It's a Wednesday night and Eastside Luv Wine Bar is starting to sizzle. Flamenco dancer La Tigresa, wearing jeans, climbs up on the wide wooden bar and stomps dramatically, then cracks a subversive smile. It's not your typical flamenco set. The rest of the bar ― part hip-hop scene, part cumbia club ― is dancing along as Tigresa pulls friends up next to her and everyone slides their big glasses of sangria out of the way.
Subsuelo is a monthly global bass party in Boyle Heights, the pet project of DJ Canyon Cody, a.k.a. El Canyonazo. The 28-year-old, who was born to Cuban immigrant parents and grew up in Ojai, calls it an attempt to throw a house party in a public venue. “The point is not to make it bigger and more popular and see if we can start charging money and maybe move to a bigger venue,” Cody insists. He just wants people to dance.
The party involves 10 resident artists, also including cumbia DJ Gozar, hip-hop DJ Ethos, rapper Gnotes, photographer Farah Sosa, a guitarist, two persussionists, Tigresa and a video DJ.
Over Chimays at Footsie's in Cypress Park, Cody talks about how he wanted to bring together the worlds of club music, hip-hop and flamenco — just to see what might happen. Originally a hip-hop DJ during his college years in Boston, Cody traveled to Spain as a Fullbright scholar to study the roots of flamenco music. By day he'd work on his research, and by night he'd spin house anthems at clubs in Granada.
But the house music started to feel soulless, he says, and he felt there was something missing from hip-hop, too. “It's a very aggressive scene, it's a very competitive scene, it's a very ― in a lot of ways ― materialistic scene and male-dominated scene,” he says.
After three years in Europe, Cody returned to southern California where he eventually met Tigresa, Ethos and Gozar, and they launched their monthly global bass collaboration, which will complete its first year next month.
Asked to define global bass, Cody gets lyrical. “It's a retro-futuristic mashup of electronic dance music and traditional analog rhythms, with a heavy emphasis on the low-end,” he says. “It's like a pre-Columbian rave, with subwoofers.”
And it combines the high energy of Europe's late night dance floors with the organic feel of the Cuban music Cody grew up with. But more than anything else, he says, it's about the energy.
“One of the things I got from flamenco and the best underground hip hop scenes is it's not performer-to-passive-crowd. There really is an interaction between the two, and the crowd is as much of the performance as anything.”
This month's Subsuelo happens Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. at Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso, 1835 E. 1st Street in Boyle Heights. The show will feature special guests Ritmo Machine, Sick Jacken and a super-special surprise. Free.