Regina Bugarin has become something of a household name in Denton's music scene. At just 24, she is one of the most celebrated and active bookers in town, and there’s a reason people have lauded her work and practices.
Bugarin has been booking shows in the college town since 2017, but she has been a part of the local DIY scene since she was in high school. In 2016, she began booking shows at the now fallen 1919 Hemphill. After the venue's demise, she transferred a lot of her resources into Denton’s DIY scene, where her career progressed rapidly.
“It’s been two years and so much has happened,” Bugarin says. “I feel like it’s only possible to do that in Denton because of the community we have and the resources that I’ve been given.”
As a queer woman of color in a notoriously non-diverse punk scene, Bugarin says she got a lot of pushback in her younger years.
“I feel like I was silenced a lot when I was in high school,” she says. “I feel like all that pent-up anger after being silenced for so long, I [now] feel heard and seen and it feels really good to have a voice.”
Indeed, the music community in North Texas adores Bugarin. Whether it’s her star quality of being easy to work with or her no-bullshit, safe and diverse shows, her stamp is becoming notable.
“I’ve never heard anyone who has worked with her have anything negative to say about her,” says Savannah Sherer, booking assistant at Margin Walker Presents. “She always is great about making a good impression on people and helping out, even when she should say no for her own personal reasons.”
Bugarin herself knows maybe she should be saying "no" more often, considering she always has a full plate. She works four jobs: one at Jupiter House coffee shop to pay the bills, with her own independent booking agency in town, her internship at Margin Walker Presents and her new gig as an agent at a startup booking agency headquartered in Philadelphia called Lost and Found.
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Working side-by-side with Bugarin, Sherer says the booking agent always makes friends and is helpful with the bands and people she’s doing work for.
“There’s always dudes in the industry who tell me ‘Being nice and being fair get you nowhere,’" Bugarin says. "I literally heard that the other day from this dude, and I was just like, fuck off, being nice will get you everywhere."
The Regina Bugarin Booking mission is all about creating shows where marginalized groups are prioritized in the booking and in the audience. Doing things like working with nonprofits and advocacy groups that work to create a more inclusive and accessible space in the music scene is just one of the ways Bugarin hopes to continue that legacy of being a voice for those most marginalized.
“There’s no such thing as being above keeping other people safe,” she says. “That’s the biggest end goal is to create a space for marginalized people, publicly.”
Great, safe music spaces can be created in the privacy of people’s homes, but Bugarin strives for the usage of public spaces not traditionally taken up by marginalized groups, like popular commercial venues.
“The Mal Blum show I booked like a month ago ... the audience was the most beautiful queer audience I’ve ever seen,” Bugarin says. “That’s the kind of audience I want to support. I want to be able to give them a show they feel comfortable at.”
Now that she’s cozy in Denton’s DIY scene, Bugarin’s ready to move into bigger things: She wants to take her career beyond local talent buying and become an agent with an impact on the music industry at large.
But one of the biggest struggles Bugarin anticipates is having to deal with bureaucracy. Even now as she books bigger shows, she says she's already gotten a taste of it.
“The more I get into the music industry, I’m like ‘Oh, here’s the misogyny,’” Bugarin says.
Sherer says that the diversity, perspective and ethics that Bugarin brings to the table always show, starting with her suggestions when booking shows.
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“I know she’s always going to make a conscious effort to work with artists who are people of color, gender nonconforming, just people who aren’t represented in the main agencies in the booking world,” Sherer says of Bugarin. “She’s always going to have a really clean roster of people who deserve to have representation.”
Bugarin has put in a lot of hours for local music, booking tours for Denton’s popular bands like Sad Cops and Hey, Cowboy! She's also booked a Texas tour for Pool Kids, who hail from Florida. And of course, many bands owe Bugarin for their first gigs at one-off shows.
Bugarin says she gets overwhelmed at the thought that she's an important figure to people in the independent music scene, but says it's always cool to hear other women tell her that she has inspired them, especially as she embarks on her career.
“I feel like there’s only a certain amount of impact I can make as a talent buyer,” Bugarin says. “I never feel complete, and there’s always work to do and why not I be the one doing the work?”