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Crushing gender and cultural barriers with the Chulita Vinyl Club

Courtesy of Mar Velez
Bay Area members of the Chulita Vinyl Club pose for polaroid photos at the Legionnaire Saloon; celebrating the collective's 3 year anniversary.

Second Fridays at the Legionnaire Saloon in downtown Oakland are not just any bar night. In this week's Audiograph, we're going to a dance party that feels like a family reunion.

Outside, strangers bond over the delicious tacos sold at the pop-up-food-stand, Tacos El Último Baile. And inside, the dance-floor is packed with crews of women in their flyest kicks and threads getting down to classic and rare 45s of cumbia, funk, and more.

“There’s a sense of comradery and also sisterhood here ” says Martha Brenda Valdez, one attendee. “You feel like your at a baile for your family.”

The DJs who host this throwback party are known as the Chulita Vinyl Club, an all-vinyl, all-“womxn of color” DJ collective.

Between Texas and California, there are seven Chulita chapters, including this one in the Bay Area. Spinning rock en español, soul, and more, the Chultias play a hybrid sound at the Legionnaire that is especially nostalgic for the Latino millennials who make up most of the crowd.

“It’s very rare to find a place where you can listen to norteño and cumbia and everything else in one spot,” says Elizabeth Mercado, a first-timer to the Oakland Chulita party.

At the collective’s three-year anniversary, Bay Area members of the Chulita Vinyl Club spoke with KALW's Marisol Medina-Cadena about how they fight gender and culture barriers, one record at a time.

"Big shoutout to all the black and brown bodies in this building! Celebrate yourself, celebrate your worth!"

Chulita Vinyl Club is at the Legionnaire every second Friday of the month. And, DJ Brown Amy will be at the 2nd Annual Break It Loose Soul Weekender this weekend from June 6-10.

This story first aired in March of 2018. Audiograph is a radio project mapping the Bay Area’s sonic signature, telling the story of where you live and the people who live there with you.