Don't sleep: That's the best advice DJ Y-Not has for anyone who mistakenly believes nothing good ever happens in Orlando. Early in his DJ career, the sought-after Miami DJ – whose recent gigs include opening for legends like DJ Premier and spinning at NBA star Dwyane Wade's birthday party by personal request – released the first in a series of mixtapes dubbed "Lazy Afternoon." It caught the ears of vinyl junkies and DJs Danny Venegas and Jonathan Santino, who'd seen Y-Not at his regular Bar-BQ-Bar stint and formed a friendship with the DJ. Noting a void in Orlando's music scene, the three decided to flip the mix concept to make a night of it, flying in different guest DJs for eight weeks straight to launch Lazy Afternoon Sundays, a brainy dance party for vibe-seeking aficionados that's been going strong for four years in Orlando.
"You don't really go into these things thinking about longevity or any type of impact on the scene or the culture of DJ'ing, you know what I mean?" Y-Not says. "You're just doing it for fun, and then it's like, wow, four years have gone by, and these guys are still doing their thing, and it's pretty awesome."
Now Y-Not returns to help Lazy Afternoon celebrate their anniversary with a rooftop party at Aero that also features Philly veteran DJ Cosmo Baker and iconic New York DJ Tony Touch. But when Y-Not got his start, he was just a kid in Portland, Oregon, ordering a crappy self-driven set of turntables out of the back of Source magazine and delicately attempting to practice scratching like his early 2000s idols.
"They all look the same, you don't know what's what, so I ordered this starter DJ kit," Y-Not says. "It comes in the mail, and I didn't even know how to set it up, and I didn't have anyone to show me. It's me and my sister like, 'How does this work?'"
His first gig was for a frat party at Portland State University, a night he recalls as successful, although he mentions one of the rewards of a great DJ set is blacking out and mentally fading into the scene you're creating. It's being in the moment, and not in some corny club hit kind of way.
"DJ'ing is like chasing a high. You play in front of these crowds, and some nights you're playing to a few people, and sometimes you're playing to a packed club, opening for Premier, and I just don't think it'll get any better than that."
It wasn't Orlando's music culture that pushed Y-Not out of Portland, though – it was a Disney college program he joined in 2002. He and the Mouse definitely did not vibe, though, and he soon was fired and left to explore the University of Central Florida hip-hop scene at the time, where he met savvy locals like NeMo, Swamburger and BMF. His mixes traveled through hip-hop forums and tapes he distributed with his number scrawled inside. After rising in prominence, he eventually left Orlando in 2012 for better opportunities further south, and currently holds down residencies at hip Miami venues like Bardot and Wynwood bars like Wood Tavern. Meanwhile in Orlando, Venegas and Santino kept the Lazy Afternoons coming, culminating most visibly with Questlove's residency last year at the Social.
"Orlando has a lot of really good things to offer, and DJ culture, there's just so much history there that it seems like it's a small, mid-sized city where nothing's going on, and it sucks or whatever," Y-Not says. "But tons of really great DJs have gotten their start there, and I really feel that there will always be something cool happening, if you look for it."