Amelia Rami is the 23-year-old founder and co-host of a twice-weekly Zoom party, Perreo Cibelnetico. Tonight’s event will mark the 10th time Latinx and Spanish-speaking folks from all over — Spain, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Chile, NYC — will connect from 8 p.m. EST until, as it sometimes happens, much later than an IRL party in the U.S. legally could.
Rami, who lives in Ridgewood, New York, started the party in late March because, like many nightlife lovers, she missed going out to dance with friends. Her regular spots, like Lot 45, Toñita’s (Caribbean Social Club) and Kinfolk are shuttered until further notice—and so getting together via Zoom, a friend suggested, is the best possible option for filling, or at least patching temporarily, a void that’s as much emotional as it is physical.
“I did a soundcheck with my friends, and I was like, let’s just see if it works—and we spent five hours dancing after that,” Rami laughs. “So we were like, OK, this can work.”
There’s many a virtual club party to choose from on any given night right now, and Perreo Ciblenetico isn’t the biggest among them (yet). But the party is noteworthy for a couple reasons, one of them being that its crowd is especially, very enthusiastically engaged, and extraordinarily respectful of each other. The corresponding party chat is a constant feed of encouragement, echoing the audible praise of Rami and co-host La Bellacona. Regulars dance until they’re slick with sweat, vibrating nalgas are on full display, and some folks even shed clothing as the night goes on.
Rami believes it’s the party’s steadfast rule that’s responsible for upping the engagement: Everyone that enters the party must have their camera on.
If someone’s camera is off, she says, “You don’t know what they’re doing, and you don’t know who they are, either. You’re not going to want to actually go off and dance as much because you don’t know who’s watching you.”
Basically, the rule eliminates potential creepers. Camera off? You’re out. Rami does give users a couple chances in the span of a few minutes to turn their camera on, but if they don’t abide, she boots them. They can’t return on the same device, she says, and if they switch to another, she’ll boot them again. That goes for anyone making body-shaming or misogynist comments, too—although Rami has not yet encountered that problem.
This camera-on rule does not mean that you’ve gotta fully get down to be present at the perreo, though. But regardless of what you’re doing, you will inevitably be spotlighted on the main screen. (I can attest, as an introverted person who isn’t a very good dancer, that I warmed up to this quickly. I freaked out a little the first time, but eventually I got into it, and not long after I was leaning over my work desk to get the best cul*-camera-facing angle possible.)
“We don’t necessarily need people dancing all night,” Rami assures. “If you’re an introverted person and you don’t necessarily wanna be shaking your ass on camera. You [can just] enjoy the music. The point is that everyone participates in the capacity they can.”
Rami isn’t alone in making Perreo Cibelnetico happen. Her creative crew consists Amelia Holguín aka “La Bellacona,” Camilo Flores, Hillary Vicente, Laura Paulino, and Marianne Garces. Plus, since moving to New York from the Dominican Republic five years back, she’s met a lot of DJs and music industry folks: some have already joined in parties, others are slated to make their debuts soon.
Eventually, once the party goes wide and she feels the party is sturdy both in attendance and structure, she wants to extend collabs outside her network.
“The beautiful and weird thing about this thing is that 2020 for me was the year where I was going to start making events in DR,” Rami says, noting that DJ Foreigner, Philip Romero, and the Perreo Cibelnetico organizers were part of those plans.
Rather than postpone altogether, Rami and company are using Perreo Cibelnetico as a segue, a means of growing a community in advance of IRL events.
The virtual parties have afforded Rami time to learn: As a full-time model who’d hosted in person only once before, she’s honing her party-hyping skills (she’s good, trust). She’s also perfecting the presentation of the party, too.
And she’s making observations that will prove valuable—and will continue to set her parties apart—in the future.
“People have been texting me after parties like, ‘I felt so safe, I felt like I could do anything I wanted to,’” she says. “Like, yes, you were at home—you are in a safe space. [It’s something to consider when we go out again,] like, okay, we feel comfortable because we’re in these environments because we had more control. What can we do to create these spaces in person?”
Rami, who identifies as bisexual, notes that LGBTQIA+ folks are already part of the Perreo Cibelnetico crowd, and she hopes more will join.
“The same rules that we were applying on the internet, that worked for every one of us, how can we translate that in person?” she asks. “I think that’s the main goal right now: Learning things that are working for us in these times, and seeing how we can translate them into daily life.”
Check out Perreo Cibelnetico on Instagam for details on Thursday’s party.