Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2018 in Los Angeles & Surrounding Areas

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s my roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like my first guide, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. Events below are ALL AGES and FREE, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

3 Ecstatic Nights of African Virtuosos: Salif Keita, Noura Mint Seymali, African Guitar Summit


by Tom Nguyen

This past month, we were treated to not one, not two, but THREE nights in a row of world-class musicianship from Africa and her diaspora! In recent years, there have been a lot of international acts cancelled at the last minute due to visa issues, especially from Africa. In this even tougher climate of strict travel bans affecting many musicians, like at the recent SXSW festival, it just seems incredibly fortuitous to have so much great African talent visiting Southern California in one week: Salif Keita at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, Noura Mint Seymali at Caltech‘s Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena, and African Guitar Summit at the Aratani Theatre as part of the annual Aratani World Series in Little Tokyo.

First up was a relaxing road trip south to see legendary Salif Keita. He only had this show and another in San Francisco announced, with a pending Los Angeles date that never materialized. We left Los Angeles in the afternoon to make sure we avoided rush hour traffic for the hour and a half drive down to the Belly Up Tavern and let me tell you, it was well worth it!

It was my first time at the Belly Up, a live music institution in San Diego county since 1974! Unassuming on the outside, and gorgeous the moment you step in, its half moon shaped high ceiling recalls its origins as a US Navy prefabricated building during World War 2. From the friendly staff, to its polished wood bars, floors and stage, to its walls adorned with art work of generations of musicians who’ve played, there is a welcoming and unpretentious vibe here as well as an aura of storied musical history in this intimate venue. DJ Glenn Red, of Afro Funke and La Junta, who I carpooled with, recalled his early formative years in the 90s as a music lover and concert goer, seeing Erykah Badu and many others there, before they became big stars.

The King Salif Keita is here!!! @bellyuptavern ???

A post shared by EnClave.LA (@enclavela) on

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Our Picks for NYE 2017 in Los Angeles!


by Tom Nguyen

When I’m considering where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, I look for 3 things:

  • Great live bands and dance music we typically cover on this site.
  • It won’t break the bank (Some free, most under $30).
  • Whether big or small events, I’m looking for good vibes, not pretentiousness.

If you’re looking for the same, here are my recommendations (in order of cost): Continue Reading →

Airbnb is having a slick celebrity-studded Festival in Downtown LA and no one is talking about it

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Screenshot of airbnbopen.com

by Tom Nguyen

This morning, I noticed a musician friend announce on Facebook he would be performing on the same stage with bands like Maroon 5 at Airbnb Open 2016, a festival hosted by Airbnb in downtown Los Angeles November 17-19. It’s an annual community gathering and festival of hosting that brought together 5000 hosts from 110 countries at last year’s festival in Paris, France. This year, the festival offers music, art, food and talks by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher, and according to their press release, will “highlight the thriving downtown area of LA, taking place across four historic theatres and involving many local restaurants, cafes and other small businesses.”

It sounds great doesn’t it? It’s just no one in our communities knows about it because there is a vacuum of press that this is happening this week. LA Times, LA Weekly and Curbed.com which regularly write about neighborhood complaints about Airbnb, the effects of these short term rentals on LA’s already insufficient supply of renta units, and the city’s efforts to regulate them, are curiously silent. The only news I found were on My News LA and Timeout back in July when the festival was first announced.

Curbed.LA wrote a great piece “Airbnb vs. the city: How short-term rentals are changing urban neighborhoods” just last week. The article gives a good summary of Airbnb’s history from its founding in San Francisco in 2007, it’s tremendous growth, estimated to grow 89% from $900 million in 2015 to an estimated $1.7 billion this year, and how cities across the country are increasingly cracking down and grappling with how to enforce and regulate what are essentially illegal hotels. Curbed.LA says “2016 has been a year of backlash against illegal short-term rentals.” It’s no wonder Airbnb and its high powered PR are staying mum on this week’s festival. If the festival flies under the radar the way their short term rentals do, away from too much scrutiny, Airbnb and their gathered hosts won’t have to answer difficult questions, like those posed by ShareBetter.org and a few other critics I found while searching under #AirbnbOpen hashtag on Twitter.

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Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2016 in Los Angeles

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s our roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like last year, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

Exclusive Mix from CuLosAngeles, new Tropical Bass party in LA bridging Pan African sounds and Queer identity

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by Tom Nguyen

We’re proud to premiere the latest mix by DJ Broso, who together with DJs Bianca Oblivion and Francesca Harding, are the musical geniuses behind a new tropical bass party in downtown Los Angeles called CuLosAngeles (ya you heard that right!) whose goal is to melt your booty on the dance floor. I’ll let Broso explain…

testHOW’D YOU MEET…

CuLosAngeles was the brainchild of me and Bianca Oblivion. I had just moved here from Guatemala last August and Bianca arrived shortly afterwards from Boston where she was completing her graduate degree. Our mutual DJ friend, Dudley, who used to throw amazing Tropical Bass parties in Boston connected us so we met up and immediately started geeking out together. We ate at Roscoe’s and then came back to my place and just played music for each other for hours and talked about everything we loved and wanted to see.

