Posts Tagged ‘latin house music’

LEGO 17.07.11

July 18, 2011



Bright sunrays bounced off high-definition glass windows that sprinkled beams of translucent light to the lobby’s 16th floor. From the hotel’s lift and making a quick left in front of RELAX; the spa lies the entrance to the air conditioned almost too cold SPLASHBAR. “Welcome,” stated the statuesque burly caramel complexion gatekeeper with a friendly face full of intelligence that checked I.D.’s and granted entrance to the pool’s bar. Scoping the relaxed site there seemed to be more souls ordering hand crafted liqueurs, caught up in artful conversations than people basking in the sun drenched waters of SPLASH the all-weather covered rooftop pool. Actually, there couldn’t be more than twenty hipsters hugging SPLASHBAR as the soundtrack of soulful house music mixed and mingled with the chattering. The absence of warmth felt strange. Once upon a time SPLAH, SPLASHBAR and the patio’s small dance space in front of the DJ table were packed with diversity which begs the question, “What happened to the Soul?”

Two summers ago, the debut of the pool party was met with brilliant fanfare and whimsical hype. Party people from all walks of life frequented the wet spot to get their dance, swim and drink on. Sculpted hard bodies balanced on the zero-edge pool while curvatious creatures suntanned to the beat. Fully clothed dancers wearing sneakers gathered on the patio’s open space to sing and bust moves in one inch waters that overflowed from the pool. Those scantily clad in designer bathing suits and Bermuda swim trunks posed for flashing cameras with pearly white veneers underneath pseudo expensive stunners for the city’s elite photo-philes. Pretty in pink dressed drinks topped with real fruit and blood orange cocktails kept the hunks and hotties behind the bar a pouring. The sound of water splashes combed with the sight of mini-tides greeted out of town hotel guests as local visionaries played an array of dance, house, reggae and other underground sounds. Yes, this was the perfect place to be on a Sunday afternoon. All went well for the remainder of the season.

By the following summer the cosmopolitan environment somewhat transformed. Rather be it the hotel management, hotel staff or the progression of the pool’s party direction, something felt incoherent. The attraction succumbed to the ideal see and be seen spot. Thongs swallowed by big butts and wife beaters with sagging trousers became the du jour while numerous requests for mainstream urban and commercial hip-hop went unfulfilled. No one danced to the “uhms, uhms, uhms” falling from the digitally enhanced overhead sound system, instead the reluctant preferred sun basking with an up tipped nose in the air. In return, the house heads stopped coming out. Many of the city’s photographer’s cameras were closed shut in leather cases as the hotel management preferred their own “paparazzi.” Suddenly, a different image took shape, one of less diversity and one more oriented towards the youthful waxed guidos and blonde ambitions with hair extensions. Think Jersey Shore meets boutique hotel. The demographics became sticky as the ebony population played at the left side of SPLASH while the ivory population played on the right side. This segregation never occurred the previous year which begs to mention something was up. Hotel security beefed up tighter control of SPLASHBAR and sent regular patrols mimicking the secret service with hi-tech ear gear and black shades. Gone were the snapshots where dancers met swimmers and exchanged brief transactions of small talk. Even the music had lost its edge. Gone was the scheduled line-up of eclectic DJs known for rocking off kilter music statements. Somewhere along, “stepping backwards” the soul was lost for a more exclusive looking package.

Fast forward to present day. At the worthy suggestion of a close friend, one of Chicago’s famed house music DJs was booked to play SPLASH. House music trail blazer Rafael Rodriguez a.k.a Lego of Pootin Muzik was in the house. Let’s be real people, LEGO is the man. Having secured the longest running night– Monday nights-in house music history at Chicago’s famed Boom Boom Room, Lego is no joke. Sadly, only three people dancing on the wet space welcomed Mr. Rodriguez to the decks. Everyone else could have cared less. There was a group of fifteen tan bodies seated on the zero-less pool‘s edge enjoying the view of vertical giant metal steel beams decorating downtown’s skyline. Two gay guys worked on tans, fully reclined in two separate lounge chairs, one with his eyes closed while the other read a book. What the heck, reading a book at a pool party. This was not the private pool at the senior citizen’s resort. Then there were the, “I’m too good to dance” hotties stretched out in long white lounge chairs. No one from the indoor bar took note. They all kept glued to their petty small talk about the latest whatevers. Please people, shut up and dance.

