Her secret to staying in the game is her vast and ever-expanding music collection. Oona estimates she has approximately 20,000 records—all cataloged, library style, in a storage unit.
“I’d probably own a house by now if I hadn’t spent so much money on music,” Oona says.
Name: Oona Bender
DJ Handle: DJ Oona
Affiliations: Rouge Cat, Trash Disco, Silk
Origin: “I grew a vinyl obsession from a very early age. I was always the kid that ran out to pick up the newest releases by The Beatles or the Stones. Years later, while working at Club West, we wanted to add a DJ night to the schedule. My friends pointed out that I had a lot of vinyl and encouraged me to just do it.”
Story: A part of the Santa Fe music scene since the early ’80s, Oona actually started off playing punk rock.
“I was in this all-girl punk band that morphed into another band called Madonna Moderna, and we played pretty regularly.” Oona tells SFR. “There was this whole cool underground scene back then.”
From her punk rock days, the transition to DJing was fairly gradual, but eventually DJing became her main focus. Oona eventually left her position at Club West and went on to the Cargo Club. There, in 1993, Trash Disco was born.
“It was there that I met Donalee Goodbrod, who eventually opened The Drama Club, which then became The Paramount,” she says.
Oona continued to hone her DJ skills through The Paramount’s Trash Disco, a name I’ve heard thrown around since I was a lad.
“I was one of two or three DJs back then, though…you’ve got to keep that in mind,” Oona says modestly.
Since then, of course, The Paramount has closed. And, like many other DJs, Oona has made the leap from analog to digital, in large part for convenience.
“It really comes down to whether or not I want to make the trip to the [storage] unit or just download a song I know I’m looking for,” she says.
The medium may have changed, but Oona’s passion for mixing a great set has not.
“I’ll sometimes transition between songs so perfectly that it gives me goose bumps,” she says.
For a DJ to have stuck around this long with a paying gig is impressive. Taking into account Santa Fe’s fickle nature when it comes to music, Trash Disco has enjoyed a level of staying power unlike most other events, but not without work.
“I’m constantly adding new songs and music to Trash Disco, and it always makes me feel like I’m part of a much bigger picture,” Oona says. “It’s really about much more than playing songs I think are cool; I’m trying to create emotions through music here, and I’ll constantly be evolving.”
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