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Remembering Tommy Borrero, Longtime Goosetown Doorman and DJ

Longtime Goosetown Tavern doorman and DJ Tommy Borrero died on October 14.
Longtime Goosetown Tavern doorman and DJ Tommy Borrero died on October 14. Anthony Maes
Not long after he moved from Los Angeles to Denver in 1994, Miggy Camacho met Tommy Borrero, who'd relocated to Boulder from the Bronx, at a hardcore show at the Aztlan Theatre. Although they were from opposite coasts, they bonded over music and often ran into each other at punk and ska shows.

The two went on to become fixtures in Denver’s music scene, sometimes deejaying together at Goosetown Tavern, Streets Denver and Tooey’s Off Colfax — where Borrero would spin his last set three weeks ago. Borrero, who was known by many nicknames (Tommy Two Time, Tommy 2 Short, Boogie Down Tommy and Puerto Rican Tommy), died unexpectedly on October 14 at the age of 51.

A longtime doorman at the Goosetown Tavern, Borrero also worked at Benny Blanco, where he was constantly joking, talking crap and “just being Tommy,” Camacho says.

“His jokes, his charisma, his attitude toward things — he was always having a good time, being jolly good and making fun of himself in front of everybody, and just being fun," Camacho continues. "When he was in the room, he was the center of attention, no matter what he was doing or what he wasn’t doing.”

Borrero was a great guy who made everybody feel safe. “That's why people used to go to the venues where Tommy was doing the door," he adds. "And when Tommy was deejaying, he was just charismatic.”

Not long after Chris Swank, who owns the Bluebird Theater and Mezcal, took over the Goosetown Tavern in 2014, he brought on Rob "Dogg" Crawford to manage the bar and book bands, and Crawford soon hired Borrero to work the door.

"[Tommy] was a staple there," Crawford says. "He was the guy that everybody saw on the way in and on the way out. His presence was well-known. He had a huge responsibility for setting a precedent for the attitude — to kind of weed people out and to make sure people were having a great time. I think people followed and respected his command and lead in that."

Borrero was hilarious and always wanted people to have a good time at Goosetown, Crawford adds, but if people in the bar didn't respond to his requests, Borrero could get serious.

Crawford says he remembers thinking: "'I always want to keep this guy on my good side because he's so good when he's good, but you definitely don't want to be an asshole and cross that line.' That's why he was so valuable at the door.

"When we opened up the music venue at Goosetown, we had a large flux of punk-rock and rock-and-roll shows and DJs. There were all sorts of large crowds coming through," Crawford recalls. "Things could have definitely gotten out of hand quickly. Tommy was the guy that coordinated the communication across the bar. We’d raise a couple of fingers and point, and [he'd] throw those guys out. And he did it gracefully when appropriate.”"

Borrero had grown up on ’80s New York hardcore and one of his favorite bands was Madball, but he was also a fan of ska, hip-hop, Latin soul, salsa and Motown, and worked a lot of that into his DJ sets. "He was into everything,” Camacho says. “That’s why we definitely got along. We liked everything from the Dead Kennedys to the Business to Desmond Dekker, to Héctor Lavoe to Depeche Mode.”

Borrero also deejayed at The Kids Are Alright, Colorado Punk Rock Army’s afternoon concerts at Goosetown that showcased young punk bands. Camacho says the kids looked up to Borrero, and he even taught some of them how to deejay.

A celebration of life for Tommy Borrero will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 24, at the Goosetown Tavern, 3242 East Colfax Avenue, with Camacho spinning along with DJ Roberto Perro, the DVRS, DJ Brown Fury and Helldorado Cinco. Camacho notes that there will be a table set up with Borrero’s DJ gear “so he’ll be deejaying with us, no matter what.”

Noelis Chelfer, Borrero’s sister, has set up a GoFundMe page for Borrero’s wife, Liz, and their eight-year-old daughter, Ava. (Borrero also leaves a son, Ely.)

“Tommy was a true Bronx Warrior, which is loved by many,” Chelfer posted on the page. “He is the definition of a ride or die until the end. Even miles away living in Denver he never forgot where he came from, and the love for his people grew stronger in time…

“Tommy loved his daughter wholeheartedly. She was literally his sidekick, and this would fill him with joy to see us all come together for his daughter because he loved to see everyone together. Any donation no matter how big or how small will go into a savings account for Ava. As we all cry, laugh and remember, all the good times that he left us with...will forever be cherished. He is gone but never forgotten. Fly high brother, we got Ava and Liz.”
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon