DJ’s Dual Roles Shake Up ChicagoLand
Chicago—It was on February 7, 1998, after his bar mitzvah party, when Ryan Levin knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“I wanted to be a mitzvah dancer,” he says. “And I approached the owner of the DJ company at my party, and he told me to contact him when I was in high school.”
Flash forward to 2000. When Levin contacted the owner to tell him he was available to dance, the owner invited him to a tryout.
“I went there to see 40 others trying for the same job,” he says. “They were older, better looking, and better dancers then I was. I said to the guy that I’d give DJing a try, so he put me on the schedule as a DJ assistant, carrying the equipment inside and out before and after the party.”
At these weekend events, Levin would watch the DJs and wish it were his turn. Less than a year later, his wish came true. “One of the company’s MCs got upset with his DJ and let him go,” he recalls, “and hired me to be his DJ. He took me under his wing, gave me his music case, and told me to memorize it.”
One year later, this MC quit the company and started his own business. Levin, then 17, joined him. “I quit a very established company to be with a guy who took a big chance with me,” he says.
In 2006, this MC took Levin on a road trip for a wedding—the first time Levin grabbed the mic and became an MC. “I introduced the bridal party,” he says, “and I nailed it. I looked cool, calm, and collected. It was this moment when I knew entertaining was my life’s calling.
“So I guess the real reason why I became a DJ is because I was afraid of the dancing competition and I thought it would be the easier way to keep busy and have steady work. But behind the DJ booth I practiced my dancing, learned new moves, gained some rhythm, and gained the confidence I needed to become the entertainer I am today.”
The entertainer he is today is the sole proprietor of Chicago-based 4Sure Entertainment—a company he originally started while in college, as part of a project, with the idea of DJing at bars and clubs while still doing private parties for his employer.
One Thursday night, while Levin was DJing at a bowling alley, the manager approached him and asked if he could do a Bat Mitzvah.
“I knew I was trained by the best, so of course my answer was yes! He told me his budget was only $1,800.”
Levin called his boss and told him about the event; his boss suggested Levin take the party on his own. “I didn’t ‘know’ it was time to be on my own, but I knew since he gave me the OK, I was going to run with it. I did find out later, the bowling alley charged more than the $1,800, but it didn’t bother me. This was the most money I ever made in a short time period, and the coolest part about me starting the company during school, was that my teacher left the teaching field and became my accountant.”
And what separates Levin from the competition?