ONE OF THE BEST-KEPT SECRETS of the Latino and Chicano communities in Los Angeles is the eclectic and thriving music scenes.
Noche Romántica — “romantic night” in English — has been an ongoing project from San Diego native Chicano DJ José Luis Arreguin — known more commonly as ChicanoPlayboy — along with co-founders José Trujillo, Joshua Lasso, and Rochelle Martin of Mapache Jewelry.
Arreguin and Trujillo first met through mutual friends while both were living in the Mission District of San Francisco in 2012, a neighborhood that was quickly falling prey to gentrification. The two bonded over similar tastes in music and cultural backgrounds and both agreed on the necessity of creating a space for their cultural representation, something they felt was lacking with the new cultural shift in their neighborhood. Thus, their Noche Romántica lovechild was born at Rock Bar in the Mission. “It was important for us to keep our music, our culture and our story alive in what was once a vibrant community,” Arreguin shares. As a direct victim of displacement linked to gentrification, Arreguin was pushed out of the very community he fought so hard to represent. With that, he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles, where he brought Noche Romántica along with him.
In 2014, Chinatown’s Melody Lounge became home to L.A.’s Noche Romantica. With a slow start, Arreguin’s night of romance began circulating and picking up loyal fans, like Joshua Lasso and Rochelle Martin, who have since helped bring L.A’s own NR to fruition. The three have worked diligently to create a lively night full of talented young DJs spinning classic cumbia (dance-infused music heavy on percussion and the accordion), boleros (Latin love ballads), and ’50s/’60s Spanish rock ‘n’ roll.
Noche Romántica is a night to dance and gyrate, a night dedicated to love and unity — a moment in this bustling city to enjoy the music of our childhood and parents’ youth outside of our own homes, or, if you’re not of Latino descent, the music of a culture that makes up the very fabric of this city and state. Melody Lounge has been home to Noche Romántica for the past two years, and the beautiful minds behind Noche Romántica have created a unifying night of dance, love, and cultura for us Angelenos, and we are very thankful!
Over the weekend, Arreguin, newly-appointed resident DJ Dave Salvage, and fascinating guest DJ BlackLotusRosie brought Noche Romántica En Vivo (Live) to First Street Pool and Billiard in Boyle Heights. Joining them was L.A.’s very own San Cha y Las Sirenas, an electronic, erotic ensemble whose lead singer San Cha‘s ethereal and visceral voice will either lead you to fall in love with her or make you believe she’ll stab you in your sleep. Either way, those are odds we’re willing to gamble on! The Tijuana-based cumbia rockeros La Diabla closed the night with a sweat-infused dance party, aided by special guest appearances from East L.A.’s very own psychedelic cumbia kings Thee Commons.
Noche Romántica is exactly what its name entails — a night of romance, a night to let inhibitions go, and enjoy the moment of now. If you happen to be in L.A. when the next Noche Romántica occurs, make sure you pop in for a night filled with dance and romance. Follow these movers and shakers in the Latino music scene to find out.