1. Mama Cutsworth
2. DJ J Jackson
3. DJ Co-op
Jón Olafson is the wearer of many hats.
During the day, he works as director of specialized programming for children and youth in the Winnipeg School Division, as a therapist at the queer-owned Our Own Health Centre and as a teacher at the University of Manitoba in the Counselling Psychology Department.
On select evenings, he blasts pop anthems alongside dancing drag divas as DJ J Jackson.
“I like to keep it very special. I don’t DJ every weekend,” Olafson says. “I like to do a couple of times a month, just so I can maintain that balance.”
Collaboration is key for Olafson. Among the thoughtfully handpicked events Olafson performs at is Winnipeg dance party institution House of Gold Diamonds, alongside longtime collaborator and friend Mama Cutsworth.
“We’ve spent a long time creating a really feminist, strength-based, positive psychology lens to dance parties and really celebrating in that,” he says.
Olafson also is a co-founder of PopTart, a DJing trio whose mission is to indulge the most guilty pop-music pleasures.
“We’re just unabashedly saying ‘I know you love this song, and I’m gonna play it, and we’re all gonna dance and sing to it,’” he says. “I love the environment that we collectively create out of that.”
A common thread that links all of Olafson’s musical endeavours is a balanced mandate of genuine joy and safety. The selectivity Olafson applies to the events he DJs comes from a place of consideration and love for audience members and their ability to truly let loose.
“In wanting to have that sense of community and genuineness, I think those things can be created in those spaces where folks are feeling safer. It’s a really hard thing to guarantee.
“There’s nothing I love more than height and excitement and collective energy of a 1 a.m. dance floor when you’ve created that safe, positive and fun space,” he says.
Published in Volume 74, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 28, 2019)