"I'm kind of shocked," Austin party rocker DJ Mel said on Sunday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours earlier, he streamed the first edition of his new Saturday evening Living Room Dance Party series live on Facebook. It brought a jubilant musical reprieve to people within the city limits, across the country and around the world who were hunkering down at home to practice social distancing amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
His DJ session began around 6 p.m. Saturday and lasted until 2 a.m. Thousands tuned in to watch live. By 4 p.m. on Sunday, the Facebook post of the video had over 17,000 comments. According to Facebook’s analytics, the post had reached 913,000 people, the artist a.k.a. Mel Cavaricci said.
Cavaricci is no stranger to live sessions on Facebook. It’s how he practices and keeps his skills sharp. This time, as he took the wheels, the anxiety of the current moment was on his mind.
"I just kind of pitched it like, ‘Hey, I know, you guys are cooped up in the house... let's have a dance party at your house’ and I think a lot of people gravitated towards it," he said.
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He was expecting to play for his "Austin homies" and would have been happy with any sort of engagement, he said.
With a few internet connectivity issues, the stream stutter started, but by 6:30 or so, he was up and running, focused on sharing body-moving grooves.
Occasionally he would notice a friend join the stream and he would shout them out.
"After a while, it was just like, all these like bubbles started popping up," he said.
And then, "it just went nuts," he said.
People from across the country were logging on. At one point he saw Austin mayor, Steve Adler pop up.
He ignored the commenters who asked him to post his personal Venmo account so they could leave tips. Instead, he shouted out nonprofits like the Stand with Austin fund and Banding Together that have been set up to help Austin’s entertainment industry survive the loss of business from the cancellation of South by Southwest and other events.
He kept the party going for hours. Finally, at 2 a.m. he decided to call it a night.
"My dog was looking at me like, ‘Dude, what are you doing? I need to go outside. You need to feed me,’" he said.
Sitting in his backyard in the early hours of the morning reading comments and watching videos people posted of themselves dancing to his tunes, Cavaricci was overcome with emotion.
"There are a lot of people that are really, just freaked out over this entire ordeal right now," he said.
In his comments people were reaching out "like, man, this whole situation, this whole week has been terrifying, and I'm scared, but just, what you did tonight was huge," he said.
"I started getting choked up because, like, I'm a little freaked out too," he said.
It felt like a testament to the power of music.
"Music is a big deal, you know, and helps a lot of folks," he said.
DJ Mel is planning to make the Living Room Dance Party a weekly event, with the next installment set for Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. He’s using radio edits of rap songs to keep the event kid-friendly and he invites music fans of all ages to tune in on his official Facebook page.