Dixie’s Dam Bar resident DJ Dynamixx (a.k.a. Donovan Santos, 35) has opened for everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire and Run DMC to the Planet Hollywood resort itself. But before that, the 19-year Las Vegas resident who grew up in Washington, D.C., performed as a professional BMX freestyler even while holding down residencies at C2K, Studio 54 and Foundation Room. Vegas Seven sat down with Dynamixx to discuss the dynamics of mixing his two worlds.
When you got into freestyle BMX, it wasn’t yet popular on the East Coast. What sparked your interest while you were growing up?
I saw the movie Rad in 1986, which was all West Coast riders, and that was it. I told my dad I wanted a $300 bicycle, he was like, “Yeah, you’re paying half of that.” All I did that summer was baby-sit and cut grass. It taught me a lesson: You appreciate what you have to buy. Because I stuck with [BMXing], I made a living off it for a good 10-15 years.
How did you get to pro level at 17?
Got on a bike, got bruises, broken bones, stitches and surgeries. It’s dedication and practice. There’s only a few guys with true talent, some talent is just devotion to the sport. My dad retired to Vegas and I was picked up by [BMX team] GT. It was cool because they were the first team I ever saw. … I was riding with the guys I saw at 14.
What were some of the awesome perks of being a freestyle pro?
Getting paid to ride a bike! I’ve been all over the world. … European tours, tours through big cities, tours where we packed the truck with the ramps and gear and traveled coast to coast. I toured San Antonio and Orlando for Sea World for two years. Seven days a week, four shows a day—I was getting beat up. Best shape of my life, though.
Rumor has it you were in a commercial with the one and only Carrot Top?
Yes! [Laughs.] It was an AT&T commercial in 2000. I actually saw him recently and was like, “Hey man, I know you don’t remember me, but …” I was the principal rider; I was directly behind him doing a bunch of flat land spinning stuff, which is my specialty. I also did the regional Magic Mountain commercials.
So how did DJing come into play?
I was always interested in it. I was blown away by the scratching in “The Show” by Doug E. Fresh. I was with a team called the Ridin’ Rebels; we started making videos and I said I’d do the music. I was doing a BMX show at the Riviera; every week I was buying a turntable, a mixer, records or speakers. I was in Record City every week, buying hundreds of dollars worth of used vinyl. Biking basically paid for my DJing.
What do you spin at Dixie’s?
Dixie’s Dam Bar is Top 40, but my favorite to spin is freestyle—Stevie B, Expose, Debbie Deb. I never play the same set [twice]; I do that for the integrity of the club, and my own sanity. A DJ’s job is to read the crowd, and cater to that. You can’t go wrong with hits. I like stuff you hear and go, “I remember that song.” I think that’s kind of my niche, I throw out tracks you wouldn’t expect.
DJ or pro BMX rider—if you had to choose …
DJ. Injuries take too long to heal now. I get hurt now. I twisted my knee a year ago and it still hurts. If I were younger though, BMX. … DJing and BMXing are kind of similar. They’re independent; it’s all on you. You’re not relying on a team for a win; it’s all about you.