Finding home through DJs
by Lina Pulgarin
August 16, 2017 - a livelier than usual day for me and strangely enough I remember a large portion of it. I was living in the Lower East Side and working in the financial district. Looking back at my pictures, I can tell you it was a “giving back” day at work. So instead of going to our office and doing analytics we spent the morning in Brooklyn doing Coastal Cleanup around some marshes surrounding Brooklyn Bridge Park. I remember it was very hot and that we picked up a lot of straws. I remember we took a ferry back from Brooklyn to Manhattan and then I’m not so sure what happened in the evening.
However, night is a completely different story. I was meeting up with my sister at Irving Plaza to watch Bomba Estereo.
It’s possible that I’m being dramatic... but that night was life altering.
First, we scan our tickets, enter the space -- and immediately see a taco stand inside the venue. Food? Immediately I’m happier than I imagined. We’re milling around. Usually the time before a concert starts is awkward and quiet but tonight everyone is in high spirits and there’s an amazing energy in the room (maybe it was the tacos).
Opening act comes on. Usually opening acts are just there to pass the time, get some exposure, practice - set the mood. If you’re lucky, they’re good and at least somewhat related to the main act you’re about to see.
That night, we weren't just lucky - we were blessed. The opening act was DJ Bembona. She played a mix of trap, cumbia, salsa, hip-hop, rap - all the while adding her own words and expressions to the mix. Never did I think I would be in Irving Plaza perreando, dancing salsa and shouting along with hundreds of people “No le pegue a la negra.”
Thus began my love affair with the New York Latin DJ scene.
Then I moved to Boston.
I was told by everyone I would love it there since it was so Liberal. And well … I like Boston, it’s nice, the people I’ve worked with are nice, it’s eco-friendly, there’s the Charles River, there’s a lot of bars, a lot of breweries, some really good restaurants (really good Korean food) and a lot of racial segregation. It’s obvious to those who are accustomed to diversity and not so much to those who think being “liberal” is all you need.
I was quick to make friends with some coworkers, so we went to bars and some casual clubs. But the DJs were low-key catastrophic: playing songs from the 2000s, pop radio, Top 40 and would switch songs by stopping a song completely and switching to a new one. There was no rhythm, no soul. I was sad.
But I knew that good DJs must be out there. So my strategy for finding good DJs and a way to feel more at home was as follows: stalk all the DJs from New York that I loved - see who they had collaborated with, toured with, done shows with in Boston, look at the promoters for those events and then attend their shows. Surprisingly, it worked. The club nights I went to were now suddenly diverse, fun, respectful and filled with great music. The DJs were great - unfortunately as soon as a DJ in Boston gets really good they move to another city. And unfortunately for me as soon as I started to find my place in Boston the pandemic hit.
I miss eating at restaurants, going to museums, dancing at concerts, and clubbing. I am an introvert, but a very curious one. So, I thrive on sharing ideas, meals, music - being surprised by the artistry and soul of others. DJs truly have so much power to guide your dancing, your emotions so fluidly and unexpectedly. A distraction I wish I had now.
While we can’t replicate the experience of being in a club with your friends and a hundred strangers, we commissioned DJ FX to create a mix for you all. We hope this mix can bring some warmth, joy and perreo into your home.