Ten years ago Amit Ronal added ‘Shalev’ to his surname, “a continuation of my lifetime search after my truth,” says the owner of Stoa, an events-halland- lounge situated on Kibbutz Gaash.
Tel Aviv resident Ronal-Shalev, 50, originally from Ramat Hasharon, has spent the past 30 years as one of the key figures in the country’s music, DJ and nightlife scene.
In his early 20s he started trying to understand “why I was born,” he says, “searching for a meaning for my life.”
Ronal-Shalev adds that he has “been dealing with that ever since.” He has understood “that actually what I am doing is treating people through music.
It works fantastically at weddings, [with] people from different families and backgrounds connecting. At Stoa we manage to create an atmosphere that will make connections, even if it is only for a few hours, for the duration of the event itself. Our tools are the music, the lighting, the design of the place; all these elements influence the atmosphere and the togetherness.”
How did you get into the world of music? At 13 I started playing music at school and was in charge of the sound at local events. Yehudit Dim, my school principal, encouraged me. Last year we celebrated her 80th birthday at Stoa, and that was closing a circle for me.
When I was young I became a well-known DJ, and managed to pay my own way from a very young age. After my military service I studied to be a sound technician, and eventually called on my two brothers, Ilan and Rany, and together we established Musica Plus. Our company created change, and its name still has impact.
In 1989 we had an idea, to bring the music outside, to the streets. Why dance in basements, if you can dance outside? We contacted the Tel Aviv municipality and were approved. We boiled some punch and took it out to the street, and started with street parties, which later became famous and spread throughout the city.
What did you enjoy about being a DJ? I believe in the power of music to influence people’s wellbeing. It is easy to influence crowds rapidly, and we create some great parties. I can hear in my head what song I need to play next, and I have great success with my audiences.
Being a DJ you get live feedback. Either the people in the crowd are raising their hands, or the dance floor is empty. It became my first tool in my journey of self-discovery. It helped me listen to my intuition and to myself.
How did you enter the events field? I am an entrepreneur, and always need to be involved in new things.
This is what drives me, not money, but moving things from the inside. In 2001 Yoni Saar asked me to join Stoa.
Eventually he, and then my brothers went their own ways, and I became sole owner. I sold Musica Plus two years ago, and I am also a partner in the Shmone party lounge in Tel Aviv.
What is special about Stoa? There is garden with massive trees and there are lounges and a closed hall. The entire place was recently renovated, influenced by the current social movement.
Today’s design is warm and inclusive; we try to make people feel at home. We put out long tables, as for a Shabbat dinner.
But our guests can also decide to adapt the design to their own style.
It appears that you enjoy hosting people.
During the ’90s Michael Stern, an American events producer, started a revolution in this field in Israel. I worked with him a lot, and he told me that we offer a service, and that we should be proud of that. This is the message that I pass on: It is fun to be of service.