While Trump and conservative groups in Mexico want to build literal and metaphorical walls to further divide us as a society, NAAFI is bypassing borders with the one thing that needs no visa or citizenship to cross over: music. The Mexican collective – whose core members include Tomás Davó, Paul Marmota, Lauro Robles, and Alberto Bustamante – doesn’t just release party soundtracks, they’re creating a diverse and inclusive safe space for people of all walks of life through their shows and collaborations with like-minded Latin American artists. Teaming up with Smirnoff Sound Collective, this message is epitomized in their newly released 8-minute mini documentary Tribes: NAAFI, which follows the co-founders through their creative process and their ongoing journey to redefine perceived Latin American identity both domestically and abroad through their music.
In the documentary, the artists and the members of peer groups like Uruguay’s Salviatek collective, Texas’ Svntv Mverte, and Buenos Aires’ HiedraH party series discuss embracing typically spurned genres like reggaeton, dembow, and bachata, among others. They narrate their mission to challenge colonial thinking that tells us Latinidad is inferior to Anglo culture. NAAFI also talk about their desire to create an all-inclusive club community that focuses not only on how the music feels but what it represents.
While the larger, official picture involves the romanticized idea of geographical borders being imaginary when it comes to music, NAAFI is taking us on a genre-diverse sonic adventure where “nobody bothers or judges you” and is “buena onda,” as Davó (aka Fausto Bahia) puts it. “We’re trying to make everyone feel accepted in our shows and [make sure] that no one is excluded,” he explains.
However, borders, while bullshit, are very real (and do involve walls and fences and night vision cameras – FYI gringos). So in a symbolic act, NAAFI left their party in Bonita, CA last Friday to cross the border into Tijuana for a real party on Mexico’s Independence Day. The crossing was envisioned as a big, allegorical fuck-you to the concept of borders and the stereotypes that plague the idea of Latin American identity inside and outside the region.
When September 16 rolls around every year, disgruntled users flood social media, claiming Mexico has little to celebrate. We’re still missing 43, the femicide in Juárez prevails, and a large portion of the population wants President Peña Nieto to resign. However, the country’s shitty politics don’t define nor reflect the people as a whole. Yes, there is indeed something to celebrate, and at the Tribes: NAAFI party, we celebrated a culture and values that the movement is reclaiming. Because just as Marmota states at the end of the documentary, “There is no reason not to feel proud about where you come from. On the contrary, take advantage of where you came from and take it further.”