DJ collective, Chulita Vinyl Club, was asked to stop playing music mid-performance after a manager told them that the venue "does not play Latin Music."
The DJ collective was performing at Caroline, a restaurant in the Aloft hotel in Austin, Texas. They served as the opening and closing act for the Superfónicos, a local Afro-Colombian band.
Chulita Vinyl Club is a multi-regional group encompassing women who aim to create and maintain a space for vinyl-lovers in an extremely sexist industry. Although the performers of the group are from mostly Latinx backgrounds, the group says that they are inclusive of everyone regardless of their race, culture, sexuality and gender display.
According to kuow.org, on July 28th, the club started playing a medley of music including pop, motown, and disco, but towards the end of the set they played Latin music, which is when the uncomfortable and offensive confrontation transpired...
“After Superfónicos, everybody was ready to dance. They started moving tables, dancing to our music, and that’s when we started playing salsa, cumbia; there was some Selena. … They weren't expecting it for some reason, recalled Claudia Aparicio Gamundi, member of Chulita Vinyl Club. "We literally had either 10 minutes or close to 10 minutes to end." Claudia said that's when a manager came and asked, 'Who is in charge of the music?' "I said, ‘We all are. What’s up?' says Claudia. "And then he just said, ‘This hotel does not play Latin music. You need to shut it off.’”
The group says that an employer has never approached them like this during a performance.
Although it was innappropriate to shut down their set mid performance there is a larger problem present: The restaurant hired a Latin collective and a Latin band to perform for the night, but then rudely approached the women when they played Latin music.
Chulita DJ, Jessenia Giron, was emotionally impacted by the incident; “That goes hand and hand: feeling like we are always being dismissed and our culture is always used, but we're not being accepted,” she said in an interview with KUT.org
The venue's general manager, David Meisner, issued a written statement to address the incident. In the apology he said the staff was not responding to the genre of music, but just wanted a different tempo as the night was coming to a close. However, Meisner did agree that the situation was handled innapropiately and that they are re-training their team in efforts to create a more "inclusive, respectful environment where everyone knows they are genuinely welcomed and valued."
There is a huge Latin presence in Austin, Texas and from restaurants to clubs and clothing stores, there seemed to have been a huge appreciation for our culture. But incidents like these remind us of the appropriation that is constantly occurring. It's a hard pill to swallow that people can economically benefit from a culture without truly appreciating it, however this is a common circumstance undergone by many communities of color.