It’s been twenty-three years since Ron Slomowicz, one of this year’s Pride DJs, arrived in Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University. In those years, the man who has come to be more recognized by the bigger-than-life character he created, DJ Ron, has changed the face of Nashville and its music scene. So news that he is relocating to Chicago spread fast.

Why after all these years has DJ Ron decided that this was the moment? After all he refused a job in New York years ago. “I’m forty-one,” said DJ Ron. “I’ve never had that big city life experience before and if I don’t do it now, I never will.”

But he’s not leaving Nashville behind. “I love Nashville, I love playing Tribe, and I love the community here. I grew up here. I mean I moved here when I was eighteen, so I’ve been here more than half my life….I’m still spinning at Play once a month, I’ll be back for Pride, and I’ll still have my holiday parties. So Nashville will always be part of my life, and I’m still part of the great group of DJs who spin at Play—DJs like Stretch and Remedy, Azera and Apollo—and it’s a real honor to be part of such a great group of DJs.”

DJ Ron’s ties to Pride in Nashville also run deep. “I started getting active here in Pride in 1994, when I started staying in Nashville over the summers during my years at Vanderbilt. I’ve been really active since around that time.” Active is an understatement. From around 1997 until about 2001, he served on the Executive Board of the Pride committee. “We did an exchange with San Diego. We went to San Diego Pride and learned how to do a bigger festival in Nashville. As part of that I also got to play San Diego Pride for three years in a row!”

Some of his earliest Nashville Pride memories relate to the legendary Bianca Paige. “You never knew what was going to come out of her mouth, and she didn’t care. One of the drag queens one year demanded chocolate covered strawberries or she wouldn’t perform. It was such a diva thing to do. And Bianca Paige went on stage and that was like the punchline of every joke she told that night—chocolate covered strawberries.”

“One more recent thing that really sticks out in my mind—this was probably three years ago—was when Nikki Williams had just had her hit single “Glowing”—that was like Top 40—it did really well. Her manager called and said, ‘Hey, Nikki’s in town, can you put her on stage anywhere?’ So out of nowhere, I’m on stage DJing and I said, ‘Everybody, I’ve got a special treat for you all. Here’s Nikki Williams!’ And she came on stage and surprised everyone. That was an amazing moment….”

“Another time that really stands out was when we had Kerli here. We had kids driving from four or five hours away to come see her. It was a two hour line to get to her for an autograph afterwards, and she was there the entire time in the hot sun showing so much love to all her fans. I just learned from that….”

DJ Ron may be in Chicago now, but Pride is something he won’t miss. “Nashville Pride will always be in my blood. I grew up in Nashville and it’s something I believe in. One of the first things I did when I decided to move to Chicago was to buy tickets to Nashville for Pride. No matter what kind of gig I get booked for, I am in town for Nashville Pride.”

It’s clear that Nashville will always hold a central place for DJ Ron. Reflecting on his years in Nashville, he said that if he could only have one Nashville legacy, he would have it be for his role in “bringing gay onto the radio and giving us a voice on the airwaves. I was on WRVU for twenty years—1992 to 2012—doing gay and lesbian radio. I don’t want to call myself a trailblazer but gay radio wasn’t being done in the early 90s. So much stuff was covered over those years, the fight to overturn sodomy laws … and just

fighting for visibility, fighting for the right to walk down the street for a gay pride parade. We talked about so many things, ON THE AIR, at a conservative college in the South!”

“One of my biggest honors, though,” he added, “was that I’m the first DJ to ever when Best Club DJ in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville awards five times. To know that Nashville supported me that much over the years... I’m so humbled by, and grateful for, all the support that I’ve received. I couldn’t live my dreams the way I do without Nashville behind me.”

 

 

 

photo via Nashville Scene

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