With the flick of his wrist, DJ Esquire—a club and competitive DJ—can always get the party started. Esquire heads to Hartford, Conn., to reclaim his first-place title at a regional DJ competition—a title he lost last year. Can he reclaim the number one spot? Watch to find out.

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Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, DJ Esquire, a.k.a., John Chavies, 35, is a competitive scratch DJ who uses an eclectic mix of hip-hop, '80s rock and sometimes even video game theme songs to create unique tracks. He's won several significant DJ awards, and even travelled to London in September 2012, to represent the United States in a global DJ Competition.

But Esquire's winning streak hit a snag last year when the first-place title at a Hartford, Conn., regional DJ competition eluded him. On the day of that competition, Esquire drove to Connecticut with visions of filling his empty trunk with prizes and awards. Instead, he drove away with an empty trunk, which he later filled with beer to take home.

In this video, DJ Esquire returns to Hartford, carrying with him the desire to win, but also the fear of failing again. Will he pull off a flawless set that impresses the judges? Will his nerves get the best of him? Can he reclaim the number one spot? Watch to find out.

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Behind the Scenes

As a recent transplant to New York City, I decided to ask friends who had lived in the city for many years if they knew of someone who might make an interesting subject for a video story. My friend Melanie Hendel attended Scratch Academy, which is the DJ school where DJ Esquire teaches. "He is the nicest person in the world," Hendel said as she recommended that I reach out to Esquire by phone.

DJ Esquire did indeed prove to be incredibly nice and accommodated to my partner, Elly Yu, and me as we followed him around for several weeks, attempting to film his every move. Quick to laugh at our jokes and slow to become frustrated by our slow tripod skills and fumbles with video equipment, Esquire was a gracious subject who let us into his life with complete openness and honesty. This was how we were able to pick up on Esquire's dual persona: At his heart, he is John Chavies—sweet, funny and charming. But on stage, and, in many ways, in his public life, John succumbs to Esquire, a bombastic partier who loves to drink and dance the night away. Esquire is also as competitive as they come and literally growls at his opponents during scratch competitions.

This dual identity proved to be fascinating as it played out on screen. In certain shots, Esquire is all teeth as he smiles and laughs up a storm with his friends and his dog. But in other shots, Esquire is throwing dirty looks with an upturned lip towards his opponent. It begged the question, who is the real person and who is the persona? I'm not sure if this video answers that question, but perhaps it's best to leave it up to the audience to decide.


DJ Esquire Fights for the DMC Hartford Regional Title -- by Jeannie Choi

Esquire: I love what I do, and I have no regrets about any decision to make this my life.


Esquire: Some people might say John's a really really sweet guy and Esquire's an asshole.

Esquire: It came to me in a dream one night. Um, I was on stage performing in my dream and I just heard the word Esquire being chanted in the background and that's how it stuck.

Ticket Lady: 8:07, track 21.

Esquire: Thank you.

Esquire: This upcoming competition is the beginning of the 2013 uh DMC Battleground.

Esquire: I really wanted to win last year. I got second and I was totally disappointed.

Esquire: I tend to be very angry when I'm on stage espeically in a head to head sense because, I mean, it's really kind of dog eat dog.

Esquire: I've been kind of taking the day, the entire trip up here like watching my routine. I recorded myself practising last night so that I could mentally remember.

Esquire: I want this really bad.

Train conductor: This station is Darien.

Esquire: I am always nervous when I perform. Uh, I find like I'm nervous more in smaller audiences because in a smaller audience everyone has a face and everyone's staring at you.


Esquire: I still to this day do not feel I'm the, I'm good at what I do. I always feel I can improve.

Emcee: Three-two-one. DJ Esquire y'all. (Applause.)

Esquire: I go into every battle feeling like I'm going to win, so maybe that's just the attitude that you have to have.

Emcee: The champion tonight, the champion is … DJ Esquire from Brooklyn. (Applause.)

Esquire: Even though I do have you know 18 years in the industry, I still feel like I'm a student of the game.

I am still living my story as we speak.

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