Local DJ Emily Coalson on The Best Kind of Parties to Play and Her Favorite Disco Tunes

As a former radio host for TV Dinner on FCC Free Radio, DJ Emily Coalson knows how to keep the beats flowing for those that enjoy dancing like no one’s watching. Crediting local DJ Sergio Fedasz with inspiring her transition from radio to party DJ, she landed her very first gig at his monthly disco party GO Bang! “He was my musical guide and taught me how to mix with CDJs on my radio show at FCC Free, and on his radio show at KALX… I never had the tool set to create a live mix until Sergio and I started playing together,” she says.

A little more than three years later, she’s putting her radio and record knowledge to good use, and you can find her behind the decks at neighborhood venues like Madrone playing her style of electro-funk disco or The Knockout with her Galaxy Radio crew. We spoke with Emily about her favorite disco jams, Galaxy Radio, and her SF hotspots. She plays Go Bang!’s 6th anniversary this Saturday, Dec. 6, at The Stud with Robin Malone Simmons and the Go Bang! residents.

[jump] What was your first gig and what was your mindset going into it?
My first club debut was actually for Go Boo! back in Halloween of 2011. I was very nervous because I had a big group of friends that showed up in costumes and it was the first time any of them heard me mix live. I remember being dressed as a fluffy white unicorn, which actually made for some great photos behind the booth. It was a very special memory because Halloween has always been my favorite time of year.

You're part of the Italo/space disco Galaxy Radio crew. Tell us about how that came about.
When I first started out, I had my own house-disco happy hour at the Showdown and I would occasionally play some gigs here and there with Sergio. But I wanted the experience of constructing a different party where I could have more control, instead of guesting. Sean, Casey, Alex, and I talked for a few months about creating a fun Italo-disco, space-dance experience because there aren't many Italo-disco parties, and we all loved the music. We originally started playing at Underground SF when Johan and Holly joined in with the crew. After about a year we transitioned over to The Knockout where Daniel joined in on the fun as well. We wanted to create a laid back party vibe of friends who played records together and shared the decks, all while highlighting special monthly guests. Guests have told us they love playing Galaxy because they get to play all the fun tracks that they don't regularly get to showcase. It's a unique party for sure.

What's your favorite type of party to play?
The best parties always start with having great energy on the dance floor. I have found that the amount of people in the venue doesn't matter to me so much. I would prefer to play to people who really own the dance floor, enjoy what I'm playing, and actually come up to talk to me. The more creative freedom I have the better I play. I enjoy playing undergrounds and happy hours a lot because I can play more genres and I'm a fan of music of all varieties. But I really love the community aspect of parties like High Fantasy, Galaxy, and Go Bang! because of the loyal dancers.

Since you're a disco DJ/expert, who is your favorite disco artist?
I love how versatile Gino Soccio tracks are. You can play them for disco, house, Italo-disco parties and the songs always get people going. My favorite track is “It's Alright.” 
When you're not DJing, where can we find you hanging out in San Francisco?
Variety is the spice of life! I am a very active person and have a wide range of interests that keep me busy. I really enjoy being entertained first and foremost, whether by seeing other DJs, comedy shows, concerts, drag shows etc. I dabble in improv at Endgames. I do barre classes. I love to cook, dance, and am a huge movie goer. My friends and I put on murder mystery dinner parties. I enjoy taking long city walks and finding a random dive bar. I recently visited the Silver Spur in the Sunset while I was exploring out there and was very pleasantly surprised. And the weekend isn't complete until I get a run in through Golden Gate Park.

What are you most excited about when you'll play Go Bang!'s 6th anniversary this weekend?
Coming back to my roots. I started out at Go Bang! so anytime I'm asked to play it's very nostalgic for me. It really feels like a big family. There will be people I haven't seen in months and as soon as we see each other, we hug and it feels like no time has passed. It's nice to have a community like that where anyone can come and truly be themselves. It's nothing but love, that party. I am just excited to be back in the middle of that energy and making people happy with the songs that I play. I love it when dancers connect to what I'm throwing out there.

With all these different types of parties you play, which record can show up and work at almost every one of your gigs?
My favorite track to play is hands down “Slang Teacher” by Wide Boy Awake. It has such a unique sound and is definitely a staple. I enjoy that it's universally loved. People move to that jam!

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