It’s safe to say that La Choloteca was the fastest growing party of 2017. The fun and festivity they are known for is the magical glue that draws a truly mixed crowd, packing out the house with an array of social circles from vastly different age, gender identity, orientation, race, backgrounds and interests. The magic is set to happen next on Sunday.
But La Choloteca’s residency at Star Bar in L5P was not expected to be as massive back at its start in September 2016. When attendance grew like wildfire, it was obvious the multiplying crowds would require a larger venue. Now it’s held every third Thursday at Ponce De Leon’s MJQ, and now at Sun In My Belly for New Year’s Eve.
La Choloteca began as a home get-together turned mini dance party. Followed by a tiny spark that a legit dance party could be born, Kenneth Figueroa (DJ Esme), a hair master at Melrose and McQueen, and his cousin Josephine Figueroa (DJ La Superior), who has worked with ATL Film Society, Feminist Healthcare Center and Somos Sur Art Collective, had brief booking help from Living Walls’ Monica Campana. Originally comprised of queer and/or female-identified Latinx individuals, La Choloteca is currently joined by organizer Luis Sandoval, Atlanta’s field marketing representative for PBR, and resident DJs Santiago Paramo, Juampasoul, Anonima, and Florista.
Providing a meeting ground for Latinx creatives, the founders intentionally created a space for their cultures and tastes. Spinning everything from cumbia, salsa, reggaeton and electro Spanish pop, the musical foundation alone stands out from any other party unit in the ATL perimeter, an aspect that is personally liberating for those involved.
“I was feeling like there was a lack of representation in music, especially within the queer community,” Kenneth Figueraoa explains. “I would find myself at different parties with the same music always playing. While I find value in that music, it can be pretty mind-numbing.
“Sometimes it would feel like a burden or even embarrassing to request the kind of music I wanted to hear,” he adds. “There’s a ton of modern electronic music coming from Central and South America that I feel needs an Atlanta audience. We are a diverse crowd which should definitely reflect in the music we hear in our sanctuaries.”
La Choloteca’s popularity is less an oddity and more proof of how people of color have remained leaders of underground nightlife. With a focus on decolonization, both in club culture and dialogue, Georgia has one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the country, yet representation and spaces have been tremendously lacking inside the city perimeter.
The crowd attending La Choloteca may be a coterie, but family first is the foundation of their magnetic fete.
Resident photographer Julian Camilo Del Toro recently participated in a Puerto Rico relief benefit at Argha Noah, and the group threw a party during Miami’s Art Basel at Las Rosas with local DJs Lokahontas and GoodGyalDani. Kenneth says they’re excited about expansion in 2018 going forward.
“We definitely want to have more influence in our community and the arts world,” he says. “I love having a traveling aspect to the party and hope to do more of that in the New Year. We're also in the works to create other spin-off evenings that would be more themed to specific genres that may not always find its way into a Cholo mix.
“For me personally, that is also creating more queer spaces.”
La Choloteca collaborates with Wussy Mag on New Year’s Eve with music provided by DJ Esme, La Superior and Deep South partner, Brian Rojas and special guest ATL/Baltimore DJ AASHA. Enjoy food provided by Buena Gente Cuban Bakery, Chicomecó ATL and Patrick Joseph Boston, as well as performances by LaRico and PhaeMonae.
Perreo Changa NYE: A Cholo-Wussy-Teca takes place December 31 at Sun In My Belly, 2161 College Avenue NE, 9 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Photo by Julian Camilo del Toro.
This article originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below: