DJ VI: The Man Behind Neon Liger
Vijay Seixas stands in the disc jockey booth made out of a Cadillac, looking down at his iPhone.
He slides his finger to unlock his screen, which carries his DJ insignia — a silver rendition of the V for Vendetta logo, with an added lowercase “i.” He checks his Facebook, checks his email and locks it back up again.
In front of him, a crowd of roughly 150 people dances, moving in waves to the 1-2-3-4 bass drum pattern.
Front and center, a young woman strips off her shirt. All that’s left is her sweaty torso, a neon green strapless bra covering her breasts as she grinds against a shirtless man behind her. She rubs herself all over — the telltale sign of a girl on ecstasy.
Seixas waits patiently for his turn on the decks. He surveys the party, jokes around with the other DJs and bartenders. Between jokes, he takes swigs of his favorite drink: vodka and club soda.
He’s not a loud man. But his party, Le Neon Liger Dance Party, is one of the loudest in Gainesville in both volume and personality.
The party, called “Neon Liger” or even just “Liger” for short, turned five on Saturday.
Some call the party a circus.
Some call it church.
It’s Sunday by the time Seixas steps up to the DJ booth.
The 26-year-old DJ Vi – as he calls himself — stands at about six feet. He’s tan, wears a tank top and has wavy, shoulder-length brown hair.
If Neon Liger is church, then DJ Vi is its pastor. His MacBook Pro is his bible and his Pioneer DJ deck is his voice. From it flows his sermon.
But underneath the hair, the fashionable clothes and the local celebrity status, the man who has Gainesville’s nightlife at the mercy of his fingertips is a self-labeled nerd from Alachua, Fla.
For the past five years, Neon Liger has been a Saturday night ritual for college students looking for a place to indulge in their vices — be it sex, drugs or alcohol.
But the place Seixas calls home is a small, two-bedroom apartment in the Bed and Breakfast district of Gainesville.
It’s easy to make assumptions about what a DJ’s place might look like. Seixas’ lair is anything but a stereotype.
The recently installed black-tile floor is spotless. The walls are freshly painted black to match.
To the left of his television is a rack of shoes that takes up almost an entire wall, filled top to bottom with various pairs. On top, the latest footwear preoccupation: black shoes. On the bottom is his collection of multi-colored Air Force Ones. He wears them all for different occasions.
“I’m not a sneaker freak,” he said. “I just like to change it up.”
To the right of his television is another set of well-organized boxes where he keeps the tools of his trade. Cables. Speakers. Fog juice.
Lights both working and broken. They’re all tucked neatly away in bins or their original packaging.
Even his entertainment choices are neatly organized. He uses computer programs to keep checklists of all the 30-plus TV shows he follows.
Then there are the guns.
In his collection: a Berretta 950 BS, a Berretta 70S, a Walther P22 and a 1979 Walther PPK/S, the last of which he bought because of its association with James Bond.
And from time to time, he’ll take the guns out and go shoot at a range near Micanopy.
“It’s great stress reliever,” he said. “It’s another release besides just music.”
Monday is Seixas’ day off.
His video game rack is filled to the brim with The Call of Duty series, the Halo series and the Gears of War series — you know, the shooting kind.
Ever since high school, video games have been something Seixas loved spending time on.
He said save files for roleplaying games like Diablo III and Skyrim have each clocked in at above 150 hours of game time.
He sits on the couch with a black XBOX 360 controller in his hand, preparing for a round of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
“I haven’t played this game in months,” he said.
He readily admits his gaming habits can get in the way of things that matter most: his music.
But even that realization doesn’t stop him from logging on and running around a digital map with an assault rifle, shooting avatars of people who may be playing from across the world.
Besides, it only takes eight minutes. Then he can get right back to work — searching through music blogs, scrolling through the latest tracks to drop at the next DJ gig.
While video games were an early hobby of his, electronic music wasn’t always the love of his life.
In his teens, he connected with mainstream hip-hop music. Then it was punk and ska.
Then, when indie rock bands that incorporated dance music — such as The Killers and The Faint — got popular, the segue to electronic dance music began.
“It was the next logical step,” he said.
