Not All DJ Schools are Created Equally: How Paris Hilton's Guru Is Taking "Spin" Classes to New Heights

If you're of the belief that DJs aren't born, they're taught, then you'll be onboard with Garnish Music Production School, which has locations in London and Los Angeles. While the school may be better-known across the pond, founder Dave Garnish has helped train two well-known names on the L.A. party circuit: Paris Hilton and Nikki Pennie, whose DJ name is The British Bardot.

"I wasn't thinking about the DJ'ing part at all until I was approached by Paris Hilton's people and flew over to L.A. in secret," says Garnish, 39, a former DJ promoter and sound engineer, of how his music production school started offering a DJ course. "I thought, 'Why not have a DJ school and a music production school?'"

While Garnish's isn't the only school teaching people the skills to work a turntable - companies like Scratch DJ Academy, DJ4Life Academy and Dubspot all launched in the past few years - he says his school holds a slightly different reputation than the rest of its competitors.

"We [train] people who are already in the industry," he explains, citing examples like German reggae/hip-hop act Pete & The Fox and R&B house artist Robert Owens. "We're a little cooler, we're a little more grown-up. When you come to us you're not going to be surrounded by teenagers."

This could be one reason why, according to Garnish, it's particularly difficult to snag a spot in some of the school's courses - especially the electronic music producer class, which has a waitlist in the United Kingdom.

Garnish offers two levels of instruction, each comprising six three-hour DJ classes, that range in price from $299 to $349. (Garnish himself rarely teaches. Hilton and Pennie were exceptions.) The school also has "short courses," such as electronic music production and mixing and mastering, and "long courses," which range from $5,499 to $6,499 and include programs like electronic music producer/performer and sound engineer/music producer.

"In America, we don't really have waitlists per se, since we are kind of new, but in London it's a different story," says Garnish. "We're known all over the U.K. and Europe. We're extremely busy."

Pennie benefited from Hilton's interest in becoming a DJ. "He trained me over the summer because he was out [in L.A. in 2012] training Paris Hilton, and he taught me on the side," says the British-born Pennie, 33. Previously known for styling such high-profile clients as Kate Middleton, Shenae Grimes, Julie Bowen and Kendra Wilkinson, Pennie has quickly made a name for herself as a high-end fashion-oriented DJ. Meanwhile, Hilton reportedly makes $100,000 to $350,000 an hour DJ'ing, and will be spinning for a second summer at the popular club Amnesia in Ibiza, Spain.

"It's incredible what has happened," says Pennie of her success since being taught by Garnish. Some of her recent gigs include the Jimmy Choo launch of its CHOO.08 collection and the Lacoste pool party at Coachella, but she's also a popular pick for private parties in the Hollywood Hills, where she has spun for everyone from One Direction's Harry Styles to Demi Moore. "I've become the go-to L.A. DJ basically, and I'm being dressed by all these fashion designers. It's all thanks to him, because he's such an amazing teacher."


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