DJ Willy Joy likes dudes…just not that way. But, the straight sexual orientation of the Chicago-based DJ didn’t stop him from sharing a romantic meal with another man at the restaurant Marvin shortly before his set last Thursday at the U Street Music Hall.
“It was my first dude date,” laughed Joy walking down U Street prior to his show. Joy had just dined with DJ Tommy Cornelis (billed as DJTMY around Washington), who had won Brightest Young Things‘ “Win a Dream Date with Willy Joy” contest earlier that day.
Tommy Cornelis and Willy Joy – All Photos by Shauna Alexander
“For a fake date, it felt really natural,” said Cornelis, best known for his Maison and Aural Pleasure parties. “I think it helped that we were both of different sexual orientations, and that we both are already in relationships, and that we both know a lot of the same people in D.C.”
“I love D.C.,” Joy told Brightest Young Things after his date, and shortly before his set before the Trouble & Bass party at the U Street Music Hall. “UHall is one of my favorite places in the country to play. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it is run by friends of mine that I love,” said Joy of venue owners Will Eastman and Jesse Tittsworth. “I’ve had DJ friends open up clubs before, but this place is special. Places often get the space right, but the DJ set-up wrong, or vice versa. UHall gets both things right, and it is a blast to play.”
Joy was, along with fellow Chicago-based DJ Rob Threezy – to play the venue’s Trouble & Bass party and to promote their Heavy Champions of the World vol. X EP release. He had already made a solo appearance at the venue earlier this year, before looping back last month to U Street as rapper Kid Sister’s touring DJ. Although, to say that Joy merely DJ’d for Kid Sister’s concert at UHall would be a misnomer. He was a full participant in her set, goading the crowd into frenzy and providing supplying background vocals which won him new fans who returned to see him perform at Trouble & Bass.
“As a DJ, hanging out with Willy Joy made me feel like young Anakin Skywalker hanging out with Obe-Wan Kenobi,” said Cornelis.
Joy provides a good template for any aspiring DJ. Not content to simply play his line-up, Willy Joy pushes his set across the line into performance. Jumping around, pumping his hands into the air, and sharing smiles and laughs with the audience, Joy is as engaging to watch as he is to listen and dance to.
As for Cornelis, he has been quietly building himself up over the last year into one of the more respected young DJs in Washington. Although gay himself, Cornelis has mostly played mainstream parties around town. The exception is his monthly Maison party that he hosts with DJ Shea Van Horn. With French-themed music, the line-up of gay men waiting to get into the party on the rooftop of the Donovan House Hotel has literally stretched down a city block. “We’ve thought about having hosts for the party simply to entertain the line waiting to get in,” Cornelis told BYT. “Everyone in the line to Maison is always in a patient, good mood and it makes for a great, relaxed crowd.”
Cornelis – who celebrated his 25th birthday at midnight during his date with Willy Joy – will again host his Maison party this Friday at the Donovan House Hotel rooftop. Following that, Cornelis and Maison collaborator DJ Shea Van Horn are set to DJ Brightest Young Thing’s French Riviera summer camp pool party on Saturday at the Capital Skyline Hotel. Additionally, you can catch Cornelis, and DJs Chris Burns, Gavin Holland and Bil Todd on Saturday evening at the Rock & Roll Hotel.