These days, if you catch a DJ set by Juana at a secret warehouse rave or subterranean nightclub party, you’re likely to be inundated by techno, that pulsating and pneumatic attack girded by nonstop industrial grooves and synthesizer squelches. But it wasn’t always that way for the Chicago-born, D.C.-based selector.
When Juana first started DJing at the turn of the millennium, she favored disco and funk, the dance floor descendants of the soul and experimental jazz that she grew up listening to. She eventually discovered techno — and its country-cousin, house music — through her college friends. “I was always attracted to weirdos,” she jokes. “I just hung out with cool people with great record collections, or parents who had great record collections.”
When she moved to D.C. in 2003, she dove headfirst into the dance music scene at such gone-but-not-forgotten clubs as Red and D.C. Sanctuary, drawn in by the West African-inspired house music of the early 2000s. But techno would soon become part of her life again. “As I was going through things, it’s what was there to catch me,” she explains.
“It’s like rediscovering an old friend,” she says. “You find that your paths intersect again in a way that might surprise you. You pick up where you left off or spark a new facet in your relationship.”
That relationship has blossomed in the past few years. Juana connected with D.C. techno crew Sequence and became a member of Discwoman, a collective for female-identified DJs that has helped reshape the dance-music landscape. Both Sequence and Discwoman draw diverse, adventurous audiences who let Juana explore the music she loves, from techno and beyond.
“A really good set is one where I feel encouraged enough and emboldened enough to do something weird,” she laughs.
Show: Jan. 31 at 10:30 p.m. U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. Free.