Before Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s song battle series VERZUZ brought a semblance of live music back into people’s lives during the pandemic, the place you wanted to be for pandemic-proof Black joy was DJ D-Nice’s Club Quarantine on his Instagram Live.
Starting March 18, 2020 with a yearning to bring people together through music, the 50-year-old legendary DJ spun generations of records for tens of thousands of people at a time regardless of celebrity or influence. At any point, you could be shimmying to Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” with a mimosa in hand and the pandemic momentarily in the back of your mind, leave D-Nice a message in the comment section showing your appreciation, and Nia Long, Diddy or Drake would drop a message expressing that same admiration as if you were bumping shoulders with them rushing to the DJ booth to shout your Black joy to the DJ.
The former First Lady Michelle Obama hopped in for some early evening grooves and had the likes of supermodel Naomi Campbell showering her with adulation. Halle Berry is a Club Quarantine regular, Janet Jackson popped in for one set, and he’s even had Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, and Mariah Carey share the screen with him for impromptu chats. In 2020, D-Nice’s Club Quarantine was one of the only events in the world where anything can happen and it’ll always be in celebration of Blackness.
COVID-19 let us know we’re all in danger, and D-Nice reminded us we’re all we need to have a good time. And he did it all because he felt empty of the Black joy he gets from uniting people through songs. “Sitting at home during this quarantine, I started to feel empty,” he told the New York Times. “There is nothing like playing the music and feeling the music.”
While Instagram Live was the home base for all things Club Quarantine, D-Nice’s Black joy parties spread further than social media. He deejayed at the 73rd Emmy Awards, hosted a virtual prom party for the class of 2020, played a set on ABC’s Good Morning America for the class of 2020, treated first responders in Miami to a drive-in live concert, and spread more Black joy than can fit in a sentence. For his magnanimity, he was awarded DJ of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards and presented the Artist of the Year award by Michelle Obama at the Webby Awards. If you saw D. Nice on your screen at any point in 2020, you were in for a good time you never wanted to end.