Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, members of San Antonio’s LGBT community gathered to host a vogue ball – the first of its kind in San Antonio. A two minute and ten-second Youtube video captures the best moments of the event, and the worst. At first it looks like a huge success – the room is packed, people are laughing and smiling and dancing their asses off. Then, at the 1:24 mark, the mood changes drastically – from jubilant celebration to something more sinister. As the words “Happy Independence Day” appear on the screen, we witness a crackdown of the event by the San Antonio Police Department and the arrest of some of the organizers. One of the organizers, a woman of color, is tackled to the ground and handcuffed, topless.
Henry Rodriguez aka DJ Puppybutt, was djing this night and witnessed the whole thing go down. He recalls that a group by the name House of Kenzo, which is a group composed of queer and trans people of color, hosted the party. “We were just about wrapping up the event, and suddenly one of the dancers named Breezy found herself being manhandled by 3 large male cops. Literally, right in front of all of the attendees. They blocked everyone off from exiting for nearly 20 minutes until they finally handcuffed 3 women of color and one Latino male.”
As people gathered outside, it was reported that nearly 9 SAPD vehicles, including SUVs and a paddy wagon, were in front of the venue’s entrance. Luckily, everyone who had been arrested that night has since been released.
A House of Kenzo member told Puppybutt that night “it’s not only hard out here being gay or trans or black, but also being (sic) cunt. We didn’t know if SAPD’s intentions were to take down an event they were uneducated on, but something felt off when they took in a rainbow flag as evidence.”
This attack on their efforts by the SAPD highlights the need for marginalized black and brown communities here for a safe place to be self expressive. As a Mexican-American queer DJ residing San Antonio, Puppybutt is looking to create this space. He shared with us how he got into DJing, his new event, and why he began to add his voice to the city’s growing voice of discontent.
Tell us a little bit about what it’s like in San Antonio.
We’re living in the Red South. Although San Antonio can be a very welcoming city, that doesn’t mean it’s one hundred percent free of misogyny, racism, or homo/transphobia. We still put up with a lot. As QTPOC, we’re automatically targets for murder, sexual assault, bashing, etc. San Antonio has a lot of culture and a lot of Latin pride. Nightlife-wise, the LGBTQ scene tends to be a little more low-key than other major cities around Texas, but one thing I love about SA is that these maniacs will want to dance to anything. The underground scene here is pretty popping and growing largely. I’ve see some really crazy alley raves being thrown here as well as more artistic events. There’s way more happening here on weekends than most would think. I’m actually really happy to be seeing more collectives of women/feminists coming together to play music and throw parties, both here in San Antonio and in Austin. Its pretty major to me seeing more femme energy in an industry that’s male dominated.
One thing I love about SA is that these maniacs will dance to anything.
So tell us about this new event you’re starting here in SA called ‘Latinx’.
‘Latinx’ is something we started seeing a lot more frequently online. It describes people of Latina/Latino descent without binding the people to a specific gender. My friend Kat and I, who came up with the concept of the night, were speaking about recent events in which we witnessed friends get mistreated at ‘gay’ nightclubs/parties. All of which were either black, female, or trans*. It’s enough that we’ve felt constantly bombarded by patriarchal standards, but what was unfortunate for us was that this was happening in spaces that were deemed ‘safe’ and ‘open’. It felt extremely violating and seeing some of my best and new friends get this sort of treatment.
What makes Latinx different from other events in other Texas cities?
There are so many parties happening around Texas that are going off right now. I think what separates Latinx from the rest are the political undertones we want to bring to the forefront. Of course we want everyone to come in and dance, go HAM, rage, etc. But a lot of our influences and heroes have pointed out the importance of spaces that are politically aware. Some of my personal favorite artists have helped me realize the importance of raising a socioeconomic platform for local QTPOC artists. We’re in some pretty progressive times socially and politically; we’re far from a perfect society. But the QTPOC underground scene feels so much like a family. There’s a lot of up-and-coming artists around here that need a little help getting noticed, so with Latinx, we want to be able to use our platform to showcase this overlooked talent. It’s a dance party that celebrates identity, art, pain, and experience.
[It’s about] raising a socioeconomic platform for local QTPOC artists.
Do you see a parallel with what you’re doing with other people around the country?
Absolutely! Since growing up online, I’ve watched parties from other major cities happen at a distance. I can say we’ve been influenced by the courage of other artists/promoters/DJs alike that have paved the way for young people such as Kat, my friends, and I. It’s a brave move taking matters into your own hands and watching it unfold; it could end up either a success or a mess. I don’t want to namedrop, although I do have a quite a roster of people I’d wish to personally thank for positively influencing, not only me, but also the paradigm shift for nightlife. Without these alternatives, without political rage, without feminism, without self-defense, we’d almost have nowhere to go. These parties happening in other cities have shown us that its possible. Somewhere were we can be ‘us’ as we wanted. It’s what makes Latinx the party its intended to be.
Latinx takes place on July 30th at The Phantom Room in San Antonio with DJ’s Mary Magdalena, Puppybutt, Terpsi, Le Def, Virtualboyfren, and Dandalt. More info about the event here.