Mario Torres’ hoodie covers him in darkness as he handles the steering wheel of one of The Ride’s vans. It is 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 14, and his five-hour shift has just begun. Even though Torres must be at his other job at 9 a.m. the next day, he is no stranger to staying up late.
“Your body gets used to the lack of sleep,” he said.
Torres holds a full-time job as a DJ at parties, weddings, and other events, spinning everything from house to big band to Reggaeton. While his favorite music to play is progressive house, DJ Mo will spin whatever he needs to keep the dance floor active.
“I could drop a needle on a ’50s record without blinking an eye,” Torres said.
As a young paperboy in Brooklyn, Torres used to hear neighborhood guys spinning records from his route on the street. Sometimes, he’d just stop and listen, setting the stage for his DJ career.
Despite being mostly familiar with the New York circuit—he played for crowds of over 2,000 people in his heyday—Mario is settling into his niche here in Middletown. He owns an event-planning company and DJ service called Poweredby2DJs.com, and this past week, he DJed at a benefit for a PSafe officer.
“When I see everyone moving on the dance floor, I’m alive.” Torres said.
Although working parties can bring in hundreds of dollars a night, Torres still finds being a Ride driver worthwhile.
“I’m helping people out,” he said. “That’s my reward.”
On this particular Sunday, there’s not too much action on the roads. More students are stressing over textbooks in SciLi than wandering down Fountain. With this view of campus life, it’s fitting that a Sunday night driver would describe Wesleyan students as “smart” and “diligent.”
The drivers spend about 10 minutes between each shift debriefing each other about what’s happening on campus: Where are the parties? What are the events? Where are the pick-ups? They are in constant communication.
At one point, a voice comes over Torres’ intercom:
“Mario, what’s your location?”
“HiRise, LoRise, headed up now.”
Over the intercom, he responds quickly, clear-cut, like a police officer. Some of the drivers are more talkative, but Mario prefers to relax and listen.
“It’s amazing some of the stuff you’ll hear, like Suzie likes Rick or so and so,” he said, laughing.
In addition to the inter-driver intercom system, Ride drivers have the blirp-it equipment at their disposal. Blirp-it helps facilitate communication between Ride drivers and students. By accessing wes.blirpit.com, students can track exactly where The Ride is at any point in the evening.
Torres sees this “day job” as a pleasant break from the more hectic side of his life. As a DJ, he must stay current on trends in music. He receives new tracks emailed to him before they are even released. He talks with other DJs in New York, Las Vegas, and even Canada about what’s big in music right now.
“I tell my 21-year-old son what’s hot,” he said matter-of-factly.
Torres also must keep up with the newest technology in the trade. This weekend, he’s heading down to the city to take a class in Live 9, a new music production software. His girlfriend, Danielle, who works in the mail room at Usdan, bought him a new piece of equipment that he’s still figuring out. At 41, he’s still honing his craft.