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The Lothario and The Clown Prince—Paige Plissner and Marvin Lopez—are easy to spot in a crowded club. Even when they aren’t DJing, they’re practically inseparable and often the most excited people in the room—usually screaming or jumping around. They also dress alike on many occasions. Throughout the years, they’ve proudly donned outfits ranging from matching denim vests decorated with patriotic stars and stripes to crewneck sweatshirts displaying a massive photo of them partying together. Now it’s puffy white satin jackets featuring a hand-drawn caricature of them on the back. Clearly, giving a fuck is something they’ve sworn off ages ago.
Plissner and Lopez met in 2011 when Plissner was a contestant in the pho dog-eating contest at U Street Music Hall. Now, together they form The Borrowers, a DJ duo years in the making that originated as solo ventures. Energized by the heavy bass of fidget and electro house music produced by artists like Crookers, The Bloody Beetroots, and Steve Aoki, they both started their DJ careers as a way to supplement their passion for dance music.
Elbow-deep in the output of music blogs, Lopez started making mixes as an efficient way to consume the masses of mp3s he was collecting until he made a name for himself while DJing as The Clown Prince. Plissner, on the other hand, felt unimpressed with the local dance music scene and wanted to best her competition. Any music discovery she made on her blog, For the Lothario in You, often came to a screeching halt in the clubs. “All these songs [I found] were dope, but nobody was playing them out,” she laments.
Currently, both hold successful monthly residencies around D.C.—Plissner at Rock & Roll Hotel for IDK Fridays and Lopez at Velvet Lounge for TROPIXXX with Mathias. But it’s together as The Borrowers that the duo can explore their shared passion for underground club music. “We’ve always loved club music, but we don’t always have an opportunity to play it,” Plissner explains. “[As] The Borrowers, we’re like, fuck it—we’ll just play club music.”
Whether it’s a hyperactive breakbeat, rousing vocals, or generally rambunctious vibe, club music has a unique way of energizing a dance floor. Plissner particularly loves the variety and intricacies of the genre. “You can have a stupid remix of Spongebob or you can have something really intelligent with complicated time signatures,” she explains.
After hearing club music being played at popular dance parties from Baltimore’s TaxLo to D.C.’s Nouveau Riche, Lopez became attracted to the accessibility of the local genre and its grassroots support. “These were all local dudes playing their own club records,” he says.
In an effort to create a designated home for club music in D.C., The Borrowers have collaborated with Classical Trax, a progressive underground club music label, to host a brand new monthly dance party, Guestlist. Held at 9:30 Club’s Backbar, Guestlist aims to showcase the diverse styles of club music in an intimate setting, a place where The Borrowers feel most at home.
For The Borrowers, Guestlist is a party it actually wants to attend and are proud to host. “I’m so over going to shitty shows,” Plissner declares. Turning its back on the bedlam of mainstream dance culture, underwhelming DJs, and costumed party-goers who barely dance, The Borrowers promise to create something that’s genuine. “We’re sure of ourselves as far as what we’re doing being something that we want to do,” Plissner explains. “We obviously think it’s cool and it’s up to other people if they think it’s cool, but we’re proud of what’s happening.”
The Borrowers perform tonight at Backbar for Guestlist with Panch and V. Geels at 11 p.m. $5.
Photo by Amir Lowery