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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

For her DJ pseudonym, Cici Ochoa combined her middle name, Ivanna, with the word that describes her point of view—that music is love.

Ivanna Love will be closing out the American Cancer Society’s 24-Hour Dance Party, during the afternoon tea-dance portion of the event on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Ochoa, who lives in La Quinta, has been DJing publicly since 2011, but she spent many years of honing her skills before she felt up to the task.

“I learned to DJ in my bedroom, and after doing that for so many years, I just was like, ‘You know what? I think I need to get out there,’” Ochoa said. “Music has always been a huge passion of mine. After a while, I knew it was something I had to pursue. The love for music is just so central to my life that I need to be able to get people to feel the rhythm that I hear. I just want to share it with everyone.”

Inspired by trance artists such as Armin Van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, ATB and Tiësto, Ochoa’s sound is energetic, funky, delightful and undoubtedly great for dancing. Ochoa said she believes that while anyone could become a DJ, only great artists can create a signature sound.

“The signature sound is what makes it unique,” said Ochoa. “… For a DJ to take you into another place is remarkable. I think it has a lot to do with the DJ having a symbolic sound to captivate the crowd.”

She admitted that it was a tedious process for her to find her own sound.

“It was nerve-racking,” Ochoa said. “You don’t know how people are going to take what it is you’re playing out there. … It really takes courage to go out there and be original.”

Her first gig outside of her bedroom was at the now-defunct Space 120 in Palm Springs, in January 2011. She’s done DJ gigs at various fashion shows, and for the International School of Beauty. An appearance at the Hue Music and Arts Festival in Coachella back in April may have been her best gig to date, she said.

“For me, being able to close the set for that, it was just inspiring, because I got to see kids just take in an amazing reaction to what I was putting out there,” Ochoa said. “I’ve always said this: Children are the future of music. I think it’s really important for them to get the vibe of Coachella and artists who stick themselves out constantly to make them feel a sensational moment of dance music.

Joining her on the tea-dance bill will be another local DJ, All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington), and Canadian singer Angie Whitney. She is elated and has nothing but accolades for Harrington’s “Tropic Trance” sound.

“I have always been drawn to (Alex’s) style. His vocals and synths are very captivating and soothing,” Ochoa said. “I am so excited to be playing with him at the tea dance. Great energy will definitely be brought to the stage.”

When Ochoa was approached by the American Cancer Society to take part in the event, she was quick to say yes, inspired by her vision that music is love, and because she knows people who have fought cancer—including some who have lost the battle.

I had a strong instinct that this was going to be right up my alley,” Ochoa said. “Overall, I feel like a tea dance (should have) overall feel-good music. Everyone can just get together, dance and have a great time. I do want to say: Prepare yourself; just let go; be free; and go with the rhythm of the beat. It’s going to be a huge success.”

The tea-dance portion of the Relay for Life Palm Springs’ 24 Hour Dance Party begins at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive. The whole party begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2. Admission is $20; cancer survivors are admitted for free; attendees may re-enter. The event is an alcohol- and tobacco-free event, though cocktails will be available at other parts of the Riviera during alcohol-serving hours. To donate, create a team or receive more information, call 760-568-2691, ext. 3, or visit relayforlife.org/palmspringsca.

If you are a cancer survivor or are currently battling cancer, and need support, services or simply someone to talk to, call 800-227-2345. The line is open 24/7. You can also visit cancer.org for more information.

Published in Previews

Since 1985, the American Cancer Society has held Relay for Life fundraising events in thousands of cities across the world.

But as far as local organizers know, there’s never been a Relay for Life quite like the one taking place next Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs.

The Relay for Life formula is fairly tried and true: People form teams, gather pledges, and then take turns walking or running around a track (at a high school, for example) for a certain time period—often 24 hours. Spectators and supporters can show up and buy items from the various teams, each of which has a table set up. The proceeds go to the American Cancer Society—and those proceeds can be substantial: Cathedral City’s Relay for Life generally raises around $80,000 per year, and little Yucca Valley’s garners $100,000, said Jennifer Heggie, the local ACS Relay for Life manager.

“They are amazing up there in the high desert,” Heggie said. “They’re super-dedicated to the cause.”

However, Palm Springs’ Relay for Life—the first held within the town’s city limits in a decade or so, Heggie said—won’t follow this successful formula. Instead, this Relay for Life is going to be a dance party.

From 5 p.m. on Friday to 5 p.m. on Saturday, the grand ballroom at the Riviera will be the setting for a 24 Hour Dance Party. For $20, attendees can come and go, all the while enjoying a wide range of entertainment including a swing-dance class, line-dancing, a drag show hosted by the ubiquitous Bella da Ball, and, of course, tons of great music from well-known DJs from Southern California and the Coachella Valley (including friend of the Independent Alex Harrington, aka All Night Shoes).

Heggie said the goal for this year’s Palm Springs Relay for Life is $25,000 (and money can be raised through Aug. 31). On one hand, that’s a modest amount when compared to the fundraising done in other desert cities (such as the aforementioned Relay for Life events in Cathedral City and Yucca Valley). On the other hand, that’s not a bad haul for a brand-new event.

“It’s hard to ask a town that’s starting a new event to raise $80,000,” she explained.

Since this is also a brand-new type of event, Heggie said she’s had problems fitting the 24 Hour Dance Party into the Relay for Life paradigm. For example, all of the standard marketing materials from the ACS have to do with … well, walking or running and tracks and whatnot.

“With this concept, we don’t necessarily have a track; we have a dance floor,” she said. “We kind of slightly leaned away from the team concept to be a little more inclusive.”