Lego started off the music just right with that Latin house sound akin to west coast Om Records and Naked Music. After a couple of starters Everything But The Girl’s, “Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars)” the Knee Deep Classic Club Mix segued into Lego’s very own creation, “El Rito De Verdad.” Lego took the few dancers bouncing about on a wonderful Sunday afternoon ride through the towns of latin, soulful, deep and even funky house. The get down vocals of the late Loleatta Holloway’s, “Love Sensation” played over a snazzy groove of soft drums and acoustic guitars that welcomed Yoruba Record’s “Change For Me” (Joey Negro Mix) with Errol’s soul-stirring vocals that had the dancers singing at the top of their lungs while the non-house heads seated by and swimming in the pool nodded heads with white smiles of approval. With temperatures hovering in the upper 80’s a feel good wind blew through the air that made hearts merry not with wine but with house music. This was the true spirit of house music that uplifted souls and put smiles on faces. Other spirited offerings included a discoesque, “The Light” by inspirational sensationalist Michelle Weeks. Seems Lego is primed as one of those uplifting DJ’s because later Soulmagic’s & Ebony Soul’s, “Get Your Thing Together” with gospel diva Ann Nesby played from Purple Music’s catalog. There was the latin-tinged “Star” by U.K.’s Reel People with hair raising vocals from Tony Momrelle that had Lego with head-tilted upwards and eyes close lip-syncing, “You’re Like A Star/Perfectly Shining So Bright.” Lego even made a splash into the deep sparkling waters-not the pool’s waters but the deep waters of deep house music with “Headphone Silence” from Henrick Schwarz via Dennis Ferrer’s Noizy Edit. Wow, what a way to remind the dancing people about this forgotten gem. Soon, Jazztronik’s Spanish sensation, “Dentro Mi Alma” stripped to the bare bone courtesy of Osunlade thumped with bass until mid-song when the record skipped in repeated stutters. Oops. Anyways this type of sound distraction occurs, normally if the CD is not cleaned or scratched, but a veteran DJ knows how to come back with another sure fire track. Depeche Mode’s, “World In My Eyes” (Jask’s Deep Burnt Sky Mix) had all the makings for the perfect summer thumper. With arms stretched in mid-air and mouths screaming, “Yessss” there was no stopping the soul from being drenched on the peoples. The screams were so loud they had to be heard three blocks away across the city streets down below. Yes, this was house music that made complete strangers pay attention. Once again, courtesy of Jask, neo-soul crooner, Maxwell’s, “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)”(Jask Soul Suite) pounded the heart with a killer four-count that topped off the event with a round of warm goodbyes and several heartfelt thank-yous. As the souls cleared SPLASH there was no wonder to the question, “Where was the soul?” Lego put the soul back into the sunny side pool event. Unfortunately, the lack of souls missing missed the momentous occasion.

Photography by Chris Marley


October 17, 2010


Around the room, African Queens draped in pink-except for the big breasted which were reduced to wearing brown tees- displayed staunch allegiance to fight breast cancer. Every shade of pink from neon, traditional, to faded and every pink pattern from solids, stripes to polka-dots were within view. If one was without the night’s monochromatic theme of hot pink Tambor tees for the Queens and brown Tambor tees for the King’s they were available for purchase in the dining section of the club with all proceeds going to a breast cancer awareness organization. The room dressed with modest pinks and browns for a common cause displayed a unified vision of all tribesters dressed in one accord awaiting Tambor’s femme fatale.

This was Tambor’s first all female DJ line-up to aid the fight against breast cancer. Earlier, the first femme fatale, Miss Kai from Capital City decked in pink and green from head to toe, smoked the room with broken beat, deep house and full on house sounds. Miss Kai’s unique blend of genre hopping caused the early birds to work up a sweet sweat before the night’s main event and special guest talent.

At last the goddess stood at least six feet plus in pumps that allowed her to hover over the crowd like a spiritual deity. In another life she could have easily been a top model but tonight she was an ass- kicking superhero about to beat the shit out of breast cancer. Her six foot frame half covered by a hot pink Tambor tee and blue denim with magical golden locks free and natural protruding from a perfectly squared face with soft doe eyes marked her arrival behind the DJ table. Mrs. Anane Vega was ready to wreak havoc and tear up the room with dirty tribal beats. Anane attacked like some comic book karate assassin with deadly kicks backed by deadly arm thrusts. She was a musical black belt; a singer, songwriter, songstress, DJ and music producer all rolled up in one that possessed unprecedented beauty only reserved for gods and goddesses. There was no stopping this Femme Fatale except for the brief second the music stopped due to technical difficulties (oops). Even then she picked up right where she left off- kicking ass musical style. She was out to leave not one soul unscathed by her musical fury. She wouldn’t stop till everyone in the room was transported to African dressed in loin clothes.

All was under her spell of majestic beauty and tribal assault. In the room the women lost their minds to their fearless musical leader and the men lost their minds beholding such beauty. Never had the tribesters witnessed a goddess from the islands off South Africa kicking ass with splendor.

