It’s impossible to overstate Selena’s impact, particularly on Latin communities. The artista del pueblo had stunning crossover appeal, a fact she proved in 1995 when "Dreaming of You" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200.
Selena already conquered the Latin charts and was prepared to do the same in mainstream music when a stalker killed her on March 31, 1995. But the mark she made on Tejano music and its subculture remains indelible. So every March, near the anniversary of her death, Dallas celebrates.
Rafael Tamayo is one of the organizers of #214Selena, the 4th annual celebration happening Saturday at Country Burger — which is a year-round Selena shrine. Per usual, the event will be hosted by Faded DeeJays and there will be a Selena lookalike contest in which contestants are also free to sing, dance or “do anything creative.” Tamayo played the kid version of Selena’s brother, A.B. Quintanilla, in the 1997 biopic film.
"Even now, 20 years later, after she’s gone and we don’t have any music from her, there’s still so much that she’s contributing to the landscape," Tamayo says. "There are new producers and new artists that are kind of reinventing the sound that she helped establish such a long time ago. It’s almost a whole reawakening of what she had started with her family."
But Tamayo says the biggest draw this year is the permanent mural Dallas graffiti artists Arturo DonJuan and Theo Ponchaveli created together. It’s going up on the outside wall of Country Burger, and it’s large. Tamayo originally suggested just building a large wall of panels, so the mural could be taken down and rebuilt elsewhere. But when he talked to the owner, he said, "'You know, you can just put it on the wall.' It’s one of those things where we never know unless we ask."
Four friends developed the idea four years ago during a casual chat among DonJuan (of the Dallas-based art collective Sour Grapes) and Trino Lopez of Faded DeeJays.
They knew they wanted to do something, but weren’t sure what. "We were talking about how much Dallas loves Selena, and we wanted to celebrate that," he says. They had different ideas of how to go about it, but eventually decided Country Burger made sense as a venue since it already celebrates Selena.
Frozen in 1997, the humbly-named Country Burger is wallpapered with Selena posters, artist renderings and —naturally — a magazine photo of the late singer in her casket. A trip to Country Burger comes with the added bonus of singing "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" internally for the next week.
And because nothing about Selena is small-scale, the party will stretch well into the evening after migrating over to Club Dada, where Faded DeeJays and DJ Noe G will take care of the hoards of Selena devotees. Its official name on promotional materials is simply "Selena After Party."
"It’s the anniversary of her death, but it’s not a sad thing. It’s a celebration," Tamayo says. "We just really look to honor the legacy."
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Selena Party, 3-7 p.m. Saturday, March 25, Country Burger, 401 S. Hampton Road, free, see Facebook. The party continues from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St., also free.