The Word On Art

Sonic Guardians: DJs Shaping San Diego’s LGBTQ+ Nightlife

By Patric Stillman

In the heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ scene, where the beats pulse through the streets, DJ Jon Williams and DJ Fariba, two beloved music curators, have been spinning tales of liberation, acceptance, and diversity for decades. Their stories intertwine with the vibrant history of LGBTQ+ nightlife, where music has been the catalyst for cultural revolutions and expressions of identity.

The rhythmic beats, once spun by iconic DJs like Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles, continue to echo in the contemporary sounds of DJ Fariba and DJ Jon Williams. From the disco era to the techno beats of the ’80s and ’90s, and now into the pulsating electronic dance music of today, San Diego’s LGBTQ+ club scene has evolved into a sanctuary of self-expression and acceptance.

Both DJs, rooted in a simple passion for music, found their way to San Diego, where they became local legends by creating sonic landscapes for the community. DJ Jon Williams reflects on his journey, emphasizing the importance of consistency in shaping his career. “I love what I do. I never really got wrapped up into (the fame) of it. I’m not pushing myself or my name’s not in every single week. I fly under the radar sometimes. I think it’s just about having fun with it.”

DJ Fariba’s trajectory took a defining turn thanks to DJ Myxzlplix. Recounting the pivotal moment, she credits him with giving her the opportunity to play in his set, gradually shaping her path in the world of DJing. Fariba emphasizes the impact of mentorship in the community, acknowledging those who paved the way for emerging talents.

As they look back on the years, both DJs notice the changes brought about by technology in LGBTQ+ nightlife. Williams observes the shift from dressing up to go out and meet people to the immediate access to sounds through apps and social media. However, he emphasizes that the community’s appreciation for DJs and their love for iconic divas like Donna Summer and Madonna remain unchanged.

Fariba, excited about the evolving diversity in the club scene, highlights the prominence of Latin music in recent years. She notes the crossover onto mainstream radio and its integration into LGBTQ+ spaces, bringing communities together. The inclusivity extends to events like Middle Eastern night at The Rail and visibility within San Diego’s Pride Celebrations.

Acknowledging the crucial role of community support, both DJs express gratitude. Williams, appreciative of the euphoria he feels, thanks the community for allowing him to do what he loves. “It’s the only thing I’ve done, so I get to play by my own rules.” Fariba echoes the sentiment, emphasizing the role of clubs as places of escape. “The majority of people, when they come out to the clubs, they’re escaping their work lives. They want an escape from the outside world. They want to go out, let loose and have fun. I just hope that I’m providing that. The theme of the night is always love, acceptance, and extended family.”

In the vibrant tapestry of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ nightlife, DJs like Fariba and Jon Williams stand as guardians, weaving a harmonious blend of beats that connect the community and celebrate its diversity. From spinning in local nightclubs to playing to capacity at San Diego Pride, their influence extends far beyond the turntables.

DJ Jon Williams can be found spinning Bear Nights at The Merrow and heard behind the scenes during MO’s Bar and Grill drag nights.  You can find him on Facebook at @djjonwilliams and SoundCloud as DJ Jon Williams.

DJ Fariba is well known as a popular San Diego Pride DJ and pops up at a variety of clubs throughout the region.  She is on Instagram @deejay_fariba, Facebook @ClubDJ.Fariba and has some older tracks on SoundCloud that reflect her Persian roots and love for a good workout playlist.

The beats of liberation continue to resound in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ nightlife, where DJs serve as the architects of a sonic sanctuary, fostering unity, acceptance, and love.

In the Mix: Voices from the DJ Booth

Beyond the turntables of DJ Fariba and DJ Jon Williams, other DJs in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ scene add their voices to the vibrant chorus of the community. Each one, a guardian of the beats, shares their unique perspective on the power of music within the LGBTQ+ nightlife tapestry.

DJ Betty Bangs encapsulates the essence of love and music, declaring, “El amor y La Musica, es Pura vida!!! There are really no other languages I could learn to translate love other than music.”

DJ Myxzlplix expresses gratitude for the opportunity to be connected to the LGBTQ+ community’s journey. “For me personally, as a ‘ST8 ally,’ the LGBT community was one of the first places I had an opportunity to DJ… I’m humbly

grateful to still be a part of it today.”

DJ Kinky Loops contributes to fostering a sense of unity. “I strive to be diverse. My goal when DJing is to connect people through music & bring them together in a collective moment.”

DJ Autum Leilani believes in the empowering nature of music within the LGBTQ+ space, offering a safe haven for self-expression.. “I believe music is the heart beat of humanity! Within the queer community, music plays a vital role by providing a platform for self-expression, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.”

These diverse voices, alongside DJ Fariba and DJ Jon Williams, collectively shape the narrative of LGBTQ+ nightlife in San Diego. From the pulsating beats to the empowering lyrics, the DJs serve as architects, building a sanctuary where love, acceptance, and diversity harmonize to create an unforgettable experience for the community.  

Empower your local music scene by attending, promoting and supporting our community of DJs.  They provide the soundtrack to our lives.