International Gay Nightlife Gurus

by Jimmy Im
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Proving dance culture in the gay nightlife scene has an auspicious future, we rounded up five prominent, noise-making trailblazers who are dreaming of tomorrow and taking back the night.

Borja Peña, London, UK

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[A]s the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. London’s gay nightlife scene, however, was beyond repair, and DJ Borja Pena was the ultimatesolution for preservation. The Madrid-born party boy has been a club- ber since his teens, and the natural progression was to hit the decks then promote his own parties, much of which are the hottest, wildest events in Londontown.

“I try to curate a space for likeminded people, somewhere that is friendly and attitude free, where people can express themselves and socialize on a personal level,” says DJ Borja. “I feel that the rise of apps and social media is isolating us and more people that work in creative fields are listening to Top 100 music instead of what other creative types are making. Even at mainstream, big gay festivals, there is a music policy and every-one hears the same track over and over again. So I like to offer something different in East London—a magical place.”

Merging house, electro, EDM, and good ol’ fashion rock, Borja has DJed and thrown events at some of the city’s most incredible bars and clubs (including the legendary Ministry of Sound). A hot commodity (and easy on the eyes), he’s traveled to big events as a guest and head- lining DJ, bringing his signature tunes and followers to world-renowned festivals like Burning Man, Glastonbury, and Folsom in San Francisco. Considering the late nights, DJ Borja never seems to sleep, but he dreams big. He’s a frontman in his band/DJ group The Cucarachas with other notable DJ Tom Stephan. Together, they had the chance to remix the highly acclaimed group Pet Shop Boys.

DJ Borja is not just recognized for reimagining London’s gay nightlife with his racy, progressive-thinking, and hipster-laden parties at notorious watering holes. He’s also graced some of the best clubs and bars in all of Europe, spreading the love to Berlin, Paris, Zürich, Madrid, and other top gay-friendly cities.

But it’s his party Bang at East Bloc where he feels at home with DJ Alex Han, bringing in an underground mix of gays, from circuit boys, dandies, and hipsters to alternative kids.

“It’s a very interesting time for gay nightlife,” says DJ Borja. “Tons of venues are closing and people prefer to go to Grindr and attend sex parties at home to get shitfaced. But somehow there are still faithful people that like to have a good dance and interact with others face to face. Lucky for me, I get to team up with wonderful people who believe in my vision and help me put together a memorable show. I love what I do and there is nothing better than waking up to messages or photos with people telling me how much fun they had at my parties. I feel lucky to be part of a community of people who want everyone to have the best time in their free time! It’s the best feeling, and I love what I do. Someone has to get the party started, right?”

DJ Borja regularly promotes through his Facebook page at www.djborjapena.

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