaoke set to JJ’s Blues in San Jose on Friday, Dec. 19. More info.

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