There are many reasons gay clubs are more fun than straight ones (no matter your sexual orientation), but the most significant has to do with the unifying magic of the dance floor. Yeah, it’s nice to be a straight chick unconcerned with a random dude hitting on you as you writhe together soaked in sweat and flashing lights, just as it can be cool to be queer and possibly hook up in the same scenario, if that’s what you’re looking for.
But in my experience covering clubs for a couple decades now, it’s not about sex. In general, dance floors are where we let go of our minds and let our bodies take over. At gay clubs, the dance floors always seem to be just a bit more joyous, a bit more expressive and, with some exceptions, a lot more open. As GBLT equality is slowly but surely being fought for and won, this vibe is less novel than it once was, but it is still something to honor and appreciate.
It’s no coincidence that DJ Josh Peace has been helming the decks at L.A. clubs that embody this inclusiveness at its most potent and creative. The Norwalk native not only has impeccable selector and mixer skills, but he really feels what he plays — and the dance floor obviously feels it, too. Peace will be spinning at no fewer than five L.A. Pride–related parties this weekend, running the gamut from a splashy bash with Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier to the return of mega-bash Mr. Black at Union.
The dance floor at Mustache Mondays (formerly at La Cita, now at the Lash) is where I got my first taste of Peace’s pump ’n’ thump party grinders, and it’s where he made a name for himself in the gay scene (he played at straight clubs, mostly in the O.C., before that). Mustache helped put downtown on the map for artier homo contingents. “When we started Mustache, there was nothing else queer happening in downtown at all, and now there’s three full-on, full-time gay bars in the neighborhood — and they’re all awesome in their own unique way,” Peace tells me after a long night deejaying at Redline, one of DTLA's hot gay spots. “People are calling the area 'the Pink Triangle.' I still play in WeHo here and there, but most of my local bread is now buttered in the downtown/Eastside area.”
West Hollywood can get a bad rap, but there is no denying the strength of community there and the infectious energy of its bar and club scene. Still, for some, the area has long represented the shallow side of gay nightlife, something they could not relate to or live up to. “Downtown has so much gay history that it makes sense that it would be the new epicenter of queer Los Angeles," Peace says. "It's filled a gap for a lot of people who wanted something that wasn’t as looks-driven at West Hollywood but also not as seedy as some of the Silver Lake bars can be.”
Mustache Mondays, which will have its 10th anniversary next year, is a testament to promoter Nacho Nava's "incredible level of curating and taste," Peace says — and "it still blows my mind."
"At the risk of sounding smug, it's kind of become nonchalant for us when Maluca texts us that she’s bringing Robyn by to do a surprise performance of their single 'Love Is Free' together," he says. "Playing Queen Latifah’s 'Come Into My House' while she was in the booth with me was another gag-worthy moment. I just about had a heart attack one week when a friend pointed out that within the small group of girls dancing in front of my booth, one just happened to be Florence Welch. I instantly went into panic mode, like, 'OMG, what do I play for Florence Welch? WTF do I play?' It turns out she knows every word to Grace Jones' 'Pull Up to the Bumper' and can drop it very low to Beyoncé’s 'Partition.'”
Though Peace started out as a house DJ, his style is as diverse as the crowd that digs it, fusing old-school jams from the ’80s and ’90s, hip-hop and trap and freaky, funky house, new and old. “I’ve never really been able to pinpoint exactly what kind of DJ I am,” he says. “Nowadays I don’t box myself into any one genre anymore, because they’ve all become pretty fluid to me. It doesn’t really affect me if I’m playing a hip-hop record that’s 90 beats per minute or a pumping house track that’s 128. I see the line that connects them all. I’m a dancer at heart, so my main objective is always to make people dance and also to make myself dance.”
He says of his visceral, vivacious sets: "I feel like an orchestra conductor when I’m playing, manipulating all of these different variables to achieve the desired outcome, which is for you to lose your mind on my dance floor.”
The busy beatsmith will be playing his signature mixes at a some high-profile events this weekend in conjunction with L.A. Pride. "Pride weekend isn’t about the festival," he says. "It's about the queer community coming together and celebrating our amazing journey and reflecting on how far we still have to go. This is why it's important for us to celebrate Pride. We are survivors, and we are still surviving together.”
Here's where to see Josh Peace spin this weekend:
Sat., June 11
The Abbey: 692 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; 3-6 p.m.; theabbeyweho.com
Consent at Redline: Special Madonna tribute night featuring Venus D’Lite and Rudeness. 131 E. Sixth St., downtown; 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; facebook.com/events/509192909287511
Sun., June 12
Kim Anh's Pride Pool Party at the Standard: With Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite. 8300 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; facebook.com/events/1783287865224378
Pride Closing Party at Revolver Video Bar: 8851 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; revolverweho.com
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Mon., June 13
Mustache Mondays at the Lash: 117 Winston St., downtown; facebook.com/MUSTACHEMONDAYS
Los Angeles native Lina Lecaro has been covering L.A. nightlife since she started as a teen intern at L.A. Weekly (fake ID in tow) nearly two decades ago. She went on to write her own column, "Nightranger," for the print edition of the Weekly for six years. Read her "Lina in L.A." interviews for the latest nightlife news, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
More from Lina Lecaro:
Goths, Galleries and Gentrification: The Year in L.A. Nightlife
Everyone From L7 to Nirvana (Yes, That Nirvana) Played '90s DIY Venue Jabberjaw
A Q&A With Gun N' Roses' Duff McKagan