Nerds Have DJ Switch and the Most Enthusiastic Dance Floors

Rose City Comic Con and Retro Gaming Expo have never known another hand on the needle.

DJ Switch (DJ Switch)

Jeff “DJ Switch” Sorensen has spent more than two decades earning his living behind the decks and flown his freak flag fiercely as long as he can recall. But our least glamorous superstar DJ only recently became a professional nerd.

It wasn’t a matter of waiting out his chance—Rose City Comic Con and Retro Gaming Expo have never known another hand on the needle. The job simply didn’t used to exist before social media, G4 coverage, and affordable synthetic battle-suits thrust a rather different sort of fandom into view.

“A lot of folks have misunderstandings about nerds,” Sorensen muses. “They’re widely considered antisocial, and that’s just not true. By and large, regardless of their fandom, nerd communities like to have structured, purposeful events with some of the most enthusiastic dance floors I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what it would look like without cosplay. Frankly, I don’t want to know.”

Sorensen’s hero’s journey began in earnest his second year at Oregon City High School. A band director’s abrupt retirement left Sorensen singularly qualified to run the school soundboard, thereby effectively granting an all-access pass and open schedule to a sophomore with nowhere to go and nothing to do. This proved to be a marvelous training ground for the soon-to-be-mobile DJ’s move to Portland, residency at the cavernous east county disco Refectory, and eventual turn behind the decks at big conventions.

He says it’s a misconception that nerds are uncoordinated and can’t keep a beat: “Band geeks are far more attuned to rhythm than the general public.”

Held to the same standards as a club DJ, Sorensen found this particular niche requires similar skills of empathetic turntablism but a considerably greater repertoire.

“When hired to perform, I mix all of my tracks by hand, on the fly, and in the moment. That being said, depending on the event, I’ll throw in some cartoon themes or video game music or artists well known on the internet together with the mainstream club music,” says Sorensen, a lifelong gamer.

Sorensen insists his primary concern remains inclusivity, connection and repping nerd culture at large. Plus, the rewards of being DJ Switch are beyond compare.

“Set lists change depending on the event, but the passion of the people [attending] does not,” he says. “That’s what keeps me coming back. My best show at the biggest club in Portland will still be less interesting than a mediocre night at the comic convention.”

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