Latin alternative music fans were dealt a heavy blow days ago when club promoter Ricky Garay announced the end of his much-loved club night Mucho Wednesdays at La Cita. The weekly, bilingual dance party was the only place in town where people could dance to equal doses of Depeche Mode and Plastilina Mosh. This is the second party to announce it's departure from the downtown club in recent weeks. As Nightranger Lina Lecaro reported, Mustache Mondays just moved to The Belasco.
The news proved to be bittersweet as, days later, Garay announced Mucho's move to the Echoplex this
July June where he will host a monthly concert series featuring Latin alternative acts. “We have something extra special scheduled for July,” said Garay of his upcoming partnership with the Echoplex. “It's going to be a celebration of us doing Latin alternative events in Los Angeles as an independent group of people.”
Garay, a.k.a. Ricky Wednesdays, may be a new name to many ears but he is no stranger to the promotional circuit. He's promoted a variety of open-format parties for the past 15 years and worked with Sam Sparrow and Love Grenades before he launched Mucho Wednesdays in 2007. He pitched the idea to La Cita owner Carl Lofgren during a job interview for a bilingual bartender.
“Latin Alternative was something that we always loved,” he said, “but never realized the void that existed for the Latin alternative community. We started Mucho Wednesdays because we wanted a place to go and dance to Latin Pop. After a couple of months, I realized that this was something important, that this was something that needed a home. Once the perception about what we were doing shifted, I started thinking about longevity, success, how to make it work, how to promote it and I realized early on that I had a good weekly so I pushed it.”
“When we started here,” he continued, “we were twice a month. No one believed that it would work when I pushed for it to go weekly. No one believed that the audience would support it or that we could find the bands to fill in every week. I knew that if we wanted to create an established, consistent fan base that we'd have to be weekly.”
Mucho Wednesdays quickly earned a reputation as a hip party night where local and underground Latin alternative acts such as Very Be Careful, Love Grenades, La Santa Cecilia, Las Cafeteras and Piñata Protest, could share a stage with internationally renowned stars such as Ximena Sariñana, Gustavo Galindo, El Guincho, Pilar Diaz, Ceci Bastida and Anita Tijoux.
The night grew to the point where Garay found himself declining requests from artists because of the space and sound limitations at La Cita. Those artists, however, encountered another problem as they could never a find another venue to perform at. Again, Garay stepped in to fill the void.
“When we started Mucho Wednesdays,” explained Garay, “it's always been about the party that we wanted to go to. The move to the Echoplex is now the question of the concerts that we've always wanted to go to in reference to the quality of the stage and the space and the sound to the level of artist that we are going to be able to bring to our events. Unfortunately, in this city, there are not many venues that will lend their weekends to the Latin alternative community. It's important from a grassroots level to say that our artists deserve that same recognition and to share those stages.”
Garay hopes to expand the Mucho brand by using the Echoplex as an anchor point for a West Coast tour circuit. “We want to establish a world-class stage for the Latin alternative community,” he said, “and establish our own CBGB's, our own Fillmore, our own legendary venue where we can provide a platform and a safe space for all these artists on a weekend which, believe it or not, is missing. We need something like The Echoplex to be able to provide the exposure for these bands and, I believe, by being in a space like that, we'll be able to grow the fan base that already exists and pull in people that are in some of the other Latin scenes that are in L.A.”
That fan base shares Garay's eclectic love of music. It's the type of crowd that enjoys listening to Ice Cube and Metallica in the car but also sings along to Vicente Fernandez and Juan Gabriel at parties.
“Growing up, we had all these sounds,” he explained. “The first album I ever bought was a 45 of 'Conga' by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. The second album I bought was Salt N' Pepa's 'Push It' and the first cassette tape I ever bought was a copy of Iron Maiden's 'Live After Death.' That right there is the perfect cross-section to describe who we are and it's why it's so complicated for anyone to nail us down as an audience because everyone has a different version of what I just said.”
“We are a very weird crossbreed of all of these experiences. We are the children of all these mashed-up Pop cultures. That is something very unique, very special and it's something that we've totally cornered the market on and is a huge part of our success. We're blessed to be a part of it. It's contagious and we can't wait to share it with a larger audience.”
Mucho Wednesdays' final night at La Cita coincides with its annual Cinco de Mucho celebration. El Conjunto Nueva Ola is scheduled to perform at what Garay guarantees will be a wild night.