DJ Dave’s gig for refugees
Bringing back the beat

DJ Dave’s gig for refugees

David Southwick has pledged to spin some tunes at this year’s Zionism Victoria Yom Ha’atzmaut party on one condition – that the community raises at least $10,000 to support Ukrainian and Russian refugees fleeing to Israel.

David Southwick in his DJ heyday (left) and Southwick at last year's Caulfield pollies debate. Photo: supplied and Peter Haskin
David Southwick in his DJ heyday (left) and Southwick at last year's Caulfield pollies debate. Photo: supplied and Peter Haskin

BEFORE he made a career in politics, David Southwick was the master of a different kind of spin – he was a DJ, amping up the doof-doof at major entertainment events and parties – and now there’s a chance to see the senior pollie return to his party-music heyday – for a great cause.

Southwick has pledged to perform at this year’s Zionism Victoria (ZV) Yom Ha’atzmaut party celebrating Israel’s 75th birthday, taking to the stage on one condition – that the community raises at least $10,000 for the critical work by the United Israel Appeal (UIA) supporting Ukrainian and Russian refugees fleeing to Israel.

During last year’s state election campaign, young staffers were quizzing the Liberal deputy and Caulfield MP about his former party work – and although it was tempting, he resisted a DJ redux just for fun. “I didn’t want it to be seen as if I was doing it as electoral stuff.”

This year, with refugees and Israel standing to benefit, “I kind of thought if there’s ever a time to do it, probably now’s the time,” he told The AJN.

Southwick this week reminisced about rock’n’roll music and the backbeat you can’t lose, making the dance floor thump at Chaser’s Nightclub some 30 years ago, and becoming a fixture on the simcha circuit in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Beginning to DJ in year 12 at Mount Scopus Memorial College, those gigs helped pay for his first car. He also waited tables at a Carlton night-spot. There he saw Robert Huggins DJ-ing for the Andrew Noble entertainment outfit. He asked Huggins if he could try out at the turntable – it was a buzz – and six months later Southwick set up his own DJ business.

In a crowded field of platter jugglers, he identified his point of difference. A DJ knows it can be “murder on the dance floor”, as Sophie Ellis-Bextor sang it in 2001. But “DJ Dave”, as he became known, would untether from the console and engage with the crowd to ignite the night.

“I really enjoyed finding ways to get the party started, whether it be the right song, teaching them a dance or getting people in a conga line – whatever it might take. I’d look for whatever I could possibly do to ensure I’d start and finish the night putting a smile on everyone’s face.”

DJ-ing until 2009, through a playlist of foot-stomping chart toppers like YMCA, Do the Bus Stop and Macarena, long after a DJ’s vinyl and CDs had surrendered to the memory stick, Southwick chalked up some 1000 gigs – corporate events, Maccabi and AUJS dances, and a simcha circuit of bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and 18th and 21st birthdays.

He later ran a DJ course at Bialik College, and was still DJ-ing when he stood as a federal Liberal candidate in 2004.

At one of his gigs, a niece’s bat mitzvah at the Theodor Herzl Club, he first met Hayley, now a Jewish community leader, and the couple have been married for 24 years.

“She helped me pack up the speakers and push them out the door and then her father was trying to push me out the door,” he laughed.

DJ Dave, now a father of two, said he is spending time poring over setlists and “getting match-fit” for his Yom Ha’atzmaut comeback. “With everything that we’ve gone through over the last couple of years, we really, really need a party, and what better time to celebrate than Israel’s 75th birthday?”

Venturing that DJ Dave’s one-night reprise could be “the biggest comeback since ABBA reunited”, ZV executive director Zeddy Lawrence invited people to upload photos, videos and other dance floor memorabilia to a special ZV web page, and most importantly to donate to the UIA appeal, so refugees of the Ukraine war can start a new life in Israel.

“If we’re going to take a trip down memory lane,” he said, “allowing DJ Dave to relive his glory years and the rest of us to relive our simchas, we need everyone to chip in.”

UIA Victoria CEO Jeff Feldman said, “We’re delighted to be partnering with ZV to bring back this icon of the community to perform on such a special occasion, Israel’s 75th anniversary, while raising funds for such a critical cause – helping refugees fleeing a war zone embark on their new lives in Israel.”

To make a donation go to Upload your DJ Dave memories at

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