JSJ Events: The Partying for Social Change Organization You Need to Know About

by Lily Lyons

It’s 9:30 on a Tuesday at the Cellar in Cambridge and something is afoot.  Twenty somethings begin meandering down the stairs as the rock pumping through the speakers is replaced by a DJ conjuring humming synths and pumping beats. Everyone is giggly and effervescent, catching up with old friends at the tables or swaying shyly to the music. It looks like the beginnings of a typical party, but this event—catchily named Pink Noise 001—is about more than dancing and socializing. Everyone is also here to raise money for Clean Water Action, an organization that advocates for safe drinking water and seeking grassroots solutions to environmental problems. Pink Noise 001 is only one of multiple parties that will be thrown this month by JSJ Events, a young organization that fuses live electronic-leaning music with having a good time and supporting local charities.

“I always saw giving to charity as an art form,” JSJ Events founder Jami Sabety-Javid tells me the day before over coffee. As a student in Northeastern’s Human Services Program who lived with Berklee kids, Jami became interested in “bridging the gap between the art of creating and the art of giving and making a space for people to do both at the same time.” While upscale fundraising has historically had music in the background, JSJ Events’ idea of parties for college students that combine music and advocacy for local issues is more unusual. “We’re really trying to bring it back to the community, to get local Boston musicians to fundraise for local Boston organizations,” Jami says. She hopes to provide a concrete way for people engage in activism: “everyone wants to contribute to society in some charitable way, but a lot of people aren’t sure what to do or how to do it. These parties give people that outlet.” It seems like that outlet has been appreciated: after a DIY launch in an Allston basement raising money for Bernie Sanders, JSJ Events has thrown six more parties and shows no signs of stopping.

JSJ Pink Noise 002On a musical level, JSJ Events has booked many genres but is particularly excited about supporting local electronica artists. “I’d love to bring out the electronic music scene more in Boston,” Jami says. She notes that many people “box electronic music into EDM” and that JSJ hopes to break that perception by celebrating all the rich subgenres that electronica has. Berklee is one of the best places to find up-and-coming bands and solo artists who are experimenting with everything from future bass to deep house, and Jami encourages any Groovers who are curious about JSJ Events to get in touch. Past parties have included Berklee acts such as Wessanders, Jake Maxfield and mar|co.

The bravery and entrepreneurship involved in founding an organization is never easy but Jami feels that it’s her team that has helped the parties be successful and JSJ Events take wing. When I ask her advice for making a successful start up her response takes a very human approach: “Most people would say it’s important have a goal and follow that goal. I would say don’t focus on the goal too much: let all the different team members who are involved in making this happen have the creative liberty of doing what they think will make the organization grow.” This philosophy has drawn creatives from many different Boston colleges to work for JSJ, including Berklee student Tori Leche who played the very first Berklee Groove Sessions as part of electronic duo |Fifty | Fifty|. It has also caused many electric moments at the parties including one where a couple girls did art installations on the ceilings. “I want to create this community feeling where whoever wants to get involved and create is more than welcome,” Jami muses.

Back at the Cellar the music is beginning to speed up and the house is getting full. As I watch from the corner of my eye while perched at a table with my friend, I notice that there’s a sense of warmth amongst the parties goers that one doesn’t often see in a club. I’m reminded of something Jami said the day before: “We’ve become a group of friends who just love to do this project together.” While social change inevitably involves getting uncomfortable and questioning the complex nuances of issues, I feel like giving to charity can be a small way to begin that process. If that is the case, then organizations like JSJ Events should be encouraged and normalized. As Jami puts it: “I’d really love to see a world where this happens more often, where people are integrating giving into daily activities and events.”