On the dance floor at the Legionnaire Ballroom in downtown Oakland, every second Friday, hordes of women and femmes get down as the DJ’s spin classic cumbia, reggaetón del viejo, funk, rock, and rare 45s.
It’s not like any other Friday: for the people of color who feel excluded from Oakland’s changing landscape, the event offers the comfort of a family reunion, a place where black and brown people can be themselves.
“Our families are, like, at risk of deportation, our families are being criminalized,” says Lulu Matute, one attendee. “But yet we are still able to find find some beauty, you know, in the struggle to be able to turn up.”
The DJ’s hosting the throwback party are known as the Chulita Vinyl Club, an all-vinyl, “womxn of color” collective with seven chapters across the Southwest, from the Bay Area to Austin, Texas, where it was founded four years ago. They create safe spaces for bicultural millennials to dance to a nostalgic mix of oldies, pop, and hip hop that feels just like home.
During the collective’s three-year anniversary, members of the Bay Area chapter of Chulita Vinyl Club spoke to spoke with KALW’s Marisol Medina-Cadena about how they put their own spin on cultural and gender identity. Listen to the story from KALW here: