DJ Lizz Brings the Fun and Music to Special Moments

Photo by Wezz De La Rosa/Hola Iowa

By Christina Fernández-Morrow, Hola Iowa

Growing up, Liz Sayasane danced along when her dad played the guitar and piano to disco, 70’s hits, and songs composed by her uncle. It’s no surprise that she taught herself how to DJ and turned her passion into a business. “I’ve always been surrounded by all types of music. I grew up listening to lots of types of music and it expanded my palate for what I like to listen to and play.” When dancing at Latin clubs and salsa nights she noticed the limited variety of the genres of music. She began experimenting with DJ programs on her computer and paying closer attention to what made people get up and dance. She knew a few DJs who played at events and clubs around Central Iowa and asked them questions to learn more. She was offered a few gigs to DJ after-hours and used those events to practice. When her friend opened a club, he invited her to play on a regular basis. She began shadowing another friend who was the DJ for Latin Night at The Saddle every Thursday. She learned about the software and professional equipment to elevate her sets. She devoted hours to exploring and researching. After a particularly packed house at the grand opening of her friend’s club, Sayasane stood out from among the DJs. “The fact that I was a female DJ, people were curious about me, and I think it opened a lot of doors.” That event led to invitations to work at other events and unofficially kicked off her DJ career. 

While Latino-owned clubs come and go in Central Iowa, Sayasane stayed in demand by diversifying her target audience. Instead of following clubs, she focused on private events. “I love being a part of people’s special day, whether it be a wedding, quinceañera, a graduation; sharing in their happiness and being part of their family for a day is something I really enjoy.” As her reputation excelled, she felt bad when her calendar didn’t allow for her to take on events. “If I was already booked or not able to help them for whatever reason, it was sad. I didn’t know other DJs for private events, except for one who I could recommend.” Sayasane began thinking about creating a business where she could work with DJs around the state who offered the same high-quality attention to detail as she did. “Club DJing is very different than private events. It’s important to provide a higher level of service because people spend thousands on decorations and the venue for their special day. You need a more professional aesthetic. You can’t have loose cables and dirty tablecloths. You need to create a polished area and present yourself the way you would as a guest. You can’t be an eye sore at their event.” Her company, Latino Events Entertainment was born from this commitment to professionalism.


Sayasane spent time scouting events and festivals for DJs with whom she could partner, who already had established reputations. “Reaching out to them was scary. I explained what I was trying to do and what it would entail to be part of the team; the look and expectations I had. I thought there would be more pushback, but I found they really embraced the concept.” Their reactions not only helped boost Sayasane’s confidence but showed her that this kind of initiative was needed for both clients and DJs. “I am a female in a male dominated field. I had to fight to prove myself for many years for people to take me seriously as a DJ. Their acceptance to be on my team meant the world to me. They were all in, one hundred percent, they wanted to be a part of my team and are receptive to my feedback. They’ve been so wonderful to work with.”

Her team covers most of Iowa with a DJ in the Quad Cities, another in Omaha who covers events in western Iowa, one in Bondurant, and soon there will be a DJ in the Waterloo area. Sayasane does all the marketing and takes care of the logistical details with the client before pairing the DJ with the event. She lives by her vision for the company, that they understand culture, traditions, and music for a smooth planning process. Her team covers the event with a clear understanding of what the client wants and what Sayasane expects. Their primary focus is making sure the event has a fun vibe and flow so that the entertainment runs smoothly. This has led to reoccurring bookings at high-profile events like one at the Des Moines Art Center, where Sayasane met the late Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray’s grandson, who booked her for his wedding. It came as a sweet surprise to Sayasane who didn’t know his family at the time he approached her. When she met with the couple to plan their entertainment, she learned that Ray’s grandson was marrying the granddaughter of the first Asian refugee Governor Ray helped bring to Iowa. Those are the kinds of stories Sayasane loves most. She even pays homage to it on her website where she describes her business as, “a team of professional bilingual (English-Spanish) DJs that cater to the modern, multicultural couple looking for the perfect music balance for an unforgettable night.” For Sayasane, some of the most memorable events are the ones where cultures come together to celebrate love through the music she provides. As a self-proclaimed “helpless romantic,” she says that “being in the presence of love always gets me. It’s an honor to be part of it.” While events like that are what she loves most about her business, there are still plenty of challenges.

“Time is the biggest challenge. I still have a full-time job. I decided to go for a promotion at the same time as I was expanding the business. Many times, there were no days off.” Sayasane, who is also raising a preschooler, two college students and is a newlywed, credits her family with her success. “I don’t think I could have done any of this without a supportive person at my side, my biggest cheerleader,” she says of her husband, who can often be seen lugging lights, tables, and speakers in and out of events and trade shows. Sometimes he brings their 4-year-old who gets caught up in the music and can’t help but dance along as her mother cranks out beats. Seeing little girls dancing provides an extra push to keep doing what she’s doing. “I hope little girls who see me working events know they can do it, too.” She currently knows of one other Latina DJ in Iowa and hopes they can collaborate one day. “This is what I’m passionate about, working with my community, Latino events and representing our culture.”


As she looks to making Latino Events Entertainment her full-time focus, Sayasane is excited for the future of Latinas in business. “If you have a passion for something or see a need in your community for a product or service you can offer, follow your passion and do it. Don’t be scared. Ask for help and reach out to those who are doing it. Nobody knows it all so use your network to help you succeed.”

JEFAS Magazine is a collaboration of writers, photographers, social media managers, editors, translators, and designers from across Illinois, Iowa and the Midwest – all of whom are Latinx. It is the first magazine created by the Latinx community, for the Latinx community that focuses on how they are boosting the economy, giving back, and filling the gap between what is needed and what is available in the state. 


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