Dance Music: The Multicultural Story Cumbia

At UC Santa Barbara’s Carsey-Wolf Center, filmmakers Joyce García and Alvaro Parra joined moderator and DJ, Alexandra Lippman, to talk about their two documentaries on cumbia sonidera, or Colombia-inspired dance music, in Mexico City and Los Angeles, “Yo No Soy Guapo” and “Sonidero Metropolis.”

García and Parra have explored the world of Sonidero extensively in their documentaries, illuminating the connections between sound, space, and community in this vibrant subculture. From the mechanics of cumbia tracks to how a dance floor’s energy can ebb and flow with the DJ’s playlist, the conversation dives deep into this fascinating world.

Joyce García discussed the often overlooked but vital role that women and LGBTQ+ individuals play in Sonidero culture. In the Sonidero community, women are not just dancers or audience members; they’re record collectors, organizers, and sometimes, the DJs themselves. Sonidero can be both a space of liberation and marginalization, creating a complex social tapestry that varies by location and event.

García and Parra expressed their passion for Sonidero through their unique storytelling techniques. García touched on the importance of editorial choices in her documentaries to present a narrative that is both engaging and respectful to the community it represents. Parra spoke about the aesthetic and technological elements that bring the culture to life. They emphasized that capturing the essence of a subculture goes beyond just documenting events or interviews; it involves a deep understanding and appreciation of the multifaceted relationships, history, and individual expressions that make up the community.

Don’t miss this snapshot of Sonidero culture and see how film can be an effective tool in bringing marginalized stories into mainstream awareness – inviting us all to listen, learn, and most importantly, to dance.

Watch Dance Music – The Multicultural Story Cumbia.