DJ Spotlight: Ilan Fong, Secretary of Panda, 2015 DJOTY Nominee


Normally when I do these DJ spotlights, I ask the questions and then write an article around the answers. Ilan is talented enough of a writer that he kind of did it all on his own! Give it a read as Ilan tells us about his past and his vision for PANDA in the future. 


” I am of Chinese and Austrian descent and grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 1992 with a Bachelors Degree in Telecommunication. I was elected to the PANDA Board of Directors in February 2015 and was named Secretary of the Board later that Spring.
I started in the biz @ Tiffany’s (now called Christie’s) Cabaret as a barback in Phoenix AZ in 1994. Gary Marlin, the GM, left to open Bare Elegance in Pittsburgh, PA and I was flown in as part of the grand opening team, with John Hardin and Joey Ruggiero as the Dj’s. I was known for singing along at the top of my lungs and doing flying David Lee Roth kicks across the floor throughout the night and one day Joey asked “Have you ever though about being a DJ?”. BOOM! History was made!

Over the next 6 years or so I moved around a lot with the goal of learning my craft from the best in the biz and landing a Head DJ gig at a top club! I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with many of the most respected managers in the business. I learned the MOST from them because they are the ones who are there, on all your shifts, holding you accountable to every detail of being a top-flight DJ in this industry! I cannot stress this enough! Without the knowledgeable managers I worked with, I NEVER would have become the DJ I am now and I think this is missing in the industry today. There are fewer and fewer managers who understand and KNOW what (& why) they need their D.J. to do in order to make their club as successful as possible. These managers include but are not limited to Gary Marlin, Dennis DeGori, Randy Beasley, Russell Benedetto, Bill Avery, and my favorite GM of all time, the late, great Rob Caprio! Of course, I learned from the many great DJ’s I worked with, the most influential for me being John Hardin! Most of the rest I learned from my many hours of observation while off the clock, hanging in the booth trying to learn as much as possible, and by asking MANY questions of both managers and DJ’s.

While I always take anything I do very seriously (My father always said to me “I don’t care if you are a janitor. Just take pride and become the BEST janitor in the world”), it wasn’t till my son Chandler was born in 2002 that I accepted this as my CAREER. This took my focus to another level now that my life wasn’t about “me, me, me” anymore! My father also stressed the importance of never losing your love of learning! I truly feel that I have become a better DJ EVERY year of my career. I learn every day from all my co-workers and from the audience I play for on a nightly basis. That his never been more true than the last 2 years since my involvement with PANDA began! I have learned and gained so much from PANDA in the booth and, more importantly, in LIFE!!!

3 things for younger DJ’s.

1) Move around to work in different markets, clubs and with different managers/DJ’s! These experiences are invaluable and give you so many tools in your toolbelt that guys who have only worked in one market or one club can never bring to the table.

2)PANDA brings some of #1 to you. The amount of knowledge available to you through PANDA is UNPARALLELED and has never existed before! Take advantage of it!

3) One of the MOST important skills a DJ can have is LISTENING!!! Listen to your room. It will tell you everything you need to rock the house!!!

I currently am the Resident DJ @ Kahoots in Columbus, OH. I have been DJing there for over 14 years! This year I was nominated for 2015 DJ of the Year Nominee and am the co-host of “Strip Club U” with fellow PANDA Board Member, Danny Meyers. I love comic books (Over 30,000 in my personal collection), movies, music, and have a passion for martial arts. I trained extensively in multiple styles from ages 12-30. I am a singer and have fronted several bands and I’m now learning to produce my own electronic music. The most important thing in my life is FAMILY. First and foremost, being my teenage son, Chandler! I am very close with my extended family. I am blessed to have a diverse group of life-long friends from all walks of life. Life is empty and meaningless without family and friends to share your successes and to help you learn from your mistakes and failures!:)