LOWER EAST SIDE — Eight-year old prodigy DJ Kai Song stole the show at DayLife Sunday, spinning tunes on Orchard Street which was transformed into a giant backyard covered in 2,000 square feet of artificial grass.
"I just feel happy that people are sinking into my music," said the DUMBO resident, whose real name is Kai Schlichting, son of DJ Lars Schlichting.
The event, an initiative of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District to attract people and business to the neighborhood, took over Orchard Street from Delancey to Houston streets from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, giving space-starved New Yorkers a massive back yard to enjoy. Even an afternoon thunderstorm didn’t dampen the mood as residents and visitors tried food from local vendors using specially made carts and played classic backyard games such as ping-pong, croquet and badminton.
The junior DJ, who takes his moniker from his mother's maiden name (Song), played outside Tammany Hall, and opened with "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. During his set he played J. Lo's "Dance Again" and "We are Young" by the band Fun, and the eclectic set ended with Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain," according to Kai who said he played more "to the pop side" for the daytime crowd.
"As soon as my dad taught me I just got into to it so quickly, I just can't stop really," said Kai of his DJ skills. He attends school at P.S. 29 and played at their block party on Friday night.
Monica Emmons, 24, from Boston, was among the dozens getting down to Kai's set, and called it "captivating."
"He is playing the best music that people want to hear, that people want to dance to," she said. "I have seen DJs, but nothing compared to this little guy."
The BID did not keep official numbers on attendance, but estimated DayLife surpassed their goal of 7,500 people for the day.
"DayLife was successful beyond our wildest imagination," wrote the BID's executive director Bob Zuckerman in an email after the event. "Some of the merchants who were part of the festival told us that today was their single best day ever since they've been in business."
Residents and businesses alike praised the DayLife initiative, which is a pilot program for the LES BID and could become a regular occurrence, according to the BID.
"We are just out here to show New York what Orchard Street has to offer in terms of style, fashion and food," said Chantae Vetrice, 27, who works at the store Any Old Iron on Orchard Street. She set up shop in one of the specialty wooden push carts the LES BID built for the event.
Vetrice was pushing wares from the store such as a huge plastic chain necklace that had a Nintendo game console attached to it.
Local resident Jay Frank, 41, brought his family to Orchard Street and were enjoying the street furniture that lined the strip.
"What could be better than hanging out with the kids, eating pizza?" he said. "They should do this more often."
The day was not without hiccups. A thunderstorm arrived earlier than expected dousing festivalgoers in a deluge.
"New Yorkers are resilient, and after the first rain event, people came back to the event in huge numbers to shop, eat and enjoy themselves," wrote Zuckerman.