Cultura Dura is a Remezcla and Mike’s HARDER content and event series highlighting emerging Latin urban culture. We’ll be exploring scenes that haven’t really gotten any coverage anywhere else – from block parties and street art to underground sports and raw, young artists making movements pa’ la calle.
Dallas is a weird place — not deliberately weird, like Austin, but rather a constant paradox. A city whose population is roughly 40% Latino, it has historically been scarce on the “Latino” scenes and music you find in other cities’ (Peligrosa, Que Bajo?!, Subsuelo).
But in recent years things have begun to shift; musical dichotomies are melting away, and DJs are become more aware of the underrepresented Latino audience. Cumbia and Nu-tropical sounds are shifting the dance-floor narrative, and on any given night the likes of Austin Shooknite, Erick Jaimez and Ghetto Gardens are blasting their takes on tropical music both in DIY venues and posh uptown clubs.
At the forefront of this curve is DJ Sober. If Dallas had an official DJ, he would be it – from playing Dallas Mavs games to creating one of the best weeklies in Dallas nightlife to his role as one half of Booty Fade – he has left an indelible mark on the city’s music scene. His weekly party Big Bang Thursday, hosted along with Picnictyme, is an open musical and cultural exchange. The odd-but-fun, sweat-laden night is where you’ll find local rappers, post-cholos and cowboys boots mingling on the dance floor, as Sober effortlessly blends a heavy dose of hip-hop, bounce and cumbia. It can only be described as a musical plurality without the pretentiousness. Or as a partygoer was overheard saying last year: “Are they fucking fading salsa straight into Trinidad James?!?!”
I caught up with DJ Sober to discuss this burgeoning scene, what’s it’s like to mix cumbia with poshy white people in the club, and of course best BBQ in town.
How long have you been fully DJing and what got you into it?
I’ve been Djing since the 90s and DJing for a living since 2006. I have always loved music. The first time I saw a DJ spinning live in person, I was 16 at a house party. I literally just stood and watched the DJ all night, glued to what he was doing. I knew I had to get turntables.
When I saw you DJ at The Basement, I heard a heavy mix of Latin music. Who or what exposed you to that music?
Being not only a DJ but also a fan of multiple genres of music, I like to search for all types of tunes. Other DJs and friends have exposed me to new music for sure. Also, I have a huge Latin crowd at my parties.
Since Dallas isn’t continually exposed to Latin Bass or Cumbia music, what is the usual reception you get when you mix that into your repertoire?
I think it is in certain circles. I try to incorporate those elements into my weekly and monthly parties by mixing it up. The reception has always been good. A lot of my crowd know the tunes word for word.
Have you worked with any local Latino artists or is there anyone you would like to work with?
PICNICTYME, my partner in “Booty Fade” is Latino. I’ve def. worked with a lot of local Latin DJs. Picnic and I are planning on sending some tracks in Nina Sky’s direction.
How do you sustain creating parties and events when you’re an independent DJ?
I enjoy that aspect of the DJ role as much as DJing itself. I love making the flyers, art directing flyers, planning, conceptualizing and executing parties and events. It’s part of what motivates me and keeps me going. I also have an amazing manager that is equally good at all of those things. That helps.
Why do you think your Big Bang Thursday party has had continued success?
I don’t think there are many other nights in Dallas like my weekly. Big Bang is heavy on hip hop, but like you witnessed, I dive in to Latin, Reggae, Bass, B-more, Dance etc. I think people like the variety of music and the diversity of the crowd. Keeps ’em coming back and spreading the word to others.
Much of your promo material and art-work has a very vibrant design and urban aesthetic. Where does that come from and how does it reflect your identity as a DJ and Artist?
Well, I am a visual artist first and foremost. I’ve drawn and designed things all my life. I have a graffiti and illustration background so that reflects my aesthetic. I am also involved in multiple art projects. It helps balance me out. Plus, music and visual art go hand in hand.
New Orleans has Bounce, Baltimore has Club, do you think Dallas has a sound that defines it in the DJ movements?
Dallas has the D-town boogie movement. Hip Hop club anthems with dances very specific to Dallas. I know a lot of these tunes have reached the world. Am I going to have to teach y’all how to Dougie?! “I’m not from Dallas but I D-town boogie.”
Have you seen growth in the DJ scene in DFW since you started?
For sure. There are a lot of new names and faces within the scene. I think that’s a good thing. It’s healthy to have new blood and a scene that expands. Also, with the rise of EDM etc. a lot of younger kids are getting more interested in DJing/ production.
Do you have any updates on your other project Booty Fade?
We just dropped a new track a few weeks ago, remix of Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down.” We are currently working on our second EP of R&B remixes. Keep your ears and eyes peeled!
Best BBQ in Texas?
I’m partial to Lockhart right here in good ol’ Oak Cliff.