DJ Joe Pacheco reflects on 'cheesy love mixtape' that he spun at Market Days 2021

Mon. August 7, 2023 9:04 AM by Ross Forman

dj joe pacheco returns for market days 2023

photo credit // provided

Pacheco returns to Hydrate Stage on Saturday – then he’s ready for some Chicago deep-dish pizza

DJ Joe Pacheco made his debut spinning at Northalsted Market Days in 2021 and it remains his all-time favorite Chicago session. While on the Hydrate Stage, Pacheco delivered a set that he dubbed “my cheesy love mixtape” for his boyfriend who was in the audience that day. 

“If you listen closely to the song choices in my set, you can tell which songs were directed towards him. Some of the songs I played were Kylie’s ‘Love At First Sight,’ Brian McKnight’s ‘Back At One,’ and our song, Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With

Somebody,’” Pacheco said. “We made it official right after my set in the backstage area, and we will be celebrating our two-year anniversary this August at Market Days.”

The 41st Northalsted Market Days (August 12-13) is a 2-day live music street festival in the Lakeview area commonly called Boystown, with an all-day lineup of music and DJs on five stages, drag performers, 150+ vendors, food and drink, dance exhibitions, and more.

Market Days is expected to draw more than 100,000 people and is ranked among the top 10 Chicago festivals by BizBash.

“I love visiting Chicago because it reminds me a lot of home, New York City,” Pacheco said. “Chicago is a major city with an edge. Also, there are so many great people who I’m lucky to call family who live in Chicago. Market Days really feels like a family reunion.”

Pacheco hits the ViiV Healthcare’s Hydrate Stage at Halsted and Cornelia on Saturday, August 12, starting at 5:30 p.m.

“Performing on the Hydrate stage is a very special experience. The crowd that attends Market Days really pays attention to the music you play, and it’s a trait that I love to see in my audiences because I put a great deal of thought and time into structuring my sets. There’s something so validating about playing music that truly connects with your audience.”

Pacheco was last spinning in Chicago this past March – at Hydrate, which he tagged as “a second home.”

“Everyone (at Hydrate) is like family and there’s always such great energy from the crowd,” he said. “I have visited Chicago many times over the years and have always loved it. The friends I’ve made there are some of my closest friends that I’m lucky to travel the world with. Besides the incredible people I’ve met, it’s the pizza that keeps me coming back. There’s nothing like a Chicago deep-dish pizza after Market Days weekend.

“It’s the people who make Chicago parties amazing. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the energy is a very important factor when deciding who to share my time with. Chicago is composed of people with great energy, (which is) once of the main reasons I look forward to turning it in Chicago when I do.”

Related: Market Days Weekend events and parties

Pacheco, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, is a resident DJ for Meat in New York City and AWOL in Columbus. He has been spinning for eight years.

“It started with a trip I took to Miami with my best friends,” Pacheco said. “It was Labor Day weekend in 2015 and we had gone to Urge Miami with Paulo and Jackinsky playing at Mansion. It was the first event I had gone to with that level of production and was blown away by the experience. At that moment, I stepped foot outside of Mansion, told my friends that I have no clue how to DJ, but the moment I get back to New York I will figure it out and see where this goes. It’s funny to see how this kiki became a career and I’m glad it did because it has changed my life completely. Not many can say they love what they do, but I’m grateful that I can.”

Pacheco enjoys watching his regular TV shows when not spinning or prepping for a show. He also enjoys cooking and often tries new dishes.

But music preparation is an ongoing process.

“It’s crucial that you always present a fresh sound and put your best foot forward with each new event. When I’m home during the week, I search for new music on different websites or working on music production,” he said. “Once I’ve updated my library, I create a playlist I feel best fits the brand or event I am performing for. Reading the room is quintessential; it’s important to understand the brand you are working for because each party has its own set of expectations and needs. Creating the right atmosphere with the right selection of music is what separates a DJ who plays cute music and a DJ who is at the top of the game. That said, acknowledging the city you are in through music can be a magical moment because the crowd always appreciates cultural references.”

Case in point: Pacheco recently performed in Toronto for Pride and “it was beautiful to see the audience singing to House of Lab’s remix of Celine Dion’s ‘pour que tu m’aimes’ encore. I may not understand French, (but) I knew it was an opportunity to connect with my audience in a memorable way, and it’s these moments that inspire me.”


Away From Music: “Making skincare oils and beard butters. It’s fun being able to create your own products from scratch because you know exactly what’s going into them. I never really thought I’d be someone who’d go on this essential oil journey, but I find the process of making a product therapeutic. It’s fun being able to figure out that signature scent to a beard butter,

or a face oil with the right blend of essential oils that target your specific skincare needs. That said, it’s important to have some kind of skincare routine when you live that DJ lifestyle of little sleep and airplanes. Otherwise, you'll age like a banana.”

Upcoming Shows: UNITE! Music Festival in San Diego, Long Beach Pride, Atlanta Pride, and Orange Party in Tampa.

DJs Who You Admire: “I really love watching Anne Louise; not only is her music incredible, but her level of showmanship is truly something special. You can’t help but love how fun and lighthearted she keeps things. I am also a huge fan of J Warren because he knows how to take you on a journey; I really admire how he bridges the gap between electronic dance music genres and offers this scene a beautiful fusion of sounds, which in my opinion is the future of the scene.”

Giving Thanks: “I’m grateful to many of the DJs who have been helpful in my journey as a DJ; some of those are J Warren, Isis Muretech, Nina Flowers, Sam Gee, Dan Slater, Mike James and Brett Oosterhaus.”

Favorite Chicago Tourist Destination: “I love exploring Boystown; there’s always such vibrant life on North Halsted Street. Trips are usually short when I come to Chicago, but I do my best to make the most of my time there.”

Airplanes … Aisle or Window Seats: “I like to be next to the window because I like to avoid being hit by people moving down the aisle.” 

Now Boarding: “There have been times I would love to go back to Rio de Janeiro; there’s just something about Brazil that is so different from anywhere I’ve been. The country itself is beautiful, but what struck me most were the people and how they live life to the fullest. Life is short, so we may as well live our best lives, with no regret.”

Superstitions: “I believe in energy and feel that the energy you put out into the universe truly manifests in other forms. This guides my words, thoughts and actions; there’s so much negativity in the world, so I try my best to give nothing but good vibes because I do feel our energy is infectious.”

Funniest DJ Moment: “One of my (favorite) moments was playing my mix of ‘Baby Shark’ for World Pride in New York City in 2019. I had been wearing rainbow Mickey Mouse ears during my set, and when the mix went into the ‘Baby Shark’ moment, I disappeared under the booth and popped back up with a blow-up shark and danced all over the stage with it and made it a moment. I’m sure some people absolutely hated my antics, and others lived for it. What I do know is that the moment was a memorable one. After all, it’s a party; we’re here to have fun!” 

Follow Joe Pacheco on Instagram. Listen to Joe Pacheco on SoundCloud.

Related: DJ Sam Gee set for return to Market Days