It was a 93 degree afternoon in Boyle Heights, CA with hot concrete, thick summer air, and the charm of local señores in their mariachi uniforms gathered to await the next music gig. The Chulitas Vinyl Club Los Angeles chapter agreed to meet up in Mariachi Plaza for a quick street photo shoot and some conversation. Chulita Vinyl Club believes in bringing “girls to the front” to share music. It was exciting to see this chapter of vinyl spinners develop in Southern California. Though the concept developed in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, SoCal and Bay Area Chulitas are making it their own. New Chapters continue to come up as established chapters grow and include new members. The Chulitas and I took a necessary break for hot cheetos, sodas de botella and sour candies from a local-owned corner store. They shared some of their favorite records and explored fun photo concepts. I was interested in capturing a profile of each member. Although the club is called “Chulita” which means precious girl in Spanish, some of the LA chapter members identify as they/them and not as she/her. Check out the LA Chapter’s interview:
Through being a part of Chulita Vinyl Club, have ya’ll experienced anything that feels revolutionary to you?
Definitely, we feel it is important as women of color to constantly take up space. We feel representation of women of color in a very male, white and patriarchal dominated scene is extremely necessary and we are constantly working with ourselves and each other to constantly break these norms. Although to some it may not seem revolutionary because we are only “playing music,” we feel we are fighting against our erasure and the erasure of our culture – using music and vinyl to tell stories of our past, and even stories of our present.
What makes the Los Angeles Chapter unique? Are there things that distinguish it because of specific challenges, culture, history, region, etc?
Although all chapters hold the Chulita Vinyl Club name, we all work more or less autonomously while still adhering to certain agreements. We feel what makes the LA Chapter unique is that all of us come from a background of organizing and community work – we are self-identifying artists, photographers and musicians and one member is also a mother. We feel the work we do in our personal lives intersect with the work we do in Chulita Vinyl Club. We have made conscious collective decisions to be intentional with spaces and events we agree to play at that are not contributing to any forms of gentrification and displacement nor have any racist, sexist or transphobic undertones.
DJ Frijoles Negros:
After a rough day, what music cheers you up? Los Angeles, Negros and/or Album De Oro – “one way ticket to sad town”
What was one of your best vinyl finds? Louis Prima, Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witnesses for $1 and honestly is has been one of my favorite albums, possibly top 5.
DJ Que Madre:
After a rough day, what music cheers you up? John Coltrane, Roy Eldrigde, Dizzy Gillespie “or just some Aalliyah, ‘cause thas’ my babygirl”
What was one of your best vinyl finds? I have all 12 volumes of the East Side Story Collection and 1 Gold Volume. It took me a few years to collect them all – I bought some at a few record shops, some were gifted to me and I got some online. Those are most definately my prize possessions.
DJ Bien Buena:
After a rough day, what music cheers you up? Donna Summer – “I have the greatest hits though, so nothing but the bangers”
What was one of your best vinyl finds? All my Free 99 ones like El General that was a legit come up from my mom’s ex bf.
After a rough day, what music cheers you up? The Love Lites and/or Wendy Rene – “the sadder the better”
What was one of your best vinyl finds? Barbara Mason “Oh how it hurts” for $1 – it wasn’t a 45 and it was in great condition
DJ La Infinita Tristeza:
After a rough day, what music cheers you up? Junior Kimbrough or Kenny Dorham “so I can keep fucking myself up”
What was one of your best vinyl finds? La Infinita Tristeza: The last one I can remember was actually gifted to me, Jeannette: Corazon de Poeta
Check out the Latest Mix by Chulita Vinyl Club LA by DJ Bien Buena (Nuves)
Article and photographs by Arlene Mejorado