VANCOUVER, British Columbia — One of the ongoing stories in U.S. Soccer is the wild growth of the supporter culture, embodied by the American Outlaws fan club, which now has 173 chapters that follow the U.S. national teams around the world.
And if you’re a hardcore U.S. supporter who attended the raucous World Cup fan parties last summer in Brazil and here on Monday night in advance of USA-Nigeria, you probably recognized the deejay who whipped everyone into a frenzy on the dance floor.
His name is Spin Easy, and the story of how he got connected to U.S. Soccer is a rollicking one. Before the U.S.’s first game at last year’s World Cup in Natal, Brazil, the New York City native happened to be in the Brazilian city for an unrelated gig. But once he heard about the giant U.S. Soccer-organized fan party the night before USA-Ghana, he decided to drop by.
“He just showed up to the party like any fan and found someone from our event management side,” says Garret Drexler, the fan services manager for U.S. Soccer. “We had lined up other acts, but he said, ‘Hey, I’m a deejay. I’ve got my stuff at my hotel. Here’s who I am, and this is what I’ve done. This looks like fun.’ So we pulled out our phones and Googled him, and everybody said, ‘Yeah, this guy looks pretty legit. Let’s let him play.’”
Sure enough, his resume was impressive. A New York City native, Spin Easy studied saxophone at the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts—the model for the movie and TV show Fame—where his classmates included Jennifer Aniston, Marlon Wayans and Omar Epps. He eventually moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he taught himself how to deejay and was discovered by Snoop Dogg.
For two years, Spin Easy was Snoop’s tour manager and opening-act deejay in countries around the world, including South Africa, Japan and Australia. He has also worked with Akon, T-Pain and Ice Cube.
What followed that night in Natal last year was a memorable evening.
“I’m like, ‘I know what these people want!’” recalls Spin Easy. “So I just got up there and started getting the crowd going. I was asking for all the roll calls, like, ‘What cities are in the house? Are we going to win tomorrow?’”
Then he blasted Turn Down For What, by Lil Jon and DJ Snake. Bedlam.
“The crowd went crazy,” Spin says. “Girls started crowd-surfing. They’re jumping up and down and going bananas. I had them all riled up for 30 minutes, and [U.S. Soccer] was like, ‘Hey, you want to do more?’”
And it went from there. Spin Easy deejayed the U.S. fan parties in Manaus and Salvador and became something of a cult figure.
“Soccer is such a big emerging sport in America, and there’s so much hype behind it, so much energy,” he says. “The crowds, man, Americans know how to party. It’s crazy.”
For the U.S. Soccer party in Salvador before last year’s round of 16 game against Belgium, organizers had a challenge. There weren’t any commercial flights available from São Paulo to Salvador on short notice, so the federation decided to put Spin Easy on the friends-and-family charter flight.
As Drexler recalls, “A guy from our staff who was putting together the flight manifest calls me and says, ‘Hey, I’m going to need better than ‘Spin Easy’ for this guy’s name on the manifest.’ It was a whirlwind of he just sort of appeared, and he was fantastic and a great guy to boot. We just enjoyed having him.”
When U.S. Soccer was organizing its Women’s World Cup fan party, there was only one deejay it considered. And so Spin Easy was here again on Monday, cranking out tunes at a packed Commodore Ballroom downtown.
It was a slightly different vibe from the one in Brazil, at least at first, and Spin was ready for that. “The difference between the [fans of the] men’s and women’s teams, from what I’ve seen, is the men’s fans are more people who want to party and go aaaaaahhhhhhh!” he says. “The women’s fans are more family-oriented. So I curtailed my set a little more toward the kids.”
“So I said, ‘All right, we’ll do something for the kids at first, and then we’re going to put the kids to bed and the adults are gonna party, all right?’ I had from 9:30 until 1 a.m., so I figured I’d wear the kids out for like an hour, and from that point on I could start playing more adult music, right? Yeah, that didn’t happen. Because the kids were so hyped. They were all sticking around saying, ‘What’s next? What you got, Spin?’ But the kids finally started dwindling, and we just rocked from 11 until 1, just having a blast.”
From the way he spoke, it was clear that the deejay was having a pretty good time, too.