In 2015, local producer and DJ Erick Jaimez launched Sonidero Saturdays at Deep Ellum’s Café Salsera. It became an instant hit.
Known in Dallas for crunk cumbia, or cumbia mixed with hip-hop and trap, Jaimez has a theory as to why it’s so successful. “There weren’t many places to play cumbia at the time, and if there were, it was really far away for people who wanted to travel,” he said.
With its percussion-heavy sound and variations across Latin America, cumbia is seen as both party music and a symbol of Latinidad (Latin identity). It is played through speakers at quinceaneras, weddings, and backyard gatherings as people dance in pairs or in circles.
In Dallas, cumbia music used to play in Latin clubs and restaurants, but today it can be heard throughout Deep Ellum and Oak Cliffs. This is because underground his artists not only keep it alive, but make it their own music.
This new wave of cumbia breaks with and honors traditions that allow everyone, even those outside the Latin community, to move. Cover bands celebrate cumbia legends, local DJs mix cumbia rhythms with other tracks, and cumbia bands help grow the genre.
Popular for many reasons. For one, it’s catchy and danceable. Also, social media sites are increasing exposure to new bands and new sounds. Thanks to Cumbia Wave, young Latinos are getting more in touch with their identities.
“I think it’s a genre that any Latino kid, mostly a kid from Mexico, can relate to,” Jaimez said. “Everywhere in Mexico they play classic songs they know, like Los Ángeles Azules or Celso Piña. [to a show] They recognize it and feel at home somewhere. ”
Cumbia began as a courtship dance by enslaved Africans on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Traditional cumbia used drums and flutes such as gouache and gaita, but over the years cumbia has added horns, accordions and guitars.Modern cumbia bands have as many as ten members. can do.
Dallas-based cumbia cover band Sabor Puro regularly perform for Latino audiences at Oak Cliff’s La Pesca Market and Grand Prairie’s Traders Village. Vocalist Sylvia Ortiz, who goes by the stage name Paola, said playing at Bishop Arts’ Levelers Hall last year was one of the first they played for a wider audience.
At Revelers Hall in December, firefighters showed up mid-performance, ignoring a request to stop from the band’s music director, Christian Ortiz, who is married to Paola, but the crowd continued to dance. I was. The marshals found no reason to close it, and music continued to play from Caifanes to Los Angeles Azures.
Looking back on that show, Paola said she felt “everything about Dallas was there.”
“My aim as a performer is to bring people together, especially through this period of oppression and concern in the region,” she said. “Music is like a universal connector and the fact that we can do that with Cumbia is kind of a blessing. shared with.”
Paola was previously the vocalist of the La Sonora Dinamita cover band. It all started when I was working as a server at Mi Cocina when I heard a busboy singing “Las Mañanitas”, a traditional Mexican birthday song. She formed Sabor Puro in 2017, she said, with the goal of making every performance feel like her family gathering.
Reminiscent of Selena Quintanilla, the Queen of Tejano, Paola rotates onstage and dances with the audience singing classic cumbia tunes. Sometimes she even sings from the patio table.
“I wanted to be an opera singer, but cumbia got me hooked,” said Paola. She graduated from the Booker T. Washington High School of Performing and Visual Arts and the North She graduated from the University of Texas and currently works as a music teacher.
Dallas cumbia bands play a modern style of cumbia, combining traditional cumbia elements with their own twists to create something that represents themselves. Los Gran Reyes, formed in 2006 by brothers Agustin Granados and Christian Granados, use urban and electric sounds, while Cayuga All Stars, formed in 2021 by punk rock and metal musicians, draws on their Mexican barrio roots. and psychedelic music.
“We feel different about what sound and cumbia are,” said Agustin Granados. “We experiment and express ourselves in our music.”
For 2021, DJs Eternos and Alaska have taken the same idea and transformed Cheapsteaks’ weekly vaquero goth DJ night, Desafio.
“I think in Dallas, more Latinos are starting to embrace the culture more,” said DJ Alaska, whose real name is Alaska Quinones. “People are using and proud of their identities more and more. That Latino pride just makes you happy and makes you want to dance.”
They mix cumbia rhythms with favorite emo and new wave tracks from bands like My Chemical Romance and New Order. Mixing two very different sounds is a way of blending two worlds. One where she grew up listening to cumbia and the other she discovered in her teenage years.
“I do Latin, but it’s filtered through my life experiences and all the weird music I’m into,” said DJ Eternos. His real name is Jose Hernandez. “[Cumbia] Came here and have just been introduced to a different crowd. ”
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