Of course, locals can still put together teams and “relay” their dancing throughout the night and day—in fact, Heggie said that arrangement is “ideal” in terms of fundraising. According to the local Relay for Life website, as of this writing, 13 teams with a total of 37 participants have already raised almost $11,000—a number which is sure to rise. Teams will each get a table to decorate and sell non-food items, like glow sticks, beads and boas, to raise extra money. (As for food, that will be available via the Riviera; Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Desserts has also donated delicious goodies for purchase.)

If the 24 Hour Dance Party is successful—and considering it’s a kick-ass dance party with great entertainment and a moderate cover charge, why shouldn’t it be?—the concept could be picked up by other communities, Heggie said.

But despite the morph from track-relay event to dance-party event, this is still a Relay for Life, and most of the Relay for Life traditions remain intact.

First and foremost, Relay for Life has always been about honoring and celebrating cancer survivors, just as much as the events have been about raising money. Thus, all cancer survivors are invited to attend the event for free, and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, the event will include a three-course dinner for survivors and a caregiver. (Attendees need to register for the dinner by Thursday, Aug. 1, via the Relay for Life website or by calling the ACS’ Palm Desert Office; the number can be found below. Survivors who want to attend the dance party but not the dinner do not need to preregister.)

“The survivors open the relay,” Heggie said. “They do the first lap … so this means they’ll do the first dance.”

The event will feature a luminaria ceremony, led by singer Kris Searle, to honor loved ones whose lives were taken by cancer. And fans of Sissy Bingo at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be happy to know that the legendary Linda Gerard—who is currently in the midst of a heated battle with lung cancer—is scheduled to sing from 8 to 9 p.m. on Friday.

People who can’t attend, of course, are encouraged to donate to the event via the website. Another option to both give and receive: At 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 27 (i.e. the day after this story is posted), Relay for Life will be holding the Little Black Dress and Pearls for a Cause Party at Azul, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive. Tickets for two people are $100, and that ticket includes a buffet, four hours of open bar (we recommend a cab afterward), a silent auction and tons of entertainment, emceed by Bella da Ball. (Seriously: Does Bella ever take a night off?)

In other words: Everyone has a chance to support a great cause while having a great time doing so. So … go do so!

Relay for Life Palm Springs’ 24 Hour Dance Party takes place from 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive. Admission is $20; cancer survivors are admitted for free. The event is an alcohol- and tobacco-free event, though cocktails will be available at other parts of the Riviera during alcohol-serving hours. To donate, create a team or receive more information, call 760-568-2691, ext. 3, or visit relayforlife.org/palmspringsca.

If you are a cancer survivor or are currently battling cancer, and need support, services or simply someone to talk to, call 800-227-2345. The line is open 24/7. You can also visit cancer.org for more information.

Published in Features

Alex Harrington—music fans know him as All Night Shoes—says that in the world of electronic music, it’s hard to stay unique.

Harrington hesitates when I ask him how he would define his music, which blends ambient and dance music together with a hint of Daft Punk.

“I’ve been referring to it as ‘tropical house,’” Harrington says. “I don’t like to put labels on myself, but if I had to put a label on myself, that’s what I would define it as.”

The 26-year-old La Quinta resident who once played acoustic-guitar performances in local coffee houses always had a desire to make electronic music. He saved his money to purchase the equipment he needed and made the transition a year ago. He makes his music on a MacBook with Logic Pro software and uses various keyboards and synthesizers.

Alex’s initial challenge was to create a sound of his own.

“The challenge is actually trimming down the influence I put in my songs,” he says. “Often times, for me, I love the genres. … But to get them to work together is where it’s a challenge.”

Over the past year, as Alex continued to develop his own songs and remixes, he has found himself generally unconcerned about sounding like too much like his influences while trying to stay original.

“I didn’t think I started to sound like Daft Punk, Brian Eno, Moby and all my other influences until about six months ago, because you just start to enjoy your own music, and you start notice the influences coming in naturally in your own music,” he says

Alex is aggressive in terms of how he produces his music as an independent artist; he’s a passionate believer in social media and utilizes it to connect with other local artists with whom he can collaborate. He’s driven and motivated to manage his own music, noting the advantage of being in business for himself and therefore collecting 70 to 90 percent of his own royalties.

Alex’s talent as a producer comes into play when he finds himself working with other artists.

“With social media, it’s very easy to reach out to other artists. I ask my friends who are artists if they want to be on my tracks. It’s really just about working with as many people as possible and being open-minded. The way I look at it, if I’m working with a new artist who isn’t that polished, it’s a challenge for me to get them to that point for my song. I think there’s a beauty in that, because you can help make each other better.”

Alex’s hard work has managed to pay off. In August 2012, he released his first EP, Crystal Son, via iTunes; he released his follow-up EP, Frisco in February, which he says is a nod to his Northern California roots. (Scroll down to hear the song “Frisco.”)

While he continues to evolve as an artist, he aspires to be in commercial production and to play in more clubs. He’s also currently working on new material titled Pacific Dreams that he hopes to release in May.

His first live performance will be on Saturday, April 6, at The Hue Music and Arts Festival at Dateland Park in Coachella.

“The way I see it, every band and DJ playing The Hue is bringing something different,” he says.

He mentions the diversity of the festival with some of the bands playing, specifically mentioning Ivanna Love.

“She’s played at some of the clubs in Palm Springs. She’s pretty (big) in the LGBT culture here, which is really cool, because having an artist like that represented in The Hue Festival shows how eclectic it’s going to be.”

All Night Shoes will play Saturday, April 6 at The Hue Music and Arts Festival at Dateland Park, 84521 Bagdad Ave., in Coachella; admission is free. For more on All Night Shoes, visit soundcloud.com/allnightshoes.

Published in Previews

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