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Vernon DJ says the kids are all right
A single dad to his seven-year-old son, a personal trainer and yoga instructor at Predator Ridge, Chris Antonation doesn’t have a lot of free time.
But for the past seven years, he’s found the time to provide a place to go for North Okanagan teens, hosting dances at venues around town, where he takes on the role of DJ Chrispin.
“All anyone hears is the bad stuff that comes from events held for this age group, but I have been going for seven years with them now almost completely under the radar,” he said. “I think it’s fair that I get to stick up for the positive movement that I have built.
“When you step through the doors, you’re all there for all the right reasons, it doesn’t matter who your friends are.”
Growing up in Vernon, Antonation played basketball, hung out with his friends and graduated from Clarence Fulton secondary school.
But he often felt there was a lack of things to do when he was a teen and wanted to provide a place for kids ages 13 to 18 to hang out with their friends, in a safe, alcohol-free environment.
As Chrispin, he’s been hosting events around town for the teen crowd, with few incidents, through his company, Nevaland Productions, in both Vernon and Kelowna.
“There is not much for kids to do at night, or rather not much to do that they actually want to do,” he said. “I want them to be a part of everything and that just spreads — I’m comfortable with myself, because you can’t teach other people until you reach it yourself.
“The more you accept other people for who they are, the more you will be accepted for who you are. I’m Peter Pan and all these people are my lost boys, but I’m looking out for them and they respect me.”
Antonation played his first gig as a DJ at the age of 19, for 10,000 people at a summer festival. He eventually joined forces with promoters Flipside Entertainment.
“I would do events from the ground up, finding space, getting insurance and doing the DJ work,” he said.
Antonation hosted his dances at The Hub for the past few years, starting with around 30 kids in attendance, gradually increasing to about 110. He also hosted teen nights at downtown night clubs, Mix and Moe Joes.
“I sold out the last seven dances I held,” he said, adding that he’s now branched out on his own and recently held his first dance at the Army, Navy & Air Force Club, with about 130 people turning up to dance, listen to music and socialize. “We search coats and bags at the door and we keep it safe —we haven’t had a fight in two years.
“We mostly get kids who are 13 to 16, but we’ve had some 18-year-olds come out and dance the night away.”
With courses in business under his belt, Antonation is currently mentoring three teens to learn to DJ so that he can move more towards the business side of things. So far, the dances are a labour of love: any profit he makes is poured back into the next event.
“I love to DJ and I will always be a DJ. But these kids are going to grow up and go to clubs and now I’m setting them up for behaving themselves in nightclubs.
“Everyone wants to tell teenagers how to act, but no one wants to show them how, but if I can show them and if I draw and attract all these people to me, it builds a little community.”
Antonation gives thanks to his sponsors, Vernon Cross-town Courier and Sunshine Autographics, for their support.
“And my brother is good with graphics, so he does the posters for me.”
Antonation’s next event is an Easter Teen Night taking place April 20 at the ANAF Hangar in Vernon from 8 p.m. to midnight, with an on-site concession.
Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door. For more details, e-mail email@example.com or the Facebook page, Teen Nightlife Okanagan.