D.C.’s DJ and air guitar titles are up for grabs

U.S. Air Guitar Championships
Playing air guitar is serious business: D.C. champion Lance “The Shred” Kasten broke his ankle while leaping off the 9:30 Club's speakers during the 2008 qualifier. (2008 photo courtesy of U.S. Air Guitar)

Some serious bragging rights are at stake this weekend.

On Friday, Washington's top DJ will be crowned at the annual DMC Regional DJ Battle at U Street Music Hall, with the winner moving on to the national finals in New York City. The following night, the area's top air guitarists will face off at Solly's in the D.C. qualifier for the U.S. Air Guitar Championships, shredding to win a place in the Mid-Atlantic Semifinals at the 9:30 Club in July, and then the finals in Los Angeles this fall.

If you think you could take one of those titles, it's still possible to sign up for both competitions.

The DMC Battle, now in its 30th year, is one of the most prestigious contests for DJs, though it focuses on scratching and mixer flair techniques more than simply rocking a crowd. DJs have to prepare a two-minute routine for the preliminary round, and the top six DJs move on to spin a six-minute set.

You can sign up through Thursday by e-mailing DMC. All the info is on U Street Music Hall's website. If you'd rather just watch, the 18-and-over event starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door.

For an idea of what's expected, here's DJ Precision's winning set from last year's New York City regionals.

The U.S. Air Guitar format is pretty simple: Every performer gets 60 seconds to shred to a song of their choice. (Any 60 seconds of the song can be used.) The top five air guitarists move on to the next round, where they all shred to the same tune, which is picked by contest organizers. The more theatrical the performance the better – New York's Matthew “Aristotle” Burns took first place with a routine to "Master of Puppets" that wasn't entirely realistic, but it definitely was full of "airness." Playing air guitar is serious business: D.C. champion Lance “The Shred” Kasten broke his ankle while leaping off the 9:30 Club's speakers during the 2008 qualifier.

Contestants entering the qualifiers sign up in advance, pay $10 and show up at Solly's at 6:15. The show starts at 7 and is free for spectators, with specials on DC Brau and Flying Dog beers.

Gbenga Ajilore is an economics professor at the University of Toledo, who research centers on public finance and sports economics.
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