Carolina Gonzales

Brooklyn, New York

Carolina González is a lecturer at the Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies Department at Rutgers University whose current academic projects focus on Caribbean transnational countercultures. As a journalist, she has covered Latin and world music for over 20 years in alternative and mainstream newspapers and magazines.



"DomiNegro turf: Whose Uptown?"

When “global tech” singer Maluca Mala sets her lyrical GPS to “182nd and Audubon” in “El Tigeraso” and parodist Juan Bago transposes Whiz Khalifa's Pittsburgh mash note “Black and Yellow” to an Uptown bodega-centric “Pan con Queso,” these Dominican artists are sonically and visually claiming their neighborhood for the group being displaced by newer residents, who are less likely to be Dominican or working-class. Sound has been an important field of struggle over belonging and control of public and cultural space in the neighborhood. It’s no coincidence that Washington Heights/Inwood has the highest number of noise complaints in Manhattan, one-fifth of calls to the city's 311 line, as culturally different notions of “noise” clash. Second-generation Dominican musical artists such as Maluca and “urban bachata” singer Anthony “Romeo” Santos, who characterized a recent bilingual bachata collaboration with Usher as “if I’m going to cross over, why not have the English audience cross over too, to my world?” are asserting their identity and their connection to the ethnic enclave in ways not seen before for this group.

But even more than in songs and accompanying videos full of Dominican neighborhood scenes, the flag-planting is happening at the level of the area’s club ecology. In the past decade, the ecology has shifted from strictly merengue-and-bachata to a bicultural, bachata + techno + hip hop/dancehall bass. From small bar/clubs like Apt. 78 to flashier venues like Umbrella, 809 and the revived oldie El Morocco, second-generation Dominican artists and entrepreneurs have established a sonic-spatial bulwark against displacement. This presentation will focus on a club ethnography of those spaces.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

2:15pm EDT