Austin’s favorite DJ Cassie Shankman shares her top Crestview spots.
By Courtney Runn, Photos by Keelyn Costello
It’s not a party until DJ Cassandra shows up. Cassie Shankman, known as DJ Cassandra when she’s spinning, studied music composition at the University of Texas, and after a decade of different music-related roles, quit her job last year to be a fulltime DJ.
“There’s so much potential for what a DJ and a musician can do, and I think it’s really fun that I’ve been able to explore that and then share it with other musicians,” she says. “There are DJs for yoga, there are DJs for flotation tanks…There’s so much potential for more than just a night club.”
Despite throwing dance parties for a living, Shankman doesn’t hide the stressful parts of the gig. Hauling heavy gear, combined with long hours on her feet, takes a toll on her body; exerting so much social energy can take a toll on her emotions and mental health. She also navigates a male- dominated field with few female peers and mentors.
“Having been in music for forever, I’ve always been surrounded by mostly men. My first day at UT, it was all men. There was one other woman and she was a master’s student and I was a first-year undergrad, so I was very intimidated,” Shankman says. “But seeing her helped me a lot. I never thought until I got older how much seeing another female in a male-dominated industry helped.”
Though she is sometimes paid less than male DJs for the same gigs, hears comments like, ‘Oh you don’t look like a DJ,’ and gets mistaken for the DJ’s girlfriend when she’s loading up her gear, Shankman hasn’t let the obstacles of a male-dominated field stop her from pursuing a job she loves. She’s a regular on the event circuit and you can often find her at women’s empowerment events, blasting Lizzo and Kacey Musgraves.
“I don’t think of myself as a female DJ,” Shankman says. “I think of myself as a DJ who specializes in heavily female-centric events.”
Shankman shares some of her favorite neighborhood spots to visit when she’s off the job.
101 N. Loop Blvd. E
“I just recently starting coworking out of [The Commune] and it’s really helped change my workflow a lot. It’s been a lifesaver to me honestly…It’s female-owned and it also is focused [on] artists.”
5700 Grover Ave.
“I have crazy anxiety and I know [that sounds] weird as a DJ. You’re around a lot of social stuff, so I exert a lot of energy for that, then I get really exhausted. So [it’s nice] to be able to be in a space where there are no expectations. I think it’s very comfortable and very reflective of Austin.
Rock N Roll Rentals
8335 Burnet Rd.
“I spend a lot of time at Rock n Roll Rentals because I’m always renting out gear. I actually love hanging out there because the people who work there are really fun. I feel very accepted there, too. We can talk about a bunch of different gear, we can talk about different things that have come in, we can talk about how different gear works for different gigs. I’ve been going there for so long now and we have a very good relationship. It feels like a family, which is cool.”
5501 N. Lamar Blvd.
“I go there every week. It’s my favorite place. They’re so nice there; the owner is the coolest.”
Lala’s Little Nugget
2207 Justin Ln.
“Lala’s is straight-up awesome. It’s an incredible neighborhood bar [that] instantly puts a smile on your face. I can walk there and hang out with my dog on the patio. I’m always meeting someone new and interesting. Like, what other cities do you know that have a year-round Christmas bar? It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it always makes me feel welcomed when I’m feeling overwhelmed and too serious.”