This article is produced in partnership with L. If you've ever spent time in the city of Angels, you might find yourself walking down the street hearing the sounds of cumbia without even realizing it. Maybe it's emanating from a backyard party at a nearby neighbor's house or even a passing car as it cruises down the street. The sauntering sounds have the ability to permeate the atmosphere and become part of the collective air we breathe.
Cumbia's origins are a mash-up of cultures.
Most notably, a product of slavery brought to the new world, featuring sound fueled by the African diasporic rhythms mixed with Indigenous melodies that spread across to South America specifically from parts of Colombia, Peru, Argentina and El Salvador in the mids. Later, in the s and 50s, cumbia caught on throughout parts of Mexico.
The style of Mexican cumbia that remains popular today is referred to as sonidero. Gaining popularity in the s and '90s in Mexico City and later in Los Angeles, sonidero features DJs playing popular tunes performed on DIY sound systems while speaking over music, reading off personal dedications submitted by the audience.
The makeshift stage show is often accompanied by lights and is traditionally performed in nightclubs or commandeered outside spaces where people come to dance and let loose. Here in Los Angeles, cumbia remains a lifeforce for its residents Paisa clubs in los angeles up of recent immigrants who are looking for a taste of home and others looking to connect with their ancestral culture.
It was during that time, she began to attend a variety of underground club nights around L. Many of my closest friends and future collaborators I met on the dance floor at these parties,' says Lippman. It was during that time when she began to curate, produce and DJ on her own, tapping into all the L.
Vicente had since shuttered because of the rise of music piracy, streaming and rising rents in downtown Los Angeles. When asked to reflect the importance of the city's cumbia scene Lippman remarks "I think is unique to cumbia is that there are multiple cumbia scenes — from queer cumbia parties to family gatherings to massive sonidero bailes in nightclubs — in the same city. Spaces such as these create an environment where people can come to dance and listen to cumbia, connoting type of universality that somehow seems distinctive of Los Angeles.
Nectali Diaz, aka Sumohaira DJ and half of the tropical world pop duo Reyna Tropicalwas also a regular fixture at these parties. Growing up in Long Beach, Diaz's introduction to cumbia music was thought of as traditional music that was often heard at family parties such as weddings and birthdays.
Explore san diego
According to Diaz, "There was a disconnection for a while 'cause we only saw it as that type of music. They found what they were looking for on North Broadway in the barrio of Lincoln Heights at beloved dive bar The Office, a space that was already known for regularly hosting live cumbia house bands on the weekends.
The three friends came up with the name Metralleta De Oro for their cumbia party but then decided to change it to Dinamita due to people having a hard time pronouncing the original name. The monthly club night consisted of cumbia through the lens of the millennial and Mexican American selectors.
The evening's tunes would consist of mixing traditional Mexican cumbias most of the time Sonideros expertly blended with sounds of reggae and hip hop. In part, the inspiration for the evening came from regularly attending another club night whose deep dives into the cumbia-verse propelled Diaz and friends into wanting to capture a similar kind of energy in their party.
Native Gary Garay aka Ganas. The impetus for the party according to Ganas came from a place that was "resistance-based held out of sonic protest" as well as out of the need for having a place to hear cumbia as traditional spaces that either hosted bands, DJs or even on the jukebox began to disappear due to gentrification.
Ironically, the new bar establishments took over and occupied the same places. When Ganas met Kevin Ramos aka Enorbito, whose family was from Quinto, Ecuador, as a fellow ArtCenter School of De student, the two bonded over their love of music funk, soul, jazz, psych rock and even the occasional beat tapes.
The two classmates had connections to Dublaba non-profit L. Quickly the two noticed that they shared a love of Latin music. Both were fueled by the desire that there wasn't a specific place to hear the majority of Latin music being played. Instead, what already existed was a song here or there mixed into a hip-hop block as part of a break in the song but never the main focus. That open-minded approach to listening to music meant that their DJ sets did not only consist of cumbia, but also was a deep exploration of other types of music performed by a myriad of Latin artists from a variety of difference places throughout the Americas.
Always coming from an earnest standpoint, the collective never shied away from what is described as "queso fino" as Ganas puts it. We would play cheesy cuts, but only the finest of the cheese," he says. It wasn't uncommon to hear the occasional classic rock cover of a Cheap Trick song, "whether it was well done or not, it didn't matter," laughs Paisa clubs in los angeles.
The group would regularly raid their families' record collection and dig and search for sounds to play to regular attendees. Over time, they each would expand their collective knowledge towards different genres in Latin American music. You'll get some dembow or you might even get a Madonna cover in Spanish," Ganas remarks. From a steady flow of nights at Verdugo Bar which would later transfer over to nearby Footsies in Highland Park until when Ganas moved to Oakland. His Dublab radio show has allowed Ganas to dig even deeper into his archival findings.
It became more than rocking parties. I'm into field recordings of old Indigenous records and the radio show gave me a platform to showcase this where you can't do that in a club or bar," he says. To Lippman, the Discos Rolas record represents what she calls "a creative research project and platform for events combining artist talks, screenings and parties.
In nearby Boyle Heights, another brand of cumbia has been birthed, that speaks to that type of malleability that cumbia can possess. The band Spaghetti Cumbia is a special blend of what they refer to as "un poco cumbia, un poco vaquero" a little bit of cumbia, a little bit of cowboy. Spaghetti Cumbia performs live cumbias infused with Spaghetti Western soundtracks. The group blends their musical genealogy consisting of their punk rock roots along with the traditional cumbia sounds and other Latin music performed by Juan Gabriel, Los Bukis and Ramon Ayala.
Growing up immersed in the sounds of Latinidad played at social functions Paisa clubs in los angeles even just at home while their parents prepared dinner along with later discovering punk allowed the group to cross-pollinate their influences. Spaghetti Cumbia defined the specific genre of music they play as "cumbiaquero. The residents of Los Angeles are fortunate to also be exposed to other types of music related to the genre. The longstanding L. Typically played with percussive instruments such as the cajaguacharacaand accordion, form the ature style found in the region of Vallenato.
The music, like cumbia, is a mezcla of musical traditions of African, Indigenous and European influences. Campos, of Spaghetti Cumbia, mentions the group for paving the way and exposing L. At a Spaghetti Cumbia show, attendees are strongly encouraged to dance their heart out. Their promoters and their fans are passionate about spreading the word of cumbia with their regular DJ nights and live performances hosted throughout the city.
Best dance clubs in san diego
It might be a familiar memory or just the feeling of wanting to dance. I feel like we are ambassadors of cumbia to people," says Pistola. The universal appeal of cumbia runs deep throughout the streets of Los Angeles. Cumbia is a movement especially, in places like Los Angeles and beyond, which is reflective of its vast population.
Artbound Start watching. Fine Cut Start watching.
SoCal Wanderer Start watching. Earth Focus Presents Start watching. Muhammad Ali Start watching. Southland Sessions Start watching. Professor T Belgium Start watching. Emma Start watching. Guilt Start watching. Line of Separation Start watching. Icon: Music Through the Lens Start watching.
Us Start watching. The Latino Experience Start watching. Summer of Rockets Start watching. Death in Paradise Start watching. Independent Lens Start watching. In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl Start watching. Special Premiering November Start watching. Earth Focus Start watching. City Rising Start watching.
Lost LA Start watching. See All Shows. More on El Movimiento. More on Wildfires. More on Cinema Series.
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming. Other Ways to Give.
Connect with Our Team. PBS Passport.