La Choloteca is not just any dance party. What began as a simple idea between friends in late 2016 has grown into a monthly gathering spot for Georgia's Latinx community.
The "party with a mission" aims to create a safe and inclusive space for all identities who want to jam out to Latin tracks. It takes place monthly.
“We grew up partying and dancing,” said Josephine Figueroa, one of the founders and main DJs of La Choloteca. “For us, that is what family meant, and those were some of the first experiences of joy and connectedness that we had with our culture.”
She and her cousin Kenneth Figueroa, along with their friend Monica Campana, decided to build on that cultural touchpoint and create a space where they could meet other Latinx people from the area. In developing the concept for La Choloteca, they made a point of emphasizing inclusivity to combat some of the challenges that can plague nightlife culture. There’s a list of rules behind the stage, which include things like “no groping” and “no racism.” At most events, they also bring in a community parnter to engage with visitors on topics like voter registration and HIV prevention.
"I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Latinx community transform because of 'La Choloteca,'" she shared. "It’s something I never thought I would see in my lifetime."
The name for the event came from an effort to reclaim a slur often used against people of indigenous origin, and the sounds brought to the dance floor at La Choloteca range from Top 40 Latin hits to underground tracks that have roots in Central and South American beats. For Wendy Noreña, one of La Choloteca’s newer DJs, building community through soundscapes has personal meaning.
As a college student at Pomona College, Noreña says she felt isolated on a campus far from home in a community that didn’t always reflect her identity. To feel less homesick, she would listen to music that reminded her of growing up in an immigrant community in Norcross, Georgia.
“There are a lot of people who hide in the shadows with that loneliness,” she explained. “If there’s a space where they [can] rejoice in those sounds that feel familiar, that feel like home, they’ll feel that empowerment to come out of the shadows and be together in community, and in sound.”
Campana, who later co-founded Living Walls Atlanta, believes that “Choloteca is creating a space for a young generation to be able to feel safe expressing themselves.” She notes that the Latinx community in Atlanta differs from some of the larger, more prominent communities in New York or California.
“The South['s Latinx community] is very weird, and fits no box,” she explained. “It’s extremely diverse… and Choloteca’s here pushing music that’s chicha, or cumbia.”
Campana says that the South's Latinx community "fits no box." La Choloteca showcases the diversity of sound and culture here by playing music that's chicha, cumbia, or draws on Mexican, Brazilian, and Chilean influences.
“It’s really special, and it’s really weird,” Campana reflected. “Nothing is like Choloteca.”
Correction: on Feb. 1, La Choloteca will take place at Boggs Social and Supply instead of at Star Bar. This post has been edited for content.
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