viernes, 13 de mayo de 2011

hugs & kisses de berlin!!!! mayo 2011

“Dancing did not even feel optional
One warm Berlin summer day we set off to Raumerweitungshalle . We rode our bikes to what felt like the middle of nowhere to find what looked more like a barn than a concert hall. It was a room that can not only be transported but also compacted and expanded. Outside there were so many people speaking Spanish, it began to feel more like Mexico than Germany. There were queers, anarchists, rockers and we even saw our german teacher. It was jam packed, but we managed to wiggle our way to the very front row. It was then we saw our first glance of The Kumbia Queers.

They looked like a traditional punk band, but from the first note they played, it was obvious they were 100% Kumbia. Dancing did not even feel optional, it felt more like when you go to the doctor and he hits you on the knee with his little hammer to see how your reflexes are. That’s what the music did. Not only to us, but to the whole room.
Never have we seen a dance floor erupt with such energy. It was hotter than hell, shirts and bras were coming off left and right, and there was more sweat than an aerobics class.
To be honest, neither one of us knew “kumbia” was a style of music, let alone what it sounded like before this concert, but it didn’t matter. As soon as these ladies started playing, everyone there became kumbia fans. It’s rare to be packed like sardines in a can, and still feel like love is in the air, but it was. The vibe was all positive and they really did transport the audience to a wonderful tropical island. It was exhilarating, so you can imagine how stoked we were when Flo, the keyboardist, told us she was a big Scream Club fan and that we would have the opportunity to interview them the next day for Hugs and Kisses.
We were excited to meet up the next day, eat some watermelon, drink some yerba mate and find out: Who were these women? What is their story?
We discovered that the Kumbia Queers is a band born out of a magical meeting in Buenos Aires. Ali, originally from Mexico, was travelling through Argentina and was invited to jam with Patricia and the rest of the crew. After 3 days of making music together and, as we’re told, laughing their asses off together, they decided that despite their rock and electro roots, they wanted to go a new direction, discover a new territory, something with different rhythms and history—they wanted to go kumbia.
Kumbia, we learned, is considered music for the common person, a low-class music in Mexico and Argentina. Most fans of rock or punk don’t like kumbia, or wouldn’t say so if they did. Only Ali and Ines were big kumbia fans, but even they didnt really know how to play it. They started with a few songs that they knew a bit that they could cover—-songs by the Cure, Madonna, Black Sabbath. They turned them kumbia. And then they turned them queer—changing the lyrics to be about women. Madonna’s La Isla Bonita became La Isla Con Chicas—-a fantasy island full of women. Black Sabbath’s Iron Man became a song about having a crush on a metal chick and trying to turn her on to kumbia music. For the members with punk rock roots—this was their chance to explore a genre with less anger and more romance, a “funny side of reality.”
The Kumbia Queers did everything in record time—in their first two months they recorded their first release, filmed their first video and went on their first Mexican tour. They got a lot of attention too—Las Isla Con Chicas was awarded the Worst Video of MTV Mexico, a feat that got them a lot of recognition and is something they are still proud of now, boasting “we are youtube queens.” I mean really, how many bands can say that. After playing gay pride in 2007 on the first tour, they began to realize that what had started as a kind of joke jamming session was evolving into a real band.
2 years and 2 albums later, they’re on their first european tour and already they’ve taken the euro queer scene by storm. When asked about the queer scene back home, we found out that its virtually non-existant. Mexico and Argentina are still very conservative, and the fight for basic women’s rights is still going strong, leaving little room for a queer scene to grow. Women are still harshly harrassed in the streets and arrested for getting abortions. Often, when women are in bands, it’s typical for their boyfriends to plug their instruments in, be their roadies, and be watchdogs to make sure no one is flirting with them.
Kumbia Queers, on the other hand, handle themselves. All are songwriters, have played in multiple bands, members like Ines are skilled in both recording and production aspects, and they most certainly “plug themselves in.”
It was common ties in the rock and punk scene that brought the members together and they all agree that their favorite audiences to play for are a mix of punks, latinos, queers, straights, musicians, rockers, artists, kids, grandmas, basically anyone that wants to get together and have fun. For them, queer is diversity.

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