Anane jacked the room with stellar beats and the occassional vocals. Some time during the heavy bass hitting night, a female’s vocal appeared from nowhere singing, “Give It 2 U.” It was the voice of uber-diva, Ultra Nate flawlessly fluttering over an orchestra laden Quentin Harris house production with no effort. Without notice, low chants of, “Oh man, Oh man,” echoed throughout the building. The male vocals seemed to rise from the ground as haunting ghosts taking everyone by surprise. It was Black Coffee’s, “JuJu” the percussion driven re-edit equipped with finger snaps that sent the tribesters into pandemonium. However, not to be outdone, Anane dropped the vocal killer, “Plastic People” the first single off her debut composition. The deep house tune with penned lyrics, “Plastic People/I See Thru Your Evil” illustrated the hearts of haters with evil intentions to do the innocent wrong.

Evidently, Anane the night’s main attraction felt relief after her “Afro-Tech” set soaked with heavy beats and tech effects took to the floor to dance during the night’s closing number-a song from another native West Coast African islander. Anane two-stepped in circles with several loyal tribesters that were all greeted with pearly smiles and hearty hugs as the song concluded. Everyone seemed especially happy to be embraced by the glamazon from the land afar. Thank God she was not aloof but possessing grace and humility not the kind of attitude one would expect from a musical ass-kicking femme fatale.

That night, breast cancer got the shit knocked out of it. Unable to stand, the ailment fled the room in an embarrassing defeat. Take that. Once again, Tambor won the battle. This time with help from Les Femme Fatale. The End.

Photography by Carlos J. Bell

Video by Ari Johnson/courtesy of Stan Zeff


May 21, 2010


It had been five whole years since Louie Vega played at the mega niteclub Compound. This moment had taken too long to come and this moment would not to be missed for anything in the world.

The room, quickly surveyed, revealed a pathetic abandoned emptiness. It reeked of a lonely silence except for the music played by Louie Vega. Yes, the legendary Mr. Vega hailing from Miami via Bronx was already on the 1’s and 2’s. The lack of bodies present presented a major problem as the cell phone displayed Friday, 12:05 am. The abundance of prime dance space proved highly unusual for a house music legend’s set. Fortunately, the floor wasn’t completely empty. There had to be at least ten house disciples already in mid-dance. Statuesque and poised stood several onlookers against walls in astonishment as if unsure of what they were to do in a dance club with a wide empty dance floor that beckoned to be inhibited.

Back on the decks, Louie delivered arsenal after arsenal of hits that destroyed the crowd. The few left standing hooped and hollered with such extreme aggression it caused the room to rock with jubilation. Then like fire from the sky fell the crowd’s favorite, “Twisted” Louie’s rework of a dance diva’s classic. Around the club people twirled in the air and spun in circles to the lyrics, “You’ve got me twisted on your love.” How appropriate as people yelled the lyrics in sheer delight. This felt more like heaven than a niteclub; a kind of twisted heaven where the wooden dance floor transformed into streets of gold.

After a short transition of tweaking the mixer’s knobs, Louie stepped aside. Interestingly, Louie exited the decks to make room for his wife, Mrs. Anane Vega. Was he really finished? He’d only been on deck for 45 minutes. That wasn’t long enough to be teased by such quintessential tunes.

Within a moment’s breath, Anane set up shop. WOW, what beauty! You’ve got to be kidding. What can she do on those decks that Louie hasn’t already done? Sure she can stand on stage and look good but what about her skills on the steel? With rapid dissension, Anane moved between the 1’s and 2’s with a soulful bounce as if ready to drop a new born child into the crowd. Behind the glamazon played an amazing black and white concept video of her new single. What ingenious marketing.

Then the build-up of anticipation occurred that aroused an energy that took prisoner one-by-one the followers on the dance floor. Suddenly, the people were arrested with a penetrable force not from Anane’s untouchable beauty but from what was to come. What followed was an auditory delight of deep house and afro-beat that descended upon the crowd as holy water. What was this sacred force that cultivated every being in attendance to jump and behave like wild unrestraint animals at a petting zoo? The room went crazy. Literally, the atmosphere transcended into an otherworld of talking African drums when the club’s walls fell down and gave way to Africa’s Amazon jungles.

For the rest of the night, Anane slew the room with her rhythmic conquest. The music brought out dance moves never before rehearsed. Legs were stretched in the air and arms swung to and fro as if in tantra positions. The music continued to stretch every vein, joint and muscle present in the room. Never had the crowd danced so deep in what seemed like ages.

Photogrpahy by John Crooms