There is some magic to the heat of August in Texas. It's sticky and unrelenting, and in the right moment, it's sexy. It unites us, even if only in complaint.
So when an invitation to an anniversary party in the back lot of Studio 410 made the rounds, there was no question about whether or not to stand in the heat of an Oak Cliff night. We all knew it would be made hotter by the crowd and hotter still by the dancing.
There would be cold drinks, there would be no breeze, but a good Cumbia partner can put a little wind in your hair and we can't stay locked up in our AC temples forever. Miriam Ortega, featured recently in the Dallas Observer People's issue, and her gang of Lady Misfits were celebrating a lucky seventh anniversary. It was at a Cinco de Mayo party where I was first seduced by the Misfit flavor of festivity; where a parking lot merely needs a gate and a DJ to become Dallas' most interesting, if infrequent, dance floor. To mark the special occasion, the Lady Misfits hosted the DJ collective from Houston's Bombón, made up of Gracie Chavez, Navó, OG Bobby Trill and Panchitron. Houston's well-known insularity in their music scene means there are some well-kept secrets, and Bombón is one exciting skeleton. It's a shame that it's taken this long for them to be properly presented to Dallas.
As I rounded the corner walking into the Studio 410 salon space, I could see through the window a curling iron twirling the hair of gorgeous brunette in the chair. I was immediately greeted with cheek kisses from Misfit Jake, and I excitedly asked if they were freshening up 'dos for the evening. Oh. Those are the DJs.
Sitting there watching the Misfits orbit around Bombón and friends of Bombón, hair twirling and teasing, ladies primping in the mirror on one side, fellows relaxed in the chairs across the entry way -- it all looked like the scene of the Quinceañera we'd really dreamed of or the school dance of our lives. Gracie Chavez was already on the decks outside, I could hear the music pouring in from the exterior and the sense that it was a good night to be in Dallas was palpable. The sense was that you should find yourself at 410 celebrating, that you should do your hair and that you should dress up even if the heat would punish that beehive or melt your cat-eye a little. Mel Boogs was in the shop when I walked in, striking and bubbly as the group petted each other in the mirror. She took a hip sway and a supermodel stomp to get to the DJ booth. She picked up the mic. She got the party started.
The evening's host and Dallas producer Picnictyme brought his signature charm to the mic, and he brought some new music from his Booty Fade project for the speakers. There are few words I loathe more than the word "scene" but a definite scene was growing and the intersection of the crowd only got more and more interesting as the night wore on.
The furthest part of the gated lot was a glowing garden of blinking and shaking low-rider trucks and cars. Some painted with beautiful ladies, so curvy they looked like they were swimming. Others clearly customized by the most creative of Cowboy's fans, special attention must be paid to the Tom Landry hood portrait. God saint his soul, may he rest in peace.
There was only once place in Dallas that a Sour Grape could meet a Goss Michael curator, where a Dallas news writer could meet a celebrated hair artist, where the muses mixed with the creators and all were there to see and hear what Houston had kept for themselves for so long. And their kids were there, running and hiding through the dancing couples, which is a detail sometimes missing from these Overserved adventures.
It may have been the enchantment of a sticky night in August. It may have been the beautiful crowd, the beehives and the summer waves were holding their own in the heat. Oh, it may have been the alcohol. But to say that Bombón satisfied on every level still seems like somewhat of an understatement.
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There isn't another night like the one Bombón provided in Dallas; there probably isn't another night like it in Houston, which is why their popularity south of us makes so much sense. As I watched even the shyest dancer shake to the floor and some very familiar Dallas hip-hop artists move their hips in previously unknown ways, it was impossible not to smile. Gracie Chavez and her crew have created a singular expression and mix moombahton, tropical bass, baile funk and mambo and toss in just enough Beyoncé for even the shyest girls to bloom away from the wall.
I started to fantasize about what club they should become a fixture at. Their link to DJ Sober via Houston's Boondocks venue makes The Travis Basement an obvious thought, but they'd sound amazing in the proper upstairs room. It'll Do has the perfect floor for some varsity Salsa dancing, which pays homage to the clubs East Dallas roots. Before the night was over, I was already planning how to experience it all again. A trip to Houston is always an option.
Looking around at the crowd, I was posted up on a car when I started to feel it shake. The sweat dripped down my brow. I didn't even wipe it off. For the sake of anyone with a swivel in their hips, Bombón should come back. And soon. And maybe fuck the club; it should be just like this.