Three’s company: DJ Barbi on raising a family and biking in the ‘burbs

Barbi & son (1)

The following is an exert from the latest issue of dandyhorse

Three's company: DJ Barbi on raising a family and biking in the 'burbs

Story and photos by Claire McFarlane

When you hear of a world class DJ, a veteran of Toronto’s underground music scene, who has been hired for celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Matthew McConaughey and Guns ‘n’ Roses (to name a few), you probably wouldn’t expect a tricycle-riding suburban mom. Barbi Castelvi Gomes is challenging the traditional notion of what it means to be a working mom and she’s doing it on three wheels.

On top of her weekend DJ engagements, Castelvi runs a music school out of her Pickering home and studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She also runs a music production company with her husband, Mitchell Gomes. In her spare time she loves riding her tricycle along the waterfront with her husband and Xavier, her son.

Castelvi’s tricycle was a birthday present her husband gave her years ago when they still lived downtown. The trike (which apparently cost a pretty penny) offers her a kind of comfort she doesn’t get on a twowheel bike. “To be honest, I am terrible on a two-wheel bike,” says Castelvi. She was badly hurt in a bike accident as a child and has had trouble getting back in the saddle. “It’s psychological, I think.” And so her trike provides her with riding options she wouldn’t otherwise have. It has a wider saddle, that she says allows for longer rides, and a roomy back basket that can transport everything she needs for a good picnic; cooler and all.

In Castelvi’s opinion, most cyclists in Pickering ride recreationally to explore the numerous trails and waterfront paths that surround the suburb. She doesn’t deny the existence of a car culture where she lives, but she does insist that cycling in her neighborhood is very safe. In fact, Castelvi feels Toronto’s downtown core is less safe for cyclists: “There are some nasty drivers out there that don’t like to share the road.” Still, she says that GO transit could do more to accommodate suburban cyclists. Adding room on the trains for more (and bigger) bikes and more secure bike parking at GO stations would be a start.

Castelvi’s cycling habits and her career choices both involve taking something that a lot of people do, and doing it her own way; turning it into something unique. Castelvi says she still gets the old, “Wow I’ve never seen a female DJ before that is so good.” To which she responds: “Well yes, I better be good, I better have skills, I’ve been doing this for a while now.” Despite her skills, her qualifications and her years of experience, Castelvi still notices that she is treated differently than her male counterparts. “There are so many weak DJs out there, male and female, so when there is a really good female DJ we do get put up on a pedestal.” Of course, she realizes she works in what is still a male-dominated industry.

Castelvi, however, does find equity in her own home. She and Gomes have an efficient partnership that allows them to run a business, maintain their home and raise their son. Xavier is always their top priority. The five-year-old, who has recently gotten a taste for modelling, loves riding around on his ninja turtle bike.

With Castelvi’s music school, SOUNDCASTLE, blooming, she hopes to continue to use her experience in early childhood music education to teach her music, and music and movement, curriculum to young kids and eventually expand her program to teach it to seniors. And, of course, she plans to keep encouraging people to shred it on the dance floor.

three's company


Related on the dandyBLOG:

Vision Zero: A road safety plan for Toronto

Desmond Cole on Policing Public Space

Heels on Wheels: Lucy DeCoutere

A New Image for Toronto: Pedestrian priority combined with a transit right-of-way

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