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Nightlife profile: DJ Pepe Manzano 

If you're a fan of Charlotte's Latin music scene, chances are you've been treated to the musical stylings of DJ Pepe Manzano. Born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the lifelong music enthusiast became interested in DJ'ing while attending a friend's birthday party. He moved to North Carolina after graduating high school and continued pursuing his interest in spinning. After an old roommate helped him expand his knowledge of the craft, the job offers began pouring in; he's been playing professionally for about seven years.

Creative Loafing: Is there an event you've DJ'ed at that stands out, for better or worse?

DJ Pepe Manzano: For me, every event is unique, and I have good memories of every place I work. Something that I'll never forget is each time I DJ at a big concert or festival. The atmosphere is what makes it unforgettable. Through my career, I've performed at concerts like Don Omar, Wisin y Yandel, Pitbull, Tito el Bambino, and many more; I've also DJ'ed many times at local Latin festivals.

Do you have any signature mixes?

Every time that I DJ, whether it's at a club, wedding, festival, or any other kind of event, I always come with something different. I read the crowd, and adjust my music to their liking. That's been my key to success in this business; why my schedule is always full. Every time that I play, it's free styling for me because I like to have fun with the music. If I had to call something my signature mix, it would be when I mix after a set of bachata to techno/electronic. And after the set is done, I mix merengue/mambo without cutting the music. Everything is blended.

When you're at an event where you're not DJ'ing, do you ever find yourself critiquing the musical selection?

I don't get to go out much because I'm always working every weekend, and whenever I have a night off, I prefer to spend time with my wife and daughter. The last time I went out to a party was more than a year ago. I will say I don't pay attention to the bad things that a DJ does, but the good things, so that I can learn more and more every day.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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