There's something special about the Beauty Bar come Saturday nights. Amidst the 1950s-themed decor and glittery, soft-hued color scheme, the tiny Knox-Henderson bar has two very important ingredients: Good drinks and even better music. In the case of the latter, that's all thanks to Blake Ward.
"DJs facilitate the human mating ritual, so you want people to have fun," explains Ward, the resident DJ for "Glamorama" dance night that takes place every Saturday night. "I'm fortunate to play at Beauty Bar because the crowd is really receptive to what I play. The owner Brooke [Humphries] lets me play whatever I want, the staff is the best in town and the patrons love to party."
His style is liberally contrived, free from disciplined techniques and the pressure of expectations. As Ward sees it, the art of mixing is centered around the ability to master song selection.
"85 perfect of DJing is song selection, 14 percent is if people like you, and one percent is music stuff," he says. The "music stuff" is largely improvisational thing in Ward's case. "I download a bunch of songs that I like and I play it. I don't prepare beforehand."
Ward's organic approach can be traced all the way back to the start of his DJ career. It was during his college years at the University of Oklahoma that he became acquainted with DJing and the craft of spinning.
"The first time I DJed, I was helping promote this party and the guy asked me to DJ it. I learned to DJ a few hours before the gig so nothing was planned out. But you gotta start somewhere," he says.
But Ward's spontaneous improvisation is not the type that subsumes jerky transitions and unbalanced sound manipulations. He sends crowds into an elevated trance of musical liberation. Glamoroma's wall-to-wall dancing is sprinkled with dub step vernacular, street style body rocking and high-intensity dance patterns that contribute to one single goal: Having a kick-ass time.
"There are three categories of DJs. There are DJs that like music, DJs that like to get laid and DJs that want to be famous," Ward proclaims. "I love music. DJing is something that I like to do and I like to play somewhere where I can have fun and Beauty Bar is one of few places where people actually dance."
But Ward is not your typical disc jockey. By day, he is Blake Ward, an SEO specialist for Standing Dog LLC and by night he is DJ Blake Ward, the heartbeat of the party.
"I've been in the digital marketing industry for about two years and I've been at Standing Dog for about a year and a half. I do search engine optimization as well as some social media stuff," Ward says.
Nonetheless, Ward is looking to expand his role in the music business beyond his own work as a DJ. "I am also starting my own booking agency," he says. Tentatively called Four Four Agency as in 4/4 beats, the agency will connect retailing gigs with local DJs.
"I've started working with four other local DJs including John Feezy, Remy Ryan, Colly T, and Tony Schwa," he says. "Our focus is gigs outside of the club like weddings, in-store events, corporate parties, holiday parties, et cetera. It's an area where there is a lot of demand. These guys don't have any problems with getting gigs, but connecting with retailers and individuals is a whole different ball game."
From his business to his musical artistry, Ward is a man of creative versatility. In addition to his reoccurring residency at Beauty Bar on Saturday nights, he can be found alternating sets between Boxwood and Hotel ZaZa on Friday nights. His unprecedented music style is a flawless amalgamation of old and new sounds, free from limited genres and predictable compositions.
Sounds of Chicago house, nu disco, dance indie and '80s jams segues into post-funk house synths and inklings of grimy hip-hop electronics and bass-heavy house beats. "I focus on indie, dance and house but I don't stick to one thing. Some nights I want to play a bunch of 80's and some nights I want to play a bunch of Chicago house stuff," Ward says. "I just go with it."
Ward has toured throughout the United States, performing sets in New York, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Norman. His music collaborations have included international acts like DJ Shuttle to local scenes with Colly T and Chris Roze. "I also wouldn't mind collaborating with some of the better hip hop dudes in town," he adds.
For the future, Ward hopes to open his own spot and transform his party success into a full- time gig, but for now Glamorama's Saturday night hot spot is more concise.
"Playing at Beauty Bar every Saturday makes me happy," he remarks. "If you ask me, its the best spot to DJ in Dallas. I'm happy where I'm at."