Auckland’s biggest gay club night, Homo House, is coming to Neck of the Woods for the first time this weekend! We sat down in the club with DJ and event planner Jordan Eskra to talk about the gay party scene in Auckland, how he keeps people dancing till 4AM and our favourite Beyoncé tunes.
Welcome to Neck of the Woods! Is this the first party you’ve thrown on Karangahape Rd?
No, the first party I did on K’ Rd was two years ago at Good Times. They made so much money that night they decided to turn it into a gay bar. But I don’t think they really understood how much it took to promote… I brought in all my own gear, turntables, DJs…
Oh, so that’s what happened to that! Did you ever come to K’ Rd back in the 90s?
Well I only moved to NZ in the early 2000s.
I’m trying to think what was going back then…
Family had just opened, Urge … there was still a variety of clubs.
Do we need more gay clubs in Auckland?
I think gay partying has changed so much. Loads of the guys who come to Homo House only come to my parties. They don’t go out at all, and lots of them take the Monday off. I don’t think we could sustain another gay club.
Do you think it’s a population thing?
It’s a population thing, it’s changing times. Gay clubs are closing all over the world. But gay parties and gay takeovers are on the rise.
Why do you think that is?
Well, predominantly where the gay clubs used to be have now become “premium” neighbourhoods. Plus a lot of things like social media, apps, there’s a whole lot more avenues gay people can meet each other. But also straight clubs are vastly more accepting now.
Accepting of the gay community?
Yes in some aspects. I mean, my boyfriend and I probably wouldn’t kiss at a straight club but at our parties it’s shirts off… so the gays can be flamboyant and gay at straight clubs and for the most part be okay, especially in places like Ponsonby but you go down to Britomart and it’s pretty…
It’s not as safe?
I mean I did a gay party at a bar downtown and we had no issues inside but at 4 in the morning we had non stop issues on the street. The guys would come outside wearing little skimpy outfits and people are yelling out “fag” or whatever. In 2017.
Which is why we’re so hard out with our security team and making sure they’re really protective of people on the street.
Yeah I’ve been doing parties for a long time and never had one issue ever, you could get away with almost no security in the club. Everyone’s super respectful. But out on the street it’s different.
I was thinking about our Safe & Sound policy - one of our big focuses is that if we remove someone cos they’re too trashed we make sure they get into an uber or they’re with a friend. It doesn’t stop at the door.
You know, this is our first time at Neck of the Woods but I’ve taken over straight venues all over Auckland and I’ve never not had an issue with venue staff working their first gay party. You guys seem to be a lot more clued up in terms of language. The staff I’ve met are actually excited for Saturday … I’ve had to tell venues I wouldn’t come back to do another party unless they changed staff because there were straight guys who couldn’t handle gay men flirting with them.
So all the DJs you’ve brought over are gay?
Yes, except for two - Moto Blacno and Freemasons. But if you went to any gay club in the late 90s, early 2000s you would’ve heard Moto Blanco or Freemasons remixes.
Wait, so what is it with remixes and gay club nights?
Freemasons was the biggest DJ I brought over. For the first 10 years of the 2000s you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing his remixes. Some of them were the first official remixes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga … there were really big Whitney Houston remixes.
So, these house remixes of pop hits are a big part of your own sets?
Most of my sets are pretty poppy and fun. You can go pretty heavy between 1AM and 2:30 but to keep the crowd on the floor till 4AM you really need music they know.
Stuff they can singalong to…
They gotta be happy! That’s a very rough formula of the night.
Neck of the Woods and Homo House both have the same “no dresscode” dresscode policy. I know why that’s important to us. Why is that important to you?
Because there’s no where in Auckland where guys can wear what they want and feel totally free and comfortable and encouraged and not judged. People often come from big lavish pre-parties in big groups. And sometimes these groups will be in matching outfits - all in light up shoes or sailor outfits. A lot of our community ask if we can throw parties at certain venues in Auckland but actually some of those venues won’t agree to no dress codes, they won’t agree to unisex toilets.
Who’s your dream DJ to bring over here?
I actually have a couple that I’ve been working on so I can’t say! But I’d like a venue where I could produce a show. Like, I had Zoe Badwi perform at my winter pride party in Queenstown. That was quite fun to put on a full 15 minute show with dancers and everything as part of the party.
So, who’s your dream performer to bring over?
Well, Beyoncé is my number one performer. I never play a set without Beyoncé.
Good policy! So what’s your favourite Beyoncé song right now? Because I know for me it changes a lot depending on my mood.
Countdown. Because of Homecoming! That part that goes from Hold Up to Countdown…
Such a great transition!
That was the moment in Homecoming where it finally went into her poppy stuff. I mean, the first part was great but we needed a bit of gay!
What’s the big difference between Homo House and just straight house?
The vibe! Straight parties can be kinda agro. And it can be very cliquey. Whereas at the Homo House parties there’s a common theme for everyone. If you were to just sit here on Saturday night and really watch you would not be able to tell who was friends with who. It’s just this big smattering of gays all over the place.