Meet some of the Holy City's fiercest DJs 

Turning the Tables

Page 2 of 4

click to enlarge MICHAEL CAMPINA
  • Michael Campina

DJ Tuff Girl

Real Name: Kristin Halvorson
Genre: Dance, Breakbeat, Punk
Likely to find her spinning at: Tin Roof

Clichés about DJs are a dime a dozen. Images of burned-out, tank top-clad Deadmau5 fans that peaked the year they could buy alcohol are easy to come by. Obviously, it's not the reality, and DJs like Kristin Halvorson are walking proof. Twenty-three years into her tenure as a record-spinner, Halvorson's become a hobbyist in subverting expectation. The encyclopedic music knowledge she kicks for fun has led her to the usual DJ venues (clubs, raves, house parties), but how many DJs can say they've opened up for punk bands Agent Orange and Guttermouth?

The beginning of Halvorson's DJ career is found in the center of music geek church, a.k.a. the record store. "I've been collecting records since I was in fourth grade," she says. The elementary school vinyl devotee didn't know it at the time, but she was priming her future self to become DJ Tuff Girl.

Location Details The Tin Roof
The Tin Roof
1117 Magnolia Road
West Ashley
Charleston, SC
(843) 571-0775
Dinner, Late Night, & Sun. Lunch
Hot Dog Joints, Bar and Music Venue

Over the years, her number of vinyl crates began to swell. And, thanks to an encounter with her roommate's DJ-ready turntable, she began putting those shelves of records to good use. "I started in 1994," says Halvorson. "The '90s was huge for the club scene." After relocating to Charleston in 1996, DJ Tuff Girl found a home in the Liquid Lounge. She was one of the now-defunct hotspot's weekly DJs, rotating record after record for waves of club kids. That's not to mention the raves, the parties, and the after parties she was also working. "I kind of miss those days because I don't think there's a lot of dance clubs going on," says Halvorson.

Thanks to her "vinyl junkie" status, Halvorson has the equipment to play to most types of crowds, and it's a skill she's used often. "I was doing primarily breakbeats, '80s, dance, reggae, because I had dreadlocks down to my knees," she says. "I was really into playing dance stuff, but I'm really an old punker from the '80s."

Tuff Girl's proclivity for all things punk led her to Charleston's skate scene in the early 2000s, where her eclectic tastes helped her thrive. "Once a month, we'd throw pay-the-rent parties and it would be all punk-rock bands, and I would DJ in between all of them," says Halvorson. "I'd play punk and metal, and skateboarders are also super into reggae and hip-hop." One of these pay-the-rent parties led to the Agent Orange show, in which the surf-punk legends graced Tuff Girl's very own P.A. system with classics like "Bloodstains." How did they get Agent Orange to play their rent-paying throwdown? The show organizers asked the band nicely.

As if her musical repertoire and scene involvement wasn't enough of a mixed bag, the DJ daylights in College of Charleston's history department as an Egyptologist. The busy schedule provided by the academic world and a perceived lack of dance clubs has Halvorson performing once or twice a year. "My last show was in March at the Tin Roof. It was the after party for the opening of SK8 Charleston," she says. "I do not have a place that I usually perform."

For a seasoned veteran of the DJ scene like Halvorson, it can be tough to not see as many gigs as the old days. "It does bum me out a bit that there are not that many places specifically for dancing," says Halvorson. "If there were more, maybe the dance culture would start thriving again." Until then, Halvorson is hopeful that DJs, especially from her scene, can meet up in the future. "It would be nice to have some old school night where we can throw down some '80s and '90s dance stuff." —Heath Ellison

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