Co-written by DJs Ushka and Ripley.
When we talk about “global bass” as a genre and scene in New York, it’s not always clear what fits into this recently generated category. Who gets to claim “global bass” and what does it represent? This desire to cookie-cutter a range of musical genres as a way to identify a “scene” has in its doing led to the lack of inclusion, in media accounts, of many communities who are engaging with global music and culture in meaningful ways, with amazing music.
One party space that’s been slept-on is Azucar (bi-line: a queer Latin dance party), that for the last two years has made its home in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn at One Last Shag. The music –spanning Latin pop, punk, bass, salsa, kuduro, dancehall, you name it– keeps this bar space with a backyard packed to the brim, but the music also has deep roots. That’s what has helped it become a once-a-month home for diverse queer community of color and allies. It’s one of those parties born out of intentionality. The promoters Ivette González-Alé and Crystal González-Alé, and the venue itself are clearly invested in building a community – which involves honoring existing communities that lack social spaces: queer, latino and immigrant communities, and also invested in supporting talented deejays also conscious of who they want to be playing to. Among the roster of deejays that have set the scene for this familial dance community Azucar has built over the last two years are deejays like Precolumbian, Shomi Noise, Nolita Selector, DJ Nopales, Andalalucha, Dj Cristy Road, Mursi Layne, and Dj Angel boi.
In conversations that Ushka has had with Ivette and Crystal, they’ve talked about the waxing and waning of spaces for queer communities of color and the ways in which even in “alternative” party spaces for queer communities, people of color were not dominant. As parties that were former staples in the Brooklyn queer community of color reached their time (ex. Khane Kutzwell’s Sweat parties,Tikka Masala’s That’s My Jam and Ms. Thang), new spaces like Azucar and Brooklyn Boihood were born to fill the gap. What Azucar has done over the last 2 years provided a necessary social base, and a key aspect for keeping music exciting and sustainable.
Tomorrow (Saturday May 18, 2013) Ushka and I (Dj Ripley), who have each played Azucar parties before, have been invited back to deejay their 2-year anniversary party, alongside Azucar resident DJ Shomi Noise and guests DJ Oscar Nñ, DJ Mursi Layne, and DJ Nolita Selector. It’s a great moment to praise the way that Azucar has grounded and supported the global bass music scene in New York and beyond. It’s also in line with what drew Ushka and I to Dutty Artz : a focus on music that links and crosses borders, supports resistance, alters the contours of mainstream discussions and fosters the life that grows in cracks in the system.
We wanted to emphasize how these parties and DJs have been part of the creation of cultural establishments for a diverse range of immigrant sounds and are actually rooted in communities of immigrants & in regions that are constantly being “mined” for musical inspiration. It would be trivial and simplistic to relegate them only to being “queer or gay nights” or “lady dj nights” – instead they require that we interrogate the exclusivity of this so-called “global bass” scene and in fact (re)evaluate the role of community creation within any scene. Here, it is actually Latino, African, South Asian, Black, and Caribbean people on the dance floor and behind the decks. Here, all sexualities and gender identities are being celebrated. If there’s a recipe for a music scene with a long healthy life that sustains its members, it should include both those things.