A is for Azonto, B is for Booty… K is for K-Pop

My sweet Pelanga brothers have encouraged me to post again, after a long hiatus. Today I’m going to drop you two tracks that I have sworn to mix together, and one day hope to gift you in a sweet mixtape.

Part 1: Lapaz Toyota – Guru (Ghana)

What do you expect to see when you hear “Lapaz Toyota”? Tunda said it makes him think of a Bolivian mototaxi dealership. It turns out Lapaz is an area of Accra, Ghana – working class. It’s not every day a music video shows women swooning or dancing on top of crappy cars. I did a bit of looking around and apparently the song is about being happy with what you have – it deliberately counters imagery that implies fancy cars and happiness are connected. Watch the moves, they come in around 1:30.

Then there’s a tonne of random videos showing other people dancing Azonto to the Lapaz Toyota track, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvpvCaxUnHo


Part 2: Gangnam Style – PSY (Korea)

This video has been making rounds like wildfire on the interwebs, and my friend sent it to me a day after I came across Lapaz Toyota. Gangnam is also a neighbourhood – but in contrast with Lapaz, it’s one of the shwankiest districts of Seoul, South Korea. Now, if you look closely at a few of the moves, you _will_ see some similarity to the Azonto, I swear. And that’s not the only similarity you’ll spot: watch for similar shots, little kids breaking out some sick moves, and comment on anything else you spy!


Conclusion? Booty. Get yours moving.

Next Pelanga is August 25th.


Yours in full blown dance nerdery,

DJ China Tu Madre

… y Mas Taller Pelanga

While we’re on the topic… here is over 12 minutes of bootymoving for your enjoyment. It goes to double time after 10 minutes, so don’t be fooled by any repetition. It keeps changing as it moves along. Watch, try, repeat. Then come to our the Pelanga en La Peña Tonight! Saturday, May 7th



Improving the world by moving more booties at a time,
– chinatumadre

El Cieguito De Nagua | La Bailadora


I adore this track. It hails from the Dominican Republic – shout outs to Pozole, for the handsome collection of music he’s posted from there already… and to William, who might actually be able to answer my little puzzle question below.

La Bailadora by El Ciegito De Nagua

Fun puzzle question:
There are two hidden references made to birds through this song; neither of them are directly sung.


(Need a hint? one would be in the little song reference in the middle of the track, the other is in the genre name)

– chinatumadre

Timbiquí, Pacífico

Last week, Caracol Radio reported that FARC guerrillas opened fire in the middle of Timbiquí and left explosive devices around the town on their way out, forcing more than 150 families to evacuate. We join the community of Timbiquí in rejecting this, the latest in a series of violent episodes in a conflict that the Timbiquireños have no interest in being a part of.

This post is our humble tribute to a region of proud, strong, peaceful people that has a very special place in our hearts.

Ethnomusicologist David Lewiston went to the town of Guapi in 1968:


“The heavy rain in the region forms myriad rivers, which flow down to the Pacific […] there were so many rivers that there were few bridges or roads between coastal communities. The only forms of transport were boat and light plane. […] This community of a few thousand people was entirely black except for three mestizos – two of the doctors […] and the priest.


Because of the town’s isolation, its music had been conserved with remarkable purity.”


Lewiston did some of the earliest recordings of currulao. He didn’t keep track of who the musicians were in each song, but attributes this one to “the Torres family”. We think it might be the family of Gualajo, an influential fourth-generation musician who claims that when he was born, his umbilical chord was cut on top of a marimba.


Currulao Cantado by Familia Torres

Currulao Cantado

This tradition is alive and well. Two years ago, Tunda and we had the sweet joy of attending the Festival Petronio Alvarez, the annual gathering for musicians and friends from the towns up and down the Colombian Afro-Pacifico. Thousands of people make the journey by whatever means necessary, even if it involves hauling drums and marimbas on a canoe. We’ve never seen a crowd that is that lively, and yet is so positive and peaceful. It was among these throngs that we decided to start La Pelanga.

The last night of the festival, we got stuck way in the back, but were thrilled to find ourselves smack in the middle of what seemed like the whole town of Timbiquí – jam-packed in, two people per seat, gas canisters of home-brewed viche and arrechón being generously passed around.

Nidia Góngora and the Grupo Canalón from Timbiquí won the prize for Best New Marimba Song with Una Sola Raza:

Una Sola Raza by Grupo Canalon

Una Sola Raza

We haven’t told too many people about the Petronio, because it felt like a huge family reunion that one feels honoured and blessed to be a guest of. For better or for worse, the word is getting out. We are very happy to see this incredible music slowly get the recognition it deserves – we just hope that as the festival’s popularity increases, its role as a community event stays strong.

Naturally, the region is no longer as remote as it used to be. While the Colombian government continues to show little interest in it, the public is starting to discover the region’s immense cultural treasures. Some great new music is coming out of the Pacífico and receiving acclaim – from the work of Grupo Bahía Trio, to ChocQuibTown‘s “hip hop that smiles”, to Quantic’s collaboration with Nidia Góngora. No doubt, this is just the beginning…

With all our respect and solidarity with Timbiquí and the Colombian Pacífic Coast,

DJ China Tu Madre and Papicultor

PS – Shoutouts to Luis and Ale of Lulacruza (you can support their latest project here), a Franz Tunda, Dimamusa, Pablo, and Meche – let’s do it again! Also to Mariacecita, who loves and shares la música del pacífico, and to our friend Karent, puro talento timbiquireño; if you haven’t watched her movie, El Vuelco del Cangrejo, you’re in for a treat!


Perhaps the most ridiculous music video I’ve ever seen…

The other night, this had us laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. I thought we should share it with those who have not yet been exposed to the phenomenon of Rafaella Carrà. The choreography is… well, watch it for yourself and see.

Happy Friday!

p.s. long before Madonna and Michael Jackson’s music videos, she was churning this stuff out. Perhaps some of you have more information to share on the influence of her video style in the 70s on those that followed:

6 8 time, con ganas

Sometimes I like to kick start my mornings with a nice strong 6 8 rhythm. My theory is that it’s good for circulation, since I can feel my blood accelerate while I listen. Son Jarocho and Joropo are my two favourite cousins of 6 8 time: Son Jarocho from Veracruz, Mexico, and Joropo from the plains of Colombia and Venezuela.

Son Jarocho

Over Memorial Day weekend we were incredibly blessed with a visit and spontaneous performance by L@s Cafeter@s from Los Angeles, who came to visit us from LA and play some fútbol. Juancho posted a live recording of their show that night, and I’d like to share another, from their live CD. Definitely keep your ears open to the footwork (zapateo) in the recording, because more fancy footwork awaits you in the Joropo post below. The music also features  a marimbol – bass and mbira in one instrument! I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those…

El Cascabel by Las Cafeteras

El Cascabel

Look for L@s Cafeter@s at the Eastside Café in El Sereno, Los Angeles, contact them for classes on how to play, or find more info here

(Note: a very different version of this same song was posted by Juancho here)


They say you haven’t truly heard maracas (called capachos in los llanos de Venezuela and Colombia) until you hear Joropo. And perhaps you haven’t really seen a harp being played until you see one of these rockstars pulling their crazy harp antics –playing above their head and even behind their back. Here’s a little treat we picked up in Colombia for you:

Llanero De Condicion by Rene Devia

Llanero De Condicion

The Colombian Grupo Cimarron is also continuing to evolve this form. There’s a treat for you at the end of the clip: some dance footwork that’s so fast, it’s a blur:

(Apparently it helps to start learning young!)

Hope this helps get you going this Monday morning!

China Tu Madre