Think back to every wedding, prom or birthday party you’ve ever been to. What made it fun? Of course the people did, but what else? I’m guessing it had something to do with the fantastic, exactly-right-for-the-occasion tunes — the songs that required you to get up and dance, or at least tap your foot.
Daryl Dunn and Joe Hurley, the partners behind DJ Funn, are big believers in the power of perfect music — so much so, that they built an entire business around it. And that business was booming: They were busy most weekends spinning tunes for weddings, retirements, graduations, proms and Sweet 16 parties.
Until COVID-19 locked everything down.
Teachers by day, they knew in early March that life was about to drastically change, as they had to quickly adjust to instructing their students through video. But with no events happening, the DJ business was dead in the water.
“Our last wedding was held on March 14, right before the stay-at-home order,” Dunn says. “We knew our business was shut down for the time being.”
Rather than spending too much time bemoaning their fate, they started talking about what they could do to be of service to the community. This conversation was nothing new for them, as they had already poured a significant amount of their talent into local charities like Eddy House, Solace Tree and local school fundraisers.
But this was different — what could they do for the community when people weren’t allowed to gather in large groups?
Their answer: Turn the idea of event DJing on its head, eliminating the need for people to gather in a common place and instead bringing the music to people where they are — whether they’re in the same house, cul de sac or neighborhood.
“We saw videos online of people dancing on their rooftops during the shutdown, and we thought how fun that would be,” Hurley says.
Those images led to Doorstep Disco. You simply schedule DJ Funn through their Facebook page or website, and they’ll show up at your home, text you they’re there and then put on a personal DJ party for you and the neighbors — from a responsible distance, of course. Everyone in the vicinity is invited to come out and dance in the streets, shaking off their cares and boredom from being stuck at home. And they do it all for no charge.
Dunn and Hurley contributed their time and their gear — they didn't charge for the discos, but they did encourage families to pay it forward by making a donation to the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation (NNCFF). They heard about the local non-profit organization when one of their clients asked if they would come out in exchange for a donation. Since they weren’t charging anyway, it was an easy yes. They were able to raise $7,000 for the organization by the time they stopped the program on June 15.
“We are humbled by the support of the DJ Funn team and the neighborhoods that have participated in the Doorstep Discos,” said NNCFF Executive Director Shilrey Folkins-Roberts. “Our community partners have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, but we have been able to connect with more community members through creative events like these.”
Dancing in the streets
Wendy Mulligan, who teaches with Dunn at Hunter Lake Elementary School, brought out DJ Funn for a short dance party in May for her husband’s surprise birthday party.
“Daryl provided such an amazing opportunity for our private community to get together safely and have some long overdue fun,” she says. “They’re going above and beyond to help raise money for local charities. And they’re encouraging people to pay it forward and spread joy and laughter with their music.”
Doorstep Discos are limited to an hour — you know, so as not to upset the neighbors. “We don’t want to overstay our welcome and infringe on the neighbors’ quiet time,” Hurley says.
In the last month and a half, they’ve played for more than 30 Doorstep Discos, bringing joy and fun to Northern Nevada families at a time when these concepts can be in short supply. They have at least a dozen more gigs booked through the end of May, but they still have room for more.
“These events have reinvigorated our passion for Djing,” Dunn says.
Dunn and Hurley are planning to continue the Doorstep Discos at least until the next phase of COVID-19. After that, they’re considering transitioning into block parties or maybe even private proms to try and get some of their old business back.
As Hurley says, “While we’re sheltering in place, there’s no reason we can’t be shaking it on the porch.”
Editor's Note: DJ Funn donated their services to the community through June 15, at which time they went back to DJing in the new world. If you'd like to learn more, visit the DJ Funn website or Facebook page.