Your body has no choice but to dance when the Latin DJ collective Peligrosa takes the stage to spin everything from merengue to electro funk. Mixing what they call a "Nu Latin Sound," this group of accomplished DJs has brought a Latino dance party movement to Austin that's been growing in popularity throughout the country and popping up in cities such as New York, San Francisco and Boston.
Peligrosa will play Friday at the Pachanga Latino Music Festival alongside acts such as Puerto Rican hip-hop powerhouse Calle 13. But they have their own pachanga at the Scoot Inn every third Friday of the month when Peligrosa throws the city's premier Latin dance party. Peligrosa was born after Orión García invited several local DJs to join him on stage at a weekly gig more than five years ago.
"We had amazing chemistry, so much so that when we played together there would be a line outside and people had trouble getting in," García said. "We knew we needed a bigger place."
The first Peligrosa dance party launched at the Scoot Inn in 2007.
Through the years, Peligrosa has gradually added members to the collective and is currently formed by six DJs — Orión García (Orion), Trey Lopez (Manolo Black), Dusty Oliveira (El Dusty), Jaime Mayo (Pagame), Joseph Albert (Sonora) and Luis Espada (King Louie). Adding a multisensory dance party experience are photographer Marcos Molina (Quito) and Chris Jackson (VJ 4th Wall) who handles audio and visuals.
Peligrosa's multimedia side has gradually grown. "I like incorporating video into the parties," Garcia said. "It adds additional movement to an already dancing crowd. I'm thinking at some point very soon we're going to need a stage tech like the theater kind ... for a wilder presentation."
Ahead of their Pachanga performance, we spoke with Peligrosa founding member García to find out more about how they've raised Austin's profile in the national Latin dance party movement.
American-Statesman: What was the idea behind launching the Peligrosa collective? What's been the philosophy of the group?
Orión García: After realizing that I was supplying a demand for Latin music that wasn't being met anywhere else in Austin nightclubs, I both knew and had the urge to create a dedicated night for the music I grew up with (mostly Colombian cumbia and Puerto Rican salsa, plena and son). By this point in my DJ career I learned that there is strength in numbers. I also knew that I had a lot more to learn about music from Mexico, Brazil and other countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America, so what better way to do so than to reach out to the very few DJs I heard playing this sound that wasn't from the U.S.
At the time of inception and to this day we maintain that these sounds from our mother and fatherlands can have a place in the club no matter how archaic, antiquated or un-poppy the sounds may be. Quite a bit of the stories told in old cumbias, for example, are depressing, sad, tragic and unjust, but they are sung and played in a manner that lifts those burdens.
I think a lot of people go to the club to free themselves of those same burdens, so from the beginning of Peligrosa, it has been a natural fit for us to play these sounds in the nightclubs. I'm very aware that I need to be responsible for continuing to spread the sounds I grew up with, and I will do so for as long as I can.
How does having so many personalities involved in the collective affect the Peligrosa sound?
On any given day, the Peligrosa sound can be any variety of different styles, from the most rudimentary traditional instrumental to a heavy club banging remix of a more well-known Celso Piña track, and this goes for each individual in the crew, so imagine six DJs together! The flexibility of the Peligrosa sound is what makes us strong and allows us the opportunity to feel out a crowd in a party setting.
Although you guys mix up all kinds of different rhythms in your music, Latin beats are still an important foundation for you all. Why is this sound important to you and a new generation of Latin music listeners?
The traditional sounds are my favorite still and probably will always be. It's important to me to play the traditional music because these days it's so easy to want to be a part of the future and forget the past.
Some of the sounds I like today aren't around anymore; they're lost in stacks of dusty vinyl and in private collections. So it's still exciting for me to find a sound and share it. The latest sound I'm becoming addicted to is champeta, which comes from the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia.
I went there and brought back music to play in Austin. That's about the only way to get your hands on this sound (which) has a story ... and those stories can be told through playing the music.
Contact Nancy Flores at 912-2559.