This Hungarian Hottie spins the biggest clubs and parties all over the world these days, but New York is where he got his start and where he still calls home. Watch him drop the beats for the Foreplay foam party at the Monster this weekend, and read now about he came to our fair city for a boy… and found a Calling in the process. It’s Nandi Szentirmai, aka DJ Nandi!
Thotyssey: Hey Mr. DJ, thanks for chatting tonight! How’s it going?
DJ Nandi: So far so good, I’m in Hungary now visiting my family, getting some rest and a quick a break from New York gay nightlife! I’m headed back to New York on Thursday, because a long weekend is waiting for me there.
How is Hungary treating you?
It’s treating me very well, with a great food! I’ve probably gained a few pounds in one week, haha! But I’m only here to see my family, and to have a nice relaxing time with them.
Sounds lovely! Is that where you were born?
Yes, I was born and raised here.
Wow, what was it like growing up there for you?
Basically I had a straight lifestyle here. Nobody knew that I was gay. I even played soccer for 10 years. People in Hungary were not that open-minded like in New York.
Was music always a part of your life?
I never played on any instruments, but I loved music as a child. I used to listen to a lot of 70’s and 80’s songs with my mom; her favorite was Donna Summer. Probably that’s why I love playing disco music and lots of throwbacks songs whenever I can. Those classics never get too old.
Did you come to New York and the States to be free with exploring sexuality and music?
Actually I moved here for a guy, haha! That was the romantic part of the story. Plus, the USA is the land of opportunities. I didn’t really know what would happen to me here – I didn’t have a solid plan – but I felt I just had to do it. So I left everything behind, took the chance, and came here. Back in those days I had no idea I would become a DJ in New York one day!
Aw, but it was all for a boy! That’s a great story.
You do stupid things when you are young and in love. Even though we broke up after three years, I fell in love with New York… so I decided to stay here. I never regretted coming here.
Tell us how you started DJing!
My good friend Kerry Poynter started to make electronic music podcasts, and I loved how one song was following the other without any interruption. I didn’t know that it was called “transition!” I asked him to show me how he does it, because I wanted to make my mixtapes too. After I learned it and started making mixes, I played them at friends’ house parties and gatherings, and they loved it. So whenever I was at a party, they always wanted me to play my mixes.
One day a friend of mine, Felix, called me and asked if I wanted to DJ at this bar called Fusion in Hell’s Kitchen. The owner was looking for promoters who could open a new party on Fridays, and my friend thought we could pull it off. And I said, “Yes, why not?” It was around six years ago.
What are you into playing these days?
I like to play different styles – from deep house through circuit to even pop music – so it never gets boring for me. I’m trying to be versatile in my music, so I listen to various music podcasts to get the latest tracks. Probably that’s why I got to play in different-themed parties with different music styles. I always tell the promoters, “Just name the style what you want to hear and I play that, it’s up to you!” By now we’ve gotten to the point where they don’t even ask if I can play this or that, they already know… that’s why they keep hiring me.
My absolute favorite is house music, especially tech house. Unfortunately I can’t play that music style in New York as much as I would like to. Even though it’s on high demand in Europe’s most famous night clubs – from Ministry of Sound to Ibiza’s top clubs – most of the gay promoters/owners in NYC want either pop or circuit, and don’t really give a chance to tech house.
What have been some of your favorite DJing moments over the years?
I’m lucky that I had the chance to play in some big venues and parties. I have had many unforgettable moments, so it’s difficult to pick a few. Probably the first big party I did was Jonathan Lewis’ 10 Dollar Disco at Cielo. It was a legendary venue, with huge DJs who had played there before me.
Then, I was very excited when Alan Picus gave me the chance to play at the very popular Penthaus in Copacabana, sharing the night with my absolute favorite NYC DJ, Johnny Dynell. I became the resident DJ for Penthaus after that party. That was the same year when Alan and John Blair made me the new resident DJ at VIVA for the third floor.
A year after, I played on the Israeli float at New York Pride which was just simply amazing. Then last year, I started to work with Daniel Nardicio’s infamous underwear parties at Slake and Ice Palace. And this year, I got the opportunity to play in one of the biggest clubs in Guadalajara, Mexico called OPEN, and also at a luxurious venue, Mariinski in Marrakech, Morocco. Not even mentioning my debut at Sip-N-Twirl on Fire Island Pines a few weeks after. So yeah, I have a few nice memories!
In general, do you prefer the big club floors over the smaller spaces?
I prefer the big clubs. When you are playing for hundreds of people or even a thousand, and you make them dance, smile and feel happy… that gives you chills. That is the feeling you can’t describe with words!
You just feel the goosebumps.
It’s like church.
Maybe, I’m not a religious person!
Me neither! It sucks that our city has virtually no large dance venues left. Do you think that’ll ever change?
I’m not counting on it. The real estate is too high in Manhattan. There a few big venues in Brooklyn now, though.
I miss the big venues. I was in Bogota, Colombia in March, and I went to the largest gay club in Latin America with 13 different dance floors: indoor, outdoor and rooftop with a terrace. It was massive. I wish one day they would return to Manhattan. But most likely it won’t be happening anytime soon, unfortunately.
I agree, sadly. But you’re definitely making the most with the spaces we’ve got!
Remind us about your current residencies in Hell’s Kitchen!
We have created a club vibe at Rise for Saturdays, and it’s super fun to spin there. We are wall-to-wall packed every Saturday.
Posh has its own vibe, a smaller place with all the generations, and a very mixed crowd. It’s easier to pack the space, and we usually close with a full dance floor people wanting more.
At Posh I get to play anything from disco to Spanish music. I love that part! The people are very open-minded about music there.
That’s right, it’s a foam party! Have you ever DJ’ed amongst foam before? I feel like that would be perilous.
They already told me to prepare myself, whatever that means! Hopefully the foam won’t come to the booth! But I will make sure I will bring enough towels with me, just in case!
Should be exciting!
Yes, I’ve been working with Jayson Littman for a few years now. He really puts a lot of effort to gather his “hebros” together and show them a good time, and I DJ at most of his parties in the city. Probably I could be a honorary Jew by now, haha! Very nice people, and always a fun vibe at the Hebro parties.
Great! Anything else?
I just got booked literally minutes ago for Monica Blewinsky’s rooftop party at Dream Hotel Midtown on Sunday, September 10th. And I will be back to Fire Island Pines for Sip-N-Twirl summer finale weekend on Friday, September 22nd. I’m also working on some national and international gigs for the colder season now. but no specific dates and cities yet.
Okay, last question: what advice would you give to a young DJ starting a career today?
Focus on being original. Our problem in NYC is that many DJs sound exactly the same. If you want to play at big parties, you have to show your crowd and the promoters something new, something fresh. Always try to influence your dancefloor with your own style, don’t just follow the trend. Keep practicing, believe in yourself, and never give up on your dream. You never know when your breakthrough comes along.
Thank you, Nandi!
DJ Nandi spins at Posh on Thursdays (10pm) and occasional Fridays (10pm), and Rise on Saturdays (10pm). Check the Thotyssey calendar for a full list of scheduled gigs. Follow Nandi on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and HearThisAt.