“I throw parties for a living. I jump up on stage, get everyone excited about having a good time and we have a dance party. You wonder, ‘How the hell did MC prepare me for this?’”
Though very little of it made sense at the time, Adriana Roberts’ undergraduate experience at Marietta College was a roadmap to her career as the owner and CEO of Bootie Mashup, an international company that throws nightclub and mashup dance parties.
For starters, Roberts came to Marietta determined to create her own major: creative media. She gravitated to creative projects — she wrote and created her own video and film projects, hosted a radio show and a cable-access show, and worked in the theatre. Her work study job was in the College Relations Office, where she learned graphic design. As the McDonough Leadership Program was still in its early years, she paid attention to the business and leadership tones that permeated from the newly established program into other academic programs. And, of course, at the core of her liberal arts education was a strong focus on written and oral communication.
When Roberts graduated from Marietta, she had been involved in so many different programs and extracurricular groups that she had keys to just about every academic building on campus. Though she settled into a Radio/Television major, an Art minor and a Communication Certificate, it was graphic design that would carry her through the early part of her career after she graduated.
“Everybody at MC thought I was going to move to Hollywood and become a famous director,” she says. Roberts did move to California to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California — but her time at USC was short-lived. “I’m from Ohio and there was plenty of [financial aid] for me. USC was a rich kid school and I just couldn’t afford it. I went to San Francisco to visit a friend and then eventually I moved there.”
For years, she worked as a graphic designer, but the pull to do something else was growing. That “something else” would require her to focus all that she learned at Marietta College and
apply it to what she was passionate about: bringing a vibrant and new experience into the nightclub scene. Roberts’ DJ skills, blended with her theatre experience, strong communication skills and marketing ability, transformed into a high-energy, entertainment company that is based in San Francisco. Bootie Mashup employs a team of DJs from around the world.
“This is such an interdisciplinary career. It’s a confluence of skills that have been weirdly developed during my time at Marietta,” she says.
The pandemic has caused her to switch gears — and even change continents — until the restrictions in California are lifted and people can enjoy packed night clubs and other party venues. Roberts, who has moved to Berlin, Germany, for the foreseeable future, hosts a podcast, radio show, webcasts and virtual Twitch parties.
Flying to Germany brings up another facet of her life that has helped to make others’ lives a bit easier. Roberts, who identifies as a trans feminine woman, is a trans activist and was one of the first people in California to successfully change their gender to “non-binary.” The legislation that was passed in order to offer that identification also included the “X” option in the gender category on her driver’s license. This identification, coupled with educating Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers in airports on transgender identify awareness, allows transgender people to go through airport screenings easier.
“My career and my identity — my day-to-day life — are not wrapped up in gender politics,” she says. “I’m a DJ and an entertainer and a business owner, and I want to normalize (gender rights). Literally, we are only talking about humanizing people. … Awareness is half the battle. Most people are not aware of people other than themselves — whether that’s gender, race, religion. The way that I have chosen to live my life, I always try to lead by example. No soapboxes. I try to be as good as I can to other people.”