Study Abroad by Day, DJ by Night

UVA student Jacko Reichert, who is studying abroad this spring at SLU-Madrid, plays sets at popular clubs such as Icon, Los Amantes and Rubicon.
Jacko Reichert plays a set at a Madrid club Los Amantes.
Jacko Reichert plays a set at a Madrid club Los Amantes.
Schuyler Moore
SLU-Madrid study abroad student Jacko Reichert of University of Virginia plays a set at Los Amantes, a Madrid nightclub

The lights of the popular Madrid nightclub Rubicon begins to flicker and shine. Soon smoke fills the DJ section of the dancefloor, creating a mist of colorful lights and smog. The loud crowd begins to lower their volume and start dancing. Jacko Reichert takes the stage and begins his set.

What does Reichert like best about this scene? “From starting out with making shitty song remixes in my bedroom, to DJing in my fraternities basement, to now playing at clubs and getting free roam of the music and vibes for that many people – that’s my favorite part about it,” Reichert says.

A study abroad student at St. Louis University by day, and a DJ at some of the biggest clubs in Madrid every night, Jacko Reichert, who was once just another University of Virginia student from Charlottesville, Virginia, is now taking Madrid by storm. The up-and-coming DJ is now playing sets once or twice a week at clubs like Icon, Los Amantes, Rubicon, F***ing Mondays, and Toyroom – all in Madrid.

Some of Reichert’s biggest inspirations are popular DJs: Fred Again, Odd Mob and Keinemusik. But now Reichert himself is an inspiration to his fellow study abroad students and young adults who have no clue how to get into the European DJ market. How did he do it? His success can be attributed to his networking technique and determination to make connections to club promotors here in Madrid.

Reichert was introduced the house music world at the ripe age of 10, when all his older brother could play and talk about was the popular late DJ Avicii. He watched a couple videos of Avicii’s sets and was immediately drawn in, so he decided to download some DJ software and start playing around with different mixes and sounds. Reichert and a friend even started uploading these mixes to the popular music app Soundcloud. He vows never to show them to anyone.

But now he is showing his mixes to crowds of hundreds of people in packed nightclubs.

“When I was in college I bought my first real board and just started being the designated DJ for my fraternity,” said Reichert.

When he got to Madrid in the beginning of this semester of his study abroad term, he began to expand his network in order to get the DJ jobs that he wanted. He met a promoter when he got to Madrid that got him started at some clubs playing small sets. “I did not really enjoy those clubs, so I talked to my friend who lives here and he set me up with some cooler clubs and bigger sets that I wanted to play,” Reichert said.

American DJ’s are great for the market because in the end clubs only really care about selling tickets. American DJs give the clubs a better shot at targeting the study abroad audience in addition to the Spanish regulars.

— Grey Holmen, fellow DJ and study abroad student

This friend was Nico Semerene, a former UVA student who was in Reichert’s fraternity and who now is a senior at IE University in Madrid. He decided to help out Reichert because he knew him and knew he had a connection to house music and DJing. Semerene said that it is a struggle to find new people wanting to play gigs, and thought Reichert would be a perfect fit.

Reichert plays a key role in the success of these nightclubs, Semerene said, because study abroad students make up a large portion of the people attending the clubs.

“There are a lot of American abroad kids here, and he attracts a different crowd while also still keeping the Spanish crowd as well,” Semerene said.

Grey Holmen, a fellow DJ, study abroad student, and friend of Reichert, agrees. “American DJ’s are great for the market because in the end clubs only really care about selling tickets,” Holmen said. “American DJs give the clubs a better shot at targeting the study abroad audience in addition to the Spanish regulars.”

“I love the energy that the people abroad bring- jumping around, drinking a lot – you don’t get that everywhere,” Semerene added.

But it’s not easy to strike a balance between the demands of two cultures.

“During one of Jacko’s first sets in Madrid, a club manager was a little annoyed at him for giving ‘too much energy’,” says Luke Osetek, a friend of Reichert and an avid club goer in Madrid. “You see at clubs in Madrid and Europe they want to keep people around late or actually, early in the morning. Jacko’s set had the crowd going crazy and wore them out too early. It was definitely a new concept to him, but he has since adapted to mixing songs at different energy levels to make everyone happy.”

Reichert said that DJing in Madrid is not all glitz and glamor. Much can go wrong. And some things are more difficult than they appear – like song requests, which he says he hates.

“The way people DJ is using USBs so I have all my stuff downloaded beforehand so promoters and people in the crowd asking me to add stuff last minute is not really possible,” said Reichert.

Some promoters are also difficult to deal with, he said.

“One time they asked me to play commercial music right before my set, and then got pissed off at me when I could not play commercial stuff.”

There are aspects about his DJ experience so far that have been incredibly rewarding and eye-opening, though. Reichert said he developed a new-found love for Spanish Techno music.

“One thing I have tried to incorporate is Spanish music,” he said. “Spanish house is really unique, and I love the vocals. The language goes really well with house music, so I try to incorporate artists like Bad Bunny and others that they love.”

His favorite time DJing in Madrid so far was at Rubicon over UVA spring break, when his friends were on the dance floor.

“I was supposed to start earlier than I did but seeing all my friends was really cool,” Reichert said. “I didn’t ask to get paid because I wanted to do it for the experience, but they paid 150 anyway.”

Jacko Reichert’s hands begin to touch the DJ board, and he begins to adjust the sounds. The vocal music of Gnarls Barkley’s hit “Crazy” seamlessly blends into the Afro-house beat in the background. The crowd begins to clap and cheer and dance- feeling the music’s every beat and drop. His head starts to move and bump to the sound of his song.

Reichert’s family and friends watch as he opens his set at Los Amantes on a Tuesday night. His mother dances along to the music while his friends reach for more of their drinks. They all have noticeably big smiles on their faces. “Aw I am so happy for Jacko, he looks so happy. He is doing so well,” said one fellow UVA student and friend Ella Drummey to a group of her friends.It is almost 3 a.m.. None of them are leaving the club any time soon.

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