New Chilean Singer Neven Jogs a Mind Trip Back to the Land of “Tren al Sur”

There was a day when the few things I knew about Chile came from 80s-90s band Los Prisioneros, and their hit Tren al Sur and its accompanying video were perhaps the spark that drew me to travel to that  South American country for the first time only a few years after the dictator Pinochet was out of power.  Meeting Chilean friends via the internet really made it all happen in 1995, and then again 5 years later.  Once there, I was intrigued by the beauty of the Pacific coastline paralleled by the snaking range of the Andes mountains and volcanos, which runs the length of the country, and even more so by the kind, soft-spoken people (though I was, and still am, perplexed by the obvious political riff among these same people).

In Chile, I made it as far south to the city of Puerto Montt and the nearby gaelic-feeling island of Chiloe.  I took the bus, not the tren al sur, but it was very much one of the best tourist adventures of my life.  In more ways than one, this video and music still take me there.

I have such a place in my heart for Chile that I’m still ready to have a visit with anyone from there whom I might meet who has made his way up here to Houston.  Likewise, I keep myself informed about what’s happening there, at least that of significant importance.  I don’t hear much music out of Chile these days, maybe because most of my music listening time comes via  SiriusXM radio during my daily commutes.  Somehow, though, by clicking here and there on Twitter, I came across Neven (@Nevenilic).  His style of music might not be exactly the type I hear on my radio most of the time–it’s sort of Justin Timberlake-esque.  What’s more he’s not bad on the eyes.  There’s a brand new video of his most recent outing After Party, but I like even better una que salio´ last year called Bad.  Neven, not to mention the videos, is still a little raw, but he’s got the voice and talent.  Maybe we’ll be hearing more of him here in the U.S.

Take a look and listen. First, comes Bad: 

And now After Party: 

“Chiki Chiki” or “Chiki Bollo”? Make Your Choice Whatever It Is, But Come On, Y’all–Let’s Lighten Up For Awhile

Rodolfo Chilikicuatre

Rodolfo Chikilicuatre

The world can get a little “heavy” with people thinking about the swine flu, the economy, a couple of wars going on, and who knows what other worrisome things. Sometimes it feels like we all just need to “lighten up”, step back, and maybe dance.

The Spaniards have always been people who know how to help the world to have a good time. After all, they were the ones who brought us “The Macarena”. And not so many years ago, out of Spain came the Ketchup Girls (Las Ketchup) with their pig-Latinish hit “Asereje”.

Somehow I missed it, but Spain’s entry in the 2008 Eurovision contest has to be the follow-up to “La Macarena” and “Asereje”, but it still has a chance of making it across the Atlantic, as a lot of European “summer songs” take a whole year to become popular in the U.S.

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the Eurovision competetion. It’s something like the World Cup of music for Europeans. Every country has a national competition and sends its best competitor and song, usually pop or ballads, to the big European finals.

In 2008, Spain’s entry was Rodofo Chikilicuatre (who is really the  comedian David Fernández) with the song “El Chiki Chiki”. “El Chiki Chiki” is actually one of those spoof songs (sorta like “Grandma Got Run Overy by a Reindeer”–I say “sorta”) that got very popular. This guy will make you laugh if nothing else. Check out the tranlation into English here. There’s even been a gay version called “El Chiki Bollo”.

We all get too serious sometimes. If just one or two of you get a little chuckle or get your feet moving, it will be worth trying to finish this post late on a Sunday . . . oops, already Monday. And hey, it doesn’t matter whether you’re bilingual, trilingual, or even “no lingual”, you’re going to like these.

In case you forgot, here’s the Ketchup Girls:

And “El Chiki Chiki”:

And “El Chiki Bollo”:

Here are the words to “El Chiki Bollo”, which I got from a Spanish lesbian blog, I’ll try to translate them later, but basically, the idea is to dance your way out of the closet. You gotta love it!

Bollera! Bollera!

Salir del armario cuesta mogollón

No salen en la China y tampoco en Alcorcón.

No salen las ministras, no salen deportistas,

no salen periodistas, ni tampoco las artistas,

y del armario se sale así:

Uno: abre la puerta (One: open the door)

Dos: salte pa’ fuera (Two: jump out)

Tres: respira hondo (Three: take a deep breath)

Cuatro: ponte a vivir (Four: start living!)

Bollera, bollera,

Sal mi hermana, sal mi hermano

Sal del armario con las bragas en la mano

Las hay en la ciudad, las hay en los pueblos

las hay en los desiertos

y también en los conventos,

y del armario se sale así:

Uno: abre la puerta

Dos: salte pa’ fuera

Tres: respira hondo

Cuatro: ponte a vivir

Bolleras, Pa fuera, pa la calle

I Kissed a Boy (and I Liked It)!

The "Angel" on La Reforma, close to the Zona Rosa

The "Angel" on La Reforma, close to the Zona Rosa

I saw this video tonight on youtube by a Danish group (all those Scandanavian groups make me think of Abba) called Alphabeat. I have to admit I rarely buy anything new these days, and still listen mostly to a lot of the old stuff, mostly Euro-type dance music, add to it, a little of the new reggaton on the car radio. So anyway, this video was a totally 80s pop, remix version of their song “Boyfriend”, which I hadn’t heard before. (You can check it out on my Vid Box on the right. Also check out a couple of different mixes of Chris Salvatore’s “I Kissed a Boy” there too.)

