LGBTQ South Florida

Madonna’s favorite DJ celebrates 25 years spinning Miami’s famous dance beats

Early in her career, DJ Tracy Young poses with Madonna, who helped take her music from the underground to the mainstream. The DJ has remixed 10 of Madonna’s hits, and those of many other top artists.
Early in her career, DJ Tracy Young poses with Madonna, who helped take her music from the underground to the mainstream. The DJ has remixed 10 of Madonna’s hits, and those of many other top artists.

Miami's beloved house-music queen will celebrate her 25th anniversary as an international DJ the only way she knows how — with music.

DJ Tracy Young, the darling of the thriving LGBTQ circuit party scene, carved a niche for herself in Miami as a global electronic music celebrity. Two decades later, the 46-year-old is still spinning, hosting a weekly iHeart radio show that airs Saturday nights at 9 p.m. and providing the soundtrack to wild nights at The Manor and other gay hotspots around the world.

DJ Tracy Young poses for a portrait. This month, she celebrates 25 years behind the turntables.

“Music always been my best friend,” she said. “It has always been the one thing that never let me down.”

Young’s remixes rocked the world’s largest dance floors. Kat Coric met Young when she performed at the Black & Blue Festival in Montreal. Young has always delivered, leaving crowds enjoying their night on a packed dance floor to the fullest, Coric said.

“She has a big heart and she truly loves what she does and this shows through her productions and sets because you cannot fake pure joy,” she said. “Over the years she has developed a distinct strong following and has never ceased delivering to her fans.”

This fall, fans can expect more of her iconic beats. Young is releasing a compilation of all her work in the fall, which will showcase the evolution of music as DJing went from turntables to computers, she said.

“There’s something to be said about the way things start as an art,” she said. “The technology has made it very easy to do, but when I started, many DJs practiced for hours an hours to perfect the craft.”

Along with developing her skills, Young also had help from other women in the industry. Ingrid Casares, a South Beach pioneer and onetime co-owner of Liquid nightclub, played a large role in helping her rise to fame.

“I give her a lot of credit and we’re still good friends,” Young said. “She was always pushing me.”

Casares also introduced Young to Madonna, who would later invite her to spin private events, from movie premieres to her wedding to Guy Ritchie. The approval from an industry trailblazer rocketed Young into the public eye, allowing her to take her passion for dance music from the underground to the mainstream.

“[Madonna] let me be myself and express myself through my music,” Young said. “She has a vision of what she wants her stuff to be like, but when it came to myself personally, she never told me what to do. She let me paint that blank canvas the way I saw it.”

DJ Tracy Young and Demi Lavato. Among other hits, Young also remixed Lovato’s song, ‘Neon Lights.’

Young has since grown a famous following of stars including Lady Gaga, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, Cher and more. She has remixed chart-topping artists including Demi Lovato, Katy Perry and Gloria Estefan.

But first, it started with a boyfriend. (She no longer dates men, only women.) It was 1989 and Young was dating the DJ for all sorority parties on campus at Radford University in Virginia. At his apartment, she would play on his turntables — her first lesson on how to combine two records and make people move.

Two years later, the Washington, D.C., native performed her first set live and the rest is dance music history. Today, her latest single, “Peace, Love, & Music,” sits at #21 on the Billboard dance chart.

It’s a big change from the world in which she started, where female DJs were unheard of.

“No one would really pay attention to me,” she said. “The way you auditioned for clubs back then would be to make a demo cassette tape of what you would play if you got hired. People would tell me, ‘Girls don’t do this.’ But I just loved it so much, I continued.”