The DJ Spinning Europe's Great Parties
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because as Ibiza goes, so goes fiesta cultura.
By Shaquina Blake
When international stars touch down in Madrid seeking a party, they know who to call: Boramy Huor.
Macklemore joined him at perennially popular Kapital, where he was a resident DJ. He’s hosted the French national basketball team and the Warriors’ Stephen Curry. The DJ has an invite-only party at the über-trendy Ramses, and he tells me he’s set to DJ the funky night at Blackhaus. In Madrid, says actor-singer Bandile, who performs in the Spanish production of The Lion King, “Boramy is the man to know.” Now, Huor is taking his urban-infused DJ-and-promoter style global — first stop, this summer, was Barcelona. He’s an official DJ for the Luc Belaire brand — the sparkling wine synonymous with hip-hop, followed by every DJ’s dream gig: spinning for global nightlife icons like Privilege and Pacha in Ibiza, the clubbing capital of the world.
The 37-year-old describes himself as an “open-format DJ,” meaning he’s influenced by multiple styles, although “hip-hop is always at the base of what I do.” At parties like @IAMARICHBITCH at Privilege, he incorporates reggaeton and Latin flavor. For Pacha’s club Lío, he mixes urban with EDM, adding a live component where singer Bandile belts out club mixes of the latest R&B hits. At Funk Kombat in Madrid, it’s straight-up American hip-hop and R&B.
When I catch up to Huor, he’s breathless, freshly booked to play at Lío for their closing celebrations. Of the around 50 clubs he’s played, he says Lío is his favorite. He can’t quite believe his luck, he explains: “I thought Ibiza was only for house DJs and famous people.” But this summer he’s spun for Privilege, the biggest club in the world; Lío, the most glamorous club on the island; and some private parties to boot. His social-media accounts are speckled with proof of all the glitz.
Huor was born in Paris to accidental refugees. His father arrived in France to study as war broke out in his native Cambodia; calls home to friends revealed people were disappearing. Huor explains, “When the war broke out, you’re just grabbing a plane and you escape. It’s either this or you get killed.” Growing up, he straddled two worlds, France and that of his parents’ heritage. It’s thanks to them that he speaks French, Cambodian, English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese — they obsessively sent him off for language study each summer. But parties? Verboten. Hip-hop? They didn’t understand it. But one day he saw a tape of another 15-year-old kid named A-trak winning a DMC contest — the high-energy battles in which DJs show off turntable skills, through mixing (beat-matching) and scratching records. Huor’s mind was blown. He thought, “I want to do that,” and he went on to spend hours in his room practicing mixing and scratching techniques.
Huor had already DJed in his local college scene in Bordeaux. But when he arrived in Madrid in 1999 as an international business student, he found there wasn’t much of a hip-hop scene. He says even getting vinyls for hip-hop was difficult. If he wanted a scene, he’d have to build it himself. He began promoting for nightclubs and started his own party, Funk Kombat, in 2001. Huor quickly owned Sunday night — “Nobody wanted it,” he says. He lost money at first. But he continued on, nursing a side gig as a model, which helped bring in the pretty people; he also relied on his expat classmates, and the basketball players as well. Finally the locals, too, flocked. Today, he still dominates the hip-hop scene he created. DJ Rocky Rock, who’s worked with the Black Eyed Peas and Sublime, says Boramy keeps hip-hop alive in Madrid.
A DJ like Huor can set the tone for partiers’ tastes across Europe.
Ibiza, traditionally known for dance music rather than hip-hop, has opened up culturally and musically over the last five years. Artists like David Guetta, Avicii and Swedish House Mafia made dance music more accessible to masses by mixing pop music with house beats and progressive chords. Now, a generation comes to Ibiza without being dance-music purists. And as Ibiza goes, so goes the global music scene: “People come to Ibiza because it’s cool,” says Raúl Hache, former manager at Las Dalias Ibiza — they’re not there for a specific kind of music. So a DJ like Huor can set the tone for partiers’ tastes across Europe. Plus, says Silvio Puliani, owner of high-end concierge company Ibiza VIP World, “Without a famous DJ, there’s no party.”
Huor isn’t quite in that category — yet. Famous hip-hop DJs traditionally make money not from performing in clubs but from touring and producing records. And urban sound isn’t yet mainstream on the island — only one club out of 27, Swag Ibiza, is dedicated to hip-hop and R&B. When your business is partying, you have to be prepared to ride out the flops, which may be likelier at a hip-hop fête than any other.
But Boramy’s more concerned about the present than future success, he says. One last time before the summer season ends, Boramy and Bandile touch down in Ibiza to rock out Lío. Boramy’s on the decks; Bandile lends vocal support. The crowd is young, eager for something fresh. Boramy knows what they want. He throws down the beat. Bandile electrifies the crowd. Like any good party, it’s about the now. Tomorrow can wait.
An earlier version of this story misrepresented Huor’s relationship with the Luc Belaire brand. He is an official DJ, not the official DJ.
- Shaquina Blake, OZY Author Contact Shaquina Blake