So then I started thinking about my 80s (here comes “memory lane”), going out to the clubs and dancing to a lot of similar type remixes of all the pop (and still disco, especially eurodisco) hits of the 80s. But also in the 1980s was when I started listening to a lot of music–pop music, that is–in Spanish. I was really into my Spanish during that time, taking classes and practicing. I learned a lot from the music I listened to. It was really difficult to find pop music in Spanish here in Houston at that time, despite the city having some music shops in Hispanic neighborhoods. They carried some of that music, but mostly what they had was more traditional, like ranchera and cumbia stuff, and of course, mariachi. But I’d go looking. I did find some, like Mecano from Spain, Flans from Mexico, and Karina from Venezuela, and I’d play those cassettes over and over. (I found them on youtube too and what a rush of memories they bring back. Check them out on the Vid Box.)

At the same time was when the first TV channels in Spanish started appearing here in Houston. Mostly it was the Mexican telenovelas that they showed, but in about 1986 or 87, they started showing a half-hour video program originating from Mexico City, and I always tried to catch it. From that show, I found out what the current Spanish hits were, so I’d go trying to find them. In those days, of course, it was all cassettes, and everything pop in Spanish that I could lay my hands on, I’d buy. But like I said, it was really difficult to find much of it here.

At that time, my best friend was Arthur, one-half of a gay couple, who did quite a bit of traveling, both together and separately. They were my neighbors in the little apartment complex where I lived. I didn’t have much spare money in those days, but Arthur kept telling me that I had to go to Mexico City, and kept talking about it, so I scraped some money together and over Labor Day weekend in 1987, I flew to Mexico City, where I met Oscar, who had gone a couple days earlier, because his time schedule was more flexible than mine.

I got there in the late afternoon, fought my way through all the mass of people at the airport, and found a taxi, which took me to the hotel where we were staying, a few blocks away from the Zona Rosa. We ate and got some rest, and finally headed out to the clubs. Even in those days, Mexico City had quite a few gay clubs, and there were several in the Zona Rosa. Everybody always thought that because Zona Rosa means “Pink Zone”, it was the gay zone. But the Zona Rosa wasn’t just gay, there were all kinds of clubs and restaurants there, plus shops attracting both tourists and locals alike. There was also one of the busiest Metro stops very close by, so the mainly pedestrian-only streets were usually filled with all kinds of people, but, in particular, young people.

The most popular gay club in the Zona Rosa at that time (and I think maybe it’s still there) was called El Taller (which means the “shop”, like “workshop” or “mechanic’s shop”. Like most of the gay clubs and some of the straight clubs, there wasn’t a lot of identification for the place on the outside. You just had to know where it was. Of course, the location was in any international gay guide of the time, and the locals knew it, so you could definitely find it. Sometimes, there’d be a line waiting to get in, but when you got just inside, they would always frisk you, checking for weapons. Then, you’d pay, different prices for different nights, and almost always the entrance included a couple of tickets for drinks.

That night we finally went maybe around 10:30. American tourists always go too early to clubs in most foreign countries, because most places don’t get busy until 1 AM or later and some clubs don’t even open until like 4 AM to catch the “after” crowd. After paying, we headed down the stairs, because the main club part of El Taller was actually in the basement of the building. The club was composed of several areas and a couple of bars, which allowed people to move around from place to place, but when it got packed, sometimes the moving got difficult (but I wouldn’t know much about that until I had been there a few more times). That night Oscar and I hadn’t been in El Taller very long, probably just long enough to cash in one of the drink tickets, and I was still trying to get my bearings. I started looking around the room, and not too long after that, I realized someone was looking at me. And that looking back and forth became one of those moments, those moments which are really hard to describe, but one which has stayed in a little memory pocket somewhere in my brain for all these years.

Of course, we finally spoke, and he was Damian. He became my long-distance boyfriend for two years. Along the way, my Spanish got a lot better (because he didn’t speak English). I got to know some parts of Mexico City pretty well (certainly there’s a lot I never saw–it’s such a big city), and as well, I found a lot of music shops that sold the kind of music I liked. (I know you want to know more about Damian, but this is mostly about music, so I’ll keep the rest for another time.)

(And yeah, check out the video.)

(Another version here.:

A Couple of Bright Spots for Your Rainy (or whatever) Day

Here’s a couple of vids to brighten up your rainy, stuck-at-home-because-of-Tropical Storm Eduoard day.

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you might know that I have been into techno/techno-pop/pop/rock in Spanish for a good long time. Yeah, I have kinda eclectic interests–Spanish music, papillons, politics, quilting, demography, Kansas history–more depending on what day it is. Maybe if you want to know, some day I can write a post about how I got interested in this music. Here are two videos I really like; both are from Spain. I’ve always liked the European flavor of these kinds of music even though I have tons of stuff from Latin America too.

Andermay is a duo that’s more or less new too me. Gotta love the Almodovar colors in the set. Entre tu y yo

Haze (Ah-say) is a reggaeton/hip-hop artist. This one’s not very new, but it still works.

Potenzia Pa’ Tu Carro