NY Skate Crew Brujas Is Smashing the Patriarchy on the West Coast for 2-Week Tour

Photo: Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

Brujas, the now notorious New York-based skate crew and collective, is on a West Coast tour with the Oakland-based band War of Icaza. During the two-week tour, Brujas will be hosting warehouse parties in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Portland while uniting girl skaters at the skate parks they encounter along the way.

The Brujas are known for being a radical force of organizers promoting femme power in skate parks, championing diversity in music line-ups, and creating gender-inclusive spaces for the youth of New York City. All around, they are challenging patriarchy and white supremacy while bridging the gap between public space and safe space for women and the queer community. In the last six months, they’ve been highlighted in numerous publications, even getting a full-blown feature in The New York Times. It’s become clear that their message resonates with many. Whether it’s throwing an anti-slut shaming party called Sucia, hosting all-age anti-proms for teens to promote gender-expansiveness, or talking about burning down prisons, the Brujas have no problem highlighting their political ideologies no matter how controversial.

Just yesterday, the Brujas launched a streetwear line called 1971 with the intent to raise money to support people caught up in the New York State prison system. Their efforts to promote the abolition of the prison industrial complex is but one of the instances where their politics take center stage. And on this Bruja Wars tour, they aim to create networks with other like-minded collectives on the West Coast, while screaming “death to all-male line ups!” Other hosts of the event in L.A. are Veteranas and Rucas, the Southern California Chicana archival project created by artist Guadalupe Rosales, Ni Santas, an all-women of color art collective, and an underwear company from New York called Thundress.

Photo: Victoria Velasco for Mask
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We caught up with Bruja Arianna Gil to talk about the Bruja War tour, why Brujas has really taken off, and what they’re excited to do on the West Coast.

What is Bruja Wars all about?

It’s the Brainchild of Brujas and Icaza coming together for a two-week West Coast mini-tour.

We’re throwing warehouse parties and are very excited about the one in LA because it came together so beautifully. All these dope collectives of women who do things great work came together. It’s super fire. All these Chicana brown girl collectives are co-hosting, and there’s mad queer “femme to the front” power.

Who is taking part?

The three hosts are Ni Santas, Veteranas and Rucas and some homies from New York who have a non-toxic underwear company called Thundress. The line-up for talent is Brujas, who will do an hour and a half DJ set and Icaza who dropped a new album on Indigenous People’s Day called Fuck 12 since 1492. Coneja a cute DJ and model from LA is DJing. Then there’s another DJ named CrassLos, a dope queer artist and vinyl DJ. Then there’s Chulita Vinyl Club and another group called Ciratch B2b Skumbagfader.

What will Brujas be playing during their DJ set?

We’ll be doing the classic set I’ve been doing at Ghe20 G0th1k this summer. A sort of dancehall, old school reggaeton, playero, progressive latin 90s set. And also rap.

Everybody has learned to DJ but we’re all on different levels so I’m integrating the other girls song selections into my set.

Who else is with you on the tour?

Samantha Olivieri who has been with Brujas since the beginning. She’s a skater, fashionista, photographer and is going to take the photos from the trip. Antonia Perez is one of my oldest homegirls and really into herbal medicine. She’ll be cooking for us and making us tea, kinda being our tour manager. She’s like our herbal medicine mom. haha. Then there’s DeeDee Warden who is going to skate and try to get tricks for the video. It’s the four of us.

Tell me about what is going down on this West Coast tour.

We’re throwing warehouse parties, but we’re also doing open skates in every city that we stop in. We’ll have a day at the skate park if girls want to come out and skate with us, or if girls just want to have a brown girl moment at the park. In LA, Oakland, and Portland we’ll do something similar in each city. We’re also doing a closed-door workshop with Ni Santas that’s more about our two groups building together.

Portland is interesting because we’re doing a house party, a fundraiser, and speaking at Reed College as panelists and hosting a capture the flag game. The college directly booked us but it’s open to the public. I wanted to use that to do something silly. Capture the flag is mad fun and it’s something we do in the Bronx.

We’re also doing a skate edit. We brought DeeDee who is one of our really talented skateboarders. She’s mad good at skating so we’re going to film and put out a skateboarding edit. It’s an eclectic tour to do something together and meet people and have fun.

We’re also excited for our tour merch to come out. The designer for the tour merch had his stuff on HypeBeast and he’s an ill designer. We’ve also been getting more into streetwear and conceiving of streetwear as agitational propaganda to identify tribe and say stuff that’s hard to say in other ways.

Photo: Ben Grieme for Vogue
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Brujas is doing so many things at once!

We’re having so much fun. My Instagram is mad full of people who have embraced the concept everybody from rappers from the Lower East Side to this cute Dominican girl from Fort Lee….

Why do you think people really vibe with the concept of Brujas?

I think it is a strong concept that has historical roots. Most people have some sort of connection to brujeria and then also the way we’ve navigated our public relationships. We’ve consistently put out a strong message about our politics, gender politics, anti-racist politics, anti-gentrification politics, decolonial politics, in a way that is refreshing. In New York you have a lot of kids who are trying to spawn art movements but they don’t really have the intention of making community and lifestyles more enriched. People are obsessed with lifestyle branding but they’re not committed to improving lifestyle and their community. That is the difference between a political and an apolitical movement that has substance. People recognize that substance very quickly.

And that’s why we have such an awesome base of supporters.

One of the event descriptions says Los Angeles is the “homeland for much of the political ideology that has inspired our radical minds.” Can you tell me more about these ideologies?

In college I took a class on Latina feminism, and I learned about the Chicano movement, Chicano nationalism, and learned how that was really powerful and really threatened white supremacy in a big and important way. Also in the name of maintaining some sort of unity against the white man, a lot of womens’ voices were silenced, so I just remember reading first hand accounts of these amazing Chicana feminist conferences. I read books like ‘This Bridge Called My Back’ and scholarship by women like Maria Cotera. Reading about the power of the Chicana archive and Chicana feminists who were based in the Southwest really shaped most of my feminist politics. I’m not well-versed in traditional feminism, well… I like bell hooks and Sylvia Federici but I think the Chicana feminists, like Maria Cotera and Gloria Anzaldúa are the ones that have influenced me the most. It’s nice being here and connecting with Chicana feminists because we come from a more Caribbean influence.

Do you have any landmarks you’re going to visit or a person you’re excited to see in L.A.?

We want to go visit The Berrics, a legendary skate park in downtown L.A. We’re trying to get there. Honestly, Guadalupe from Veteranas and Rucas is someone I’m mad excited to meet. I’m honored to be hanging out with them just because their archival project is so bomb. I’m geeked. I’m also really excited to see homies in Clairemont. President Punch is also one of my biggest mentors. He’s the president of Top Dawg entertainment. I think they’re the most important rap label in the United States. They’re based in LA and I used to work for them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have the confidence to come into myself and come up with this concept. I always go pay him respects because he influenced my thinking.

Follow @wearebrujas on Instagram and their website for event details.