As a child, he never picked up an instrument. He had no interest in it.
With the world of dance music opened up to him, he had a new path into the music world as a DJ.
The idea for Neon Liger hatched between Seixas and two other friends: Danny Sanchez and David Gonzalez. Neither one remains. Seixas is the last man standing from the original crew.
At the time, Seixas said, there was no party in Gainesville modeled after the dance parties they’d experienced in bigger cities.
So, in 2008, they started their own weekly dance party, which they named after a friend’s cat and the neon fashion craze.
For a year, it was held in an unnamed venue, more like a back room in the Gainesville pool hall Silver Q Billiards and Sports Bar.
This is where DJ Vi made his bones. This was his outlet.
But still, in his infancy as a club promoter and resident DJ, he needed guidance. Enter the man who goes by the moniker Johnny The Boy.
Johnny The Boy, who refused to give his real name, served as Seixas’ mentor. He took him under his wing, and imparted knowledge he’d gained from years working as a DJ in Gainesville and Miami.
Whenever Johnny The Boy could make it up to the small college town, they’d spend time together, working on technique and sharing tracks with each other.
In DJ Vi, Johnny The Boy found his best pupil, someone who was willing to take direction and run with it.
One of Johnny The Boy’s most important contributions to the success of DJ Vi didn’t come from a lesson on the decks.
“I cost him his job,” he said.
Tired of seeing Seixas underachieving with his DJ work, Johnny The Boy fed his pupil drinks in a concerted effort to get him to oversleep the next day.
It worked, and soon Seixas was without the financial support of his Hot Topic retail job.
He took on more DJ gigs for monetary support and put retail in the rearview. Johnny The Boy was proud.
A huge part of electronic music is “the scene.”
It’s a culture of parties. It’s sex. It’s drugs. It’s alcohol — all rolled into one.
And when that party is over, it’s onto the next one.
Though Seixas himself is an important figure in the party scene, he prefers to let others do the hard partying.
His friends call him low-key, mysterious and enigmatic.
But maybe it’s because he’s such a contrast to his environment. He doesn’t dig ecstasy. Give him a few drinks and friends and that’s his kind of night.
It’s part of why he calls Gainesville home where other DJs opt for the bigger cities like New York and Miami.
“It’s quiet and chill, but you can still have fun,” he said.
With a twist of a knob and the switch of a fader, Seixas kicks in the big drop of the new song.
Right on the cue of the downbeat, the bartenders spray carbon dioxide on the crowd both for the screeching sound and the cooling effect.
Seixas rarely dances or smiles. The only expression he gives is a nod of his head along to the beat.
Some DJs simply hit a button to swap over to the next song. Seixas can’t stop moving. His right hand is constantly on the track pad of his computer to queue up the next song.
His left hand never stops moving. He flicks a non-working fader back and forth to keep the beat. The constant flutter is reminiscent of the work of a concert pianist.
Once 1:45 a.m. rolls around, and Gainesville law requires Seixas to end the party.
William Newton, Neon Liger’s self-titled hype engineer, gets on the microphone.
“If you’re not working here or fucking someone who works here, get the fuck out.”
It’s a line he repeats every Sunday morning. It’s Liger’s benediction.
Most of the crowd leaves at once. A few stragglers linger, hoping to get a chance to talk to the crew of DJs. A bouncer with a flashlight stalks around, shouting at those who don’t belong.
The crowd floods onto the streets to merge with the other crowds of bars and clubs that have been tossed into the night.
Some will find their way home and rest their heads. Some, not content with a night ending at 2 a.m., will find their way to the next party.
Seixas remains on stage, helping other DJs pack up their gear. A group of employees sweep the plastic cups and other debris left on the floor. As their brooms move the remnants of a good time had, a froth of dirt, spilled drinks and sweat moves with it.
Seixas’ duties as an ownership partner at Spannk — the club where Neon Liger is held each Saturday night — keep him there until 3 a.m.
Some DJs like to make their way to the after parties, where some partiers will make their last ditch efforts to get laid. Seixas is different.
Most nights, the ringleader of Gainesville’s most chaotic dance party just prefers the silence and solace of sleep.