13041282_1173742045969421_2725761309457081082_oWhen it came to rounding out the roster, we both knew Francesca Harding (formerly known as DJ Panamami) was a perfect fit to join us since she is a monstrous DJ who has a more Organic and Latino approach to party music as opposed to my heavily Hood and Caribbean focus and Bianca’s more Electronic and Club oriented sound. The final piece of the puzzle was bringing my close friend Christopher Eclipse on board as our host. His charisma, sense of humor, lavish outfits and ability to lead the whole party in dance are like the perfect frosting on the CuLosAngeles cupcake. Continue Reading →

Loving Day Weekend: Mixed Remixed Festival, Nana Dijo and Blaxicans

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by Tom Nguyen

Sunday, June 12 is Loving Day, a holiday commemorating the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia that struck down bans against interracial marriage and multiracial families. In this election year of open racism and blatant xenophobia, it’s so important for us to remember the hard-fought victories by people like Mildred and Richard Loving to overcome hatred and intolerance enforced by the very laws of the land.

The folks who have always swam against societal currents that pressure us to stay segregated are the folks who dare cross the color lines for love. While the majority of couples prefer to date their own race or ethnicity, interracial unions are on the rise! According to Pew Research, “Multiracial Americans are at the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the U.S.—young, proud, tolerant and growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole.”

Despite their growth (currently about 10% of US households), biracial and multiracial individuals, couples and families are an exceedingly complex group, many of whom feel very misunderstood by their own families and communities at large. They face different forms of discrimination, intolerance and misunderstanding, depending on their combination of race and ethnicity, and are underrepresented in public policy, health care issues, media and more.

One festival which aims to raise awareness on the mixed race experience is Mixed Remixed Festival, which is the nation’s largest gathering of mixed-race and multiracial families and people, taking place at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles, June 10-11, 2016. In its third year, the all-volunteer festival is free to the public and brings together film and book lovers, innovative and emerging artists, and multiracial and multicultural families and individuals for workshops, readings, performances, and film screenings.

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8th Annual Hola Mexican Film Festival: Top 10 Picks and Interview with founder Samuel Douek

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by Tom Nguyen

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©2015 WilkiIMAGE Photo By Wilki W.K. Tom

The 8th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival which showcases the most recent cinema from Mexico opens this Friday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 22, in downtown Los Angeles. I had a really enlightening conversation with founder Samuel Douek who gave me a frank, honest insider look at the challenges of putting this festival together and marketing it beyond just the Mexican American community in Los Angeles. As daunting as it is, Douek and his hard-working team have put this festival on 8 years strong and I hope you come out and support it! My top 10 picks follow our interview:

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Weekly Highlights: Irene Diaz, Parched at Indian Film Festival, and Best Thing Since new hip hop night

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by Tom Nguyen

Thanks to Irene Diaz and Carolyn Cardoza, I attended my first Sofar Sounds event to see them perform. Sofar Sounds hosts these intimate mini-concerts featuring independent artists in people’s living rooms throughout the world. The all-volunteer event was really well run and the crowd attentive and respectful, about 40 of us all sitting on the living room. Kudos to the homeowner for letting a group of strangers into his home to enjoy a great lineup of 3 artists, who each played about 3-4 songs. Here’s a taste of Irene’s captivating performance with Carolyn by her side on ukulele:

IMG_7309 (1)This Saturday, April 16, Irene and Carolyn will have a video premiere party for the new song “This Cannot Be” at downtown’s Civic Center Studios. They’re putting on this all-ages show by themselves with the help of Elefante Collective and want to make it more than just an intimate music show. There will be snacks, a bar, photo booth by Las Fotos Project and information table by Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) — they want to create a welcoming space for all to share, hear and discuss stories about life, love and hardships in the LGBTQ community. Please come out and support!

 

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Pico Union Project Unites Community through Faith, Music and Outreach

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Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

Located on the corner of Valencia and 12th, near the middle of the Pico Union district, the local non-profit organization Pico Union Project (PUP) stands tall in a community as diverse as its members. No matter what your background, PUP is proud in welcoming any and all members of the community looking for a space of inclusion and respect, a basis of their core Jewish values that they actively promote.

“We’re a multi-faith community space based around the idea of using arts to promote bridges between different cultures, different faiths, different communities,” said Jason Chu, Chief Storytelling Officer at the Pico Union Project. “There’s a Jewish community that makes this home. There’s actually the first women’s mosque in America…in the Muslim community, that is controversial, but they make their home here.” Continue Reading →