Last month, I was able to fly to South Florida and spend a little time with the President working on some Panda business. I’d been discussing doing a piece on him, but didn’t know how to approach it. Luckily, we were given a great reason to hang out and I was able to write about my experience with Dane and what it’s like in a couple days of being the Prez!
Dane Hansen has a lot on his mind. As President of P.A.N.D.A., he’s the leading voice behind the association of D.J.s trying to change the game. As I sat down with him to finish up some organization business, we start to talk about the future of P.A.N.D.A. Where can it go? What can we do when we all work together? What are the solutions to the biggest problems in the D.J. world today? Dane and the Board of Directors speak a few times on month on upcoming events, as well as decisions for the direction of the organization. There are also committee meetings for the different facets of the association: website/social media, fundraising, event planning, and more with new divisions being added as the association grows. There are some really wonderful people behind the organization, but no one is more involved in it all than the president himself.
Dane is no stranger to the big game. Starting with Michael J. Peter on the East Coast, he decided to take a chance at Las Vegas. So he hopped a plane and infamously walked into the audition wearing a white suit and….sandals. This audition led him to the job he’s was most known for in his career: head of the D.J. team at Treasures in Las Vegas, where he and other top-notch jocks like Shawn Claveau, Andrew Kutz, Kevin Murphy, and Freddie Woods brought the club to record numbers and led them to being one of the best clubs in Las Vegas. After dealing with some abrupt changes and difficult decisions over the last few years, he found himself looking for something new. After being courted by a few different clubs across the country–hell, I even tried to get him to join the Rhino team with me in Dallas–he was brought on by fellow PANDA board member Jimmy Boucher at Monroes of Palm Beach. To me, Monroes, Winner of the 2015 E.D. Award Winner for Club of the Year South, is one of the few clubs to make a big splash in recent years. The club is amazing–spotlight coming soon– and is a dream come true for jocks in the industry. He is also a three-time E.D. nominee himself: two times for D.J. of the Year and one time for Employee of the Year. “I’m like Susan Lucci!”, he laughs as he recalls coming so close, so many times. Last year, he was the inaugural recipient of the Panda of the Year award at our Pandamonium event in Las Vegas at House Showclub. The board secretly convened without him to talk about a way to reward the man that had done so much, thus this award was born. More important that anything to him though, are his children. A proud father of two, he would do anything for his family. The same goes for his friends. While some will find that he holds things close to the vest, those that know him best know why. It’s not been an easy ride, and it’s only going to be more challenging as Panda faces more milestones in the future. But he’s ready for whatever comes next.
My first day hanging out was pure business. As we sat down to finalize some issues that we’d been working on for some time, it was nice to feel the accomplishment for something so long in the making. It’s been a long road these few years and things have sidetracked the board along the way, like, you know, life. Most of us have moved across the country, ended relationships, strengthened others, lost/found/switched jobs, and simply tried to survive, all while building an association completely on volunteer work and board donated money. (Seriously, Jeb Jarrell could put a down payment on a house with what’s he’s put into the organization. Not kidding. At all.) At the head of this is Dane, who’s had to face the same challenges along the way. But he does it proudly and quietly. This is his major goal, his life’s work. So when these milestones come, we take a minute to enjoy them. The best part about Dane’s new residence is that he lives across the street from a stunning beach with stunning sunsets and striking blue waters. So you can guess where we want to take a breather. Seriously, the place is an impressive escape from the rest of the world . After a long day, we crashed. No one was expecting what came next. You never know what’s coming for you…
The morning after I started writing this article, something eye-opening happened. On his way home, Dane had stopped for gas when a couple of guys walked up to him and asked him if he had any money. One had a knife. Dane has previous training as a Marine, so he was able to defend himself though he says he doesn’t remember most of what happened. He was left with a few bumps and bruises, and even a light knife cut, but in the end, his nerves were what was truly affected.
As we sat down and talked about the ordeal, you can tell the attack and bodily injury were just are a part of what he described as a “wake up call.” Just seeing the aftermath and hearing about it got me thinking. Nothing lasts forever and we must be grateful for every moment. That day, I saw Dane hug his daughter a little tighter, eat a little slower, and hug his daughter a little tighter. Nothing makes you rethink life like almost losing it
In between the icing of bloody knuckles and patching up of wounds, were P.A.N.D.A board meetings for upcoming events and D.J. meetings at Monroe’s. There’s never much downtime when you’ve got two full-time jobs working with the biggest names coming up in the industry right now. I was fortunate enough to spend my night in the booth with him doing lights before heading out and we had an absolute blast. If you’ve never had a chance to head down to West Palm Beach and catch a show with him or his boothmate Jimmy Boucher, you’re truly missing out. They are two of the best in the game and the club is off the chain. It’s always a place that you can feel comfortable really letting loose and having a good time. It an exceptional atmosphere all the way around.
In the end, this isn’t a job for just anyone. The work Dane puts into this never ends. He empties his email only for it fill back up into the THOUSANDS just a month a later. Everyone has an idea of what it takes, but few, if any, have the time to put any work in on it. There’s consistently hands to be shaken, phone calls to be made, and texts to respond to. And this isn’t even something he asked for, but something he valiantly jumped into when the situation arose through some unforeseen circumstances. Since then, he’s guided P.A.N.D.A. along the path the best way he knew how, from his heart. Thanks for reading.