Feeling the beat

Paradise DJ Jordan McArdle is turning his musical liability into a dream come true

Photo by Tom Angel

Will DJ for cash:To reach the Reality Dreams DJ Service, you can page Jordan at 571-1843 ore-mail him at JPMCRDL@cs.com

When you walk up to the crowded club, the first thing you hear is the bass beat rattling the windows outside.

As you walk in, you see multi-colored lights and wide varieties of people dancing to the music. Up in the DJ booth, overlooking the crowd, is busy 24-year-old Jordan McArdle.

With his headphones on, McArdle cranks out 2000 watts of house, trance, and hip-hop all night for the dancers. As he mixes one song into another, he presses his headphones against his ear and strains to hear the pulse of the music. He then fades the songs into each other, setting his hand against the booth to feel the vibration of the beats. It’s fun to watch, but what most of these people don’t know is that Jordan McArdle is legally deaf.

“I have to hear and feel to be able to mix,” McArdle communicates by writing on a notepad. “The hardest thing was learning to use the mixer properly [because] the equalizer is made for normal people’s learning.”

Ever since he first became excited by the world of DJ music back in junior high school, the Paradise resident has been pursuing his dreams to DJ for bigger and better parties—all the while letting the heart-like beat of the music guide him.

He started DJing professionally about a year ago, calling his fledgling company Reality Dreams DJ.

McArdle was born in Florida, living there for about a year before moving to Paradise. At an early age, he became sick from meningitis and lost all of his hearing. His family turned to the local community for help in getting their son’s hearing back. A story ran in the Paradise Post, McArdle had his face put on buttons, and soon he received fund-raising aid from the Lions Club. They helped him raise the $30,000 needed for a cochlear implant, a little black electronic device implanted behind his right ear that helps him hear certain sounds and improve his speech.

Although briefly living other places, McArdle still calls Paradise home. The most influential of his traveling ventures was the couple of junior-high-school years he spent in St. Louis, Mo. It was at his eighth-grade graduation there that he first got to see all the skills and equipment that are involved in DJing.

Today, McArdle has a beaming smile as he shows me the picture that he carries in his backpack of another DJ at his graduation showing him the ropes. It was this powerful experience that led to his desire to learn the skill.

“I think I just started to listen to boom boxes at first all the time and going places like roller-skating rinks and something during 1990-1992. … I started learning how to be a DJ.”

McArdle briefly lived in Redding, where he says he received his best encouragement yet. He explained that the disabled people in Redding were the most supportive of him pursuing his dream to be a DJ. They had him play at their events and parties for about a year. From there, Jordan moved back to Paradise and continued to pursue his musical interests, playing occasionally at the Recreation Center in Paradise—which he describes as “really great and fun.”

McArdle currently works part time at the Work Training Center in Chico and part-time as a DJ in Paradise, where he lives and practices in the evenings, performing at various teen nights on occasion. He is also currently helping to orchestrate club events at Sorrento’s Italian Restaurant in Paradise. He says he likes to go bike riding and shop for music, but overall DJing music is still his favorite activity.

And, like any true DJ, he has also built an impressive set of equipment comprised of dual professional CD players, a Peavey mixer, a Peavey CS Power amp, a Mackie 1400 amp and six 15-inch speakers, not to mention a book of CDs, lighting and smoke machines—for all of which McArdle says he paid little over $4,000.

Although McArdle is happy mixing CDs, he would someday like to learn how to mix vinyl—though it is a much harder task. Among his top musical influences is DJ Micro.

As for the future, McArdle is eager to play for larger crowds.

“I would like to play for school dances and small raves for now,” he says. McArdle seems modest about his future, taking this hobby one step at a time. But he has already far exceeded what most could imagine.

Dusty Rogers, who is working with McArdle to organize an event at Sorrento’s on March 30, knows that it may only be a matter of time before he gets his wish.

“He loves to show off his equipment, and he loves DJing. He’s always excited.”