Meet Santa Barbara's Resident DJ: Darla Bea
DJ Darla Bea at the Arlington Theatre (Photo: Fritz Olenberger)
By Christina Muoio
Meet Darla Bea, Santa Barbara’s resident DJ, who is inviting the community to celebrate her birthday at the Goodland Hotel for a free party on Monday.
With a penchant for brightly colored wigs and serving up the best of old school jams, Bea can almost certainly be found behind the DJ booth of most local parties. Get to know the woman behind the turn tables.
As a Santa Barbara native, Bea got her start at UC Santa Barbara’s radio station KCSB-FM 91.9, a community radio that broadcasts from Storke Tower. Though she was initially a programmer for the radio station, Bea wanted to try her hand at being “a hostess of the airwaves,” as she put it.
According to Bea, she was training for months at ungodly hours in the middle of the night before she got her own FM 2 hour show. A listener and venue owner gave her a chance to DJ once a month at a club and from there, her career snowballed. Since then, she has DJ’d on air, in public, at community events, and for private events such as weddings, corporate functions, hotels, and more.
Now, she will be hosting her 40th birthday party at the Goodland Hotel on Monday, September 2nd, from 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public and will feature a performance from drag queen Vivian Storm and belly dancing from Beth Amine.
Bea is known for the fun wigs she wears while she performs. “I’ve always had a penchant for dressing up in costumes,” she said. Her wig-wearing habit started during her first year of DJ’ing disco and 80’s themed parties. “I thought the wigs would show my fun personality without having to say much and it evoked the genre being played.”
Now, Bea says she has to wear a wig to a gig or else she won’t get recognized. Sometimes, however, couples request she don a wig during the dancing portion of their wedding or after-party to match the decor. “My favorites are - my Unicorn Wig, actual Bee covered Bee-hive and my gold/silver tinsel wigs that are over the top metallic,” Bea said.
Bea has done several local events in Santa Barbara. She has residencies at local hotels, like the Goodland Hotel, where she is a poolside DJ. She has also worked with a variety of non-profit organizations over the past years including the Pacific Pride Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.
For the past five years, Bea has DJ’d the opening and closing night of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. She has also DJ’d an opening set for Anthony Bourdain, Run DMC, Egyptian Lover, The English Beat, and Poolside. “You name it, I’m there,” she said.
As a veteran local DJ for over 10 years, Bea says it takes much more than just playing music. DJ’s are in charge of setting up sound equipment, being an Emcee, transitioning music from high energy to romantic slower paced tracks, taking requests, talking with guests and patrons, putting together playlist folders in advance, handing out glowsticks, entertaining children & adults, and in her case, wear a costume and wig to fit the theme.
On top of that, a DJ faces late nights, long shifts, heavy equipment lifting, stiff competitions, client pressuer, and the frequently inebriated patron. However, Bea says the reward makes all the behind the scenes worth it.
Watching people have the time of their lives is also an important reward. “Truly it is an honor to be a guest at people's most intimate moments - whether it be a wedding, birthday party, coming out party, baby shower or business grand opening. I feel like I can facilitate real memories through music for these people and that feeling is priceless. Sometimes I get goosebumps watching the magic happen on the dancefloor. And I do like receiving a couple of fist bumps and encores at the end of the night,” she said.
Join DJ Darla Bea at her 40th Birthday Pool Party Bash on Monday, September 2nd from 12pm to 5pm. The theme is "Swim with Mermaids / Ride a Unicorn" with free admission and a family friendly atmosphere. Learn more here.
Christina is a writer for edhat and wants to wish Darla a very happy birthday!