Arts Desk

Pan-Latin to the Future: A Chat With D.C.’s Maracuyeah DJs

The D.C. area has plenty of club DJs spinning popular Latin dance music, and various promoters and clubs bringing in big-name reggaeton, bachata, salsa, and rock en español acts, but Maracuyeah is carving a unique niche. Since March, the D.C. DJ duo has been assembling evenings that feature an eclectic mix of cutting-edge tropical dance music as well as more classic sounds, often coupled with live performances. Earlier this year, they featured Argentine DJ Chancha via Circuito and Brooklyn-based Brazilian baile funkster Zuzuka Poderosa.

Tonight, Maracuyeah is holding court at Napoleon Bistro & Lounge in Adams Morgan, where Colombian cumbia/folktronica DJ and vocalist Pernett will perform along with D.C. singer and hornplayer Trumpetgirl. They'll be joined by six D.C.-based DJs spread out on the establishment's two floors. Here's how the very enthusiastic Maracuyeah DJs are hyping the evening's offerings:

First Floor: Pan-Latin To the Future & Into Outer Space–> Cumbia Intergalactica, Salsa Psychodelica, ElectroChampeta, Merengue Marciano, Rock de otra Dimension, y Remezclas Forever, including your favorite 80s synth projections to the future, like Technocumbia, Latin House + Reggaeton Pre y Post Moderno

Second Floor: Pollada/Parranda de Casa (Second floor)- Latin Patio Intergenerational Fiesta Jam- Enjoy the songs you danced with your grandma- Vallenatos Deliciosos, Cumbias Caribenas, Exitos Andinos, Las Chicas del Can, Salsa Picantes, Tamoboras para Reventar, Joyas de Dancehall.

In an email interview, the ladies behind Maracuyeah, DJ Rat and DJ Mafe, discussed their dance nights, their influences, and their favorite tropical fruit.

Washington City Paper: When did the first Maracuyeah event happen in D.C. and who was featured ?

DJ  Rat: The first official Maracuyeah DJ night happened in March of 2011 and featured DJs Mafe, Rat, Bent, and Wanako. We do a lot of free dance nights to build community, start conversations around new tropical musics, and introduce crowds to the music of artists we hope to later showcase live in D.C.

Arts Desk: What does Maracuyeah mean?

DJ Mafe: Maracuya, or passion fruit, is one of our favorite tropical fruits from Colombia and Peru! We threw "YEAH" on the end because that's part of our attitude, and partly in ode to the Colombian affirmation, “Yeah Maracuya,” YEAH tu sabes.

DJ Rat: In Peru, one of my favorite treats is drinking Maracuya juice at the mercado or at breakfast. You throw the whole fruit in the blender, so its shiny black seeds  get mixed in with the rest of the juice. It comes out a combination of light sunny tartness, and gritty texture at the end of the glass, kinda like the delicious cup we are trying to mix, creating a conversation of the badass glowing tradtitional sounds and culture we love, with the new edgy and experimental music it influences. Yum.

Arts Desk: Rat, tell me about the tapes of songs and stories you have sent back and forth to family in Peru and how that influenced you?

DJ Rat: The tapes were awesome because there was so much wonder and lived experience crammed into this one plastic cassette, and I think the desire to do that has stuck with me in organizing parties within an amazing community of likeminded DJs in D.C. and Lima, Peru. We see a party or event as an opportunity to pull very different elements and experiences together, draw associations, spark unlikely conversations and interactions, tell our stories, express and create at the same time, and most importantly build community together—all packed into this one unit.

Also I think it was then that as a toddler I fell in love with the lo-fi format, which I think  is also influential in the style of how we do things at Maracuyeah—lo-fi, hi-love, and hi-impact too, we hope!

Arts Desk: Do you listen to Afro-Peruvian singers and percussion groups?

DJ Rat: I absolutely love Afro-Peruvian music, dances, and culture, and I love when conversations around AfroPeruvian culture can include the complex histories, struggles, love, and people who lived and live it.  I was part of a folkloric dance troupe in Lima, so I start geeking out, and don't know how much you wanted to go into this.

Arts Desk: Mafe, when did you come to the U.S. and to D.C. from Colombia?

DJ Mafe: I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and came to Miami 11 years ago with my family. I have been in D.C. for four years now.

Arts Desk: Mafe, did you ever think salsa dancing to Joe Arroyo at family parties was just for old people, and that you only wanted to hear alt-Latino, rock en espanol, and other things?  Now you like both, or have you always?

DJ Mafe: Back in Colombia, listening to salsa or merengue was not uncommon. It would be played in every Quinceañera party and minitecas (parties for underage kids). I would also hear my dad listening to boleros of Olga Guillot and the tropical music of Los Billos Caracas boys. When I arrived to the states my taste in music was redefined as I started listening to punk, rock en español, and more alternative sounds that my older brother introduced me to.  I think Latin alternative sounds have combined those two worlds. These sounds are mixing folkloric rhythms with electronic, rock, hip-hop sounds, which makes them appealing to this generation.

"Parranda Extravanganza" takes place tonight at 10 p.m. at Napoleon Bistro &  Lounge, 1847 Columbia Road NW.  $5. (202) 299-9630.

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  • Darby

    Awesome!!! Maracu-ya-tu-sabes!

  • linet

    tonight, i wouldn't want to be at any other party. Doing a Maracuya shot (non-alcoholic of course) outside the club!

  • alex DB

    WEPAJE let's gooooo B-)

  • Alan King

    I just wanted to share this. Last Saturday, Vicky Leyva brought the Afro-Peruvian Experience through dance and rhythm to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Read it at