KOXY ends 2019 with performances by ¡Azúcar!, Chulita Vinyl Club and Maluca

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Azúcar performs at the KOXY event in front of Thorne Hall at Occidental College in LA. Nov. 15, 2019. Gwen Berghof/The Occidental

Occidental’s student-run radio station, KOXY, hosted its last event of 2019, Nov. 15 in front of Thorne Hall, featuring the school’s very own Latinx dance group, ¡Azúcar!, as the opener for performances by DJs from Chulita Vinyl Club and the headliner, New York City born-and-raised singer Maluca. The event was co-sponsored by the Latinx Student Union. The performance was filled with enchanting dance moves, punchy pop music and a passionate audience, all of which warmed up the cold night. According to KOXY co-station manager Grace Haggerty (senior), almost 100 students attended the event.

Chulita Vinyl Club (CVC) was founded in 2014 as a vinyl DJ group for gender non-conforming, non-binary, LGBTQIA+ self-identifying women of color. CVC has seven regional chapters across Texas and California, and four DJs from its LA chapter were invited to perform. Haggerty said KOXY has wanted to work with CVC for a while, so she is glad that they were finally booked for the show. Andrea Gutierrez, one of the DJs in the performance, said they each brought four to five vinyl records to Occidental.

The night’s main attraction was Maluca, a Bronx-born singer with Dominican roots who fuses diverse musical genres ranging from merengue and reggaeton to hip-hop and club music, according to Haggerty. More than mixing genres, Maluca also spreads female-empowering values through her Spanglish rapping and singing. Haggerty said the decision to invite Maluca came after Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) accepted KOXY’s capital improvement requests for a new set of speakers. The new speakers are louder and have a wider frequency range than the previous speakers did.

“Our last show was a little more mellow, so we were thinking, ‘What can we play that will sound awesome on these speakers and will get people dancing?'” Haggerty said. “We were thinking something more like reggaeton or cumbia. Each of our events, we want to have them be distinct genres.”

At around 9:30 p.m., ¡Azúcar! kicked things off with three dances that livened the atmosphere. Half of the dancers were wearing white and the other half red, setting off a vibrant contrast as they playfully cha-chaed in pairs, at times raising their partner high and even somersaulting. The captivating dance moves were accompanied by melodious yet punchy Spanish hip-hop tunes blasting from the new speakers, positioned right under the stage in front of Thorne Hall. Intrigued by the music, more people arrived to cheer the dance group on and hung around as the first Chulita Vinyl Club DJ arrived on stage with a big bag of vinyl records, ready to pump the crowd up with danceable beats.

The first few songs were slow-tempoed but catchy, which allowed the audience to chat in groups and move slowly to the beat. Later, when it seemed like people had warmed up their bodies for the cold night, more brisk and recognizable tunes like those from Cardi B played, making people dance at a visibly faster pace. The DJs had limited interaction with the audience. Instead, music was their language as they skillfully changed tracks from one vinyl to the next. Gutierrez said although it was cold, she was glad to see students dancing to the beat and enjoying the vinyls they had to offer.

Azúcar performs at the KOXY event in front of Thorne Hall at Occidental College in LA. Nov. 15, 2019. Gwen Berghof/The Occidental

About two hours into the show and two performances in, Maluca appeared onstage. As her black leather jacket and long, curly hair blended into the night, her enthusiasm was evident from her energetic movements on stage. She warmly greeted the audience members who filled up about half of the enclosed area and started to rap and sing in Spanglish.

The level of interaction and audience excitement reached new heights as Maluca jumped around the stage in her high-heeled boots, sat on the new speakers and sang along with the students. She frequently climbed over the fences that separate the stage and the audience to sing and mingle. As Haggerty had hoped, Maluca put the speakers to good use. People danced, twerked and got low to the ground when Maluca told them to, then jumped upwards as the beat dropped. Maluca also used the performance as an opportunity to encourage students to pursue their true interests.

“If you study architecture, and you want to be a designer, I better see you diggin’ in that closet. Because that’s what I did,” Maluca said.

Gillian Share-Raab (junior) said she enjoyed Maluca’s whole repertoire of musical talents.

“She was an amazing performer and an amazing dancer, super engaged with the music, and has sick beats,” Share-Raab said.