Las Cafeteras’ New Song Will Get Us Dancing To The Ballot

Las Cafeteras BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of hawaiipublicradio.org

Voting goes beyond choosing the next President of the United States of America. Elections are about loudly and proudly expressing the direction in which we want our country to go and the changes that are necessary to get there. 

If we want our voices to be heard, our needs to be covered, and our dreams to come true, then we need to show up and vote for what matters to us. There is power in numbers, and underrepresented communities, if united, are a force to be reckoned with. 

LA-based music band “Las Cafeteras” understands this, and through music, they are trying to help build “a world where many worlds fit.” 

The music group started in 2007 as a collective of native and migrant friends who wanted to learn Son Jorocho, a musical style originally from Veracruz, Mexico. What began as a bunch of friends jamming out on Son Jorocho music at the Eastside Café in El Sereno evolved into a band with already two albums and a remix album with DJ/ Producer Degruvme. 

The band, in partnership with The Center for Cultural Power and Poder Latinx, released the music video for its new song “Long Time Coming” on October 7th, featuring Las Cafeteras, Scarub of the group “Living Legends,” Stephani “La Mera” Candelaria, Kimsly and DJ/Producer Degruvme.  

BELatina spoke with members of “Las Cafeteras,” Hector Flores and Denise Carlos, and David Cardena best known as DJ Degruvme about this new project and the inspiration behind it. 

About the song “Long Time Coming”

“Long Time Coming,” considered by Hector Flores as an example of the evolution of their sound, was released before the 2020 election in an attempt to inspire and motivate voter engagement across the country while addressing some of the most pressing issues we are facing today. 

The song is really about how to take really heavy topics and subjects and make it feel like we can talk about it, we can sing about it, we can dance to them,” stated Hector. “We wanted to make a dance song that was conscious, a dance song that was for right now, a dance song to get people moving, grooving, and dancing to the ballot box.”

The catchy tune with its upbeat dance tempo is a protest song and a celebration anthem that honors a painful past, recognizes a turbulent present and anticipates change leading to a promising future.  

“The beat itself is a little disco (…), and that was like an acknowledgment, a head nod, an homage to black music, and black voices,” Said David, DJ, and Producer of La Junta Collective and co-producer of this track. “If people realize that a lot of the music they love is black music, or it has its origin in black music, they may think differently about the things they say and the way they treat people.” 

A closer look at the lyrics unfolds the myriad of issues and critiques contained in this musical piece. “The song was written in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor,” explained Hector Flores. 

According to a press release, lyrics like “put your fist in the air and fight with me, the cops in the streets kill violently, the judges in the courts they lie to me” respond to the recent court decision that serves no justice for the death of Breonna Taylor. 

About the music video

Filmed in the eastside of Los Angeles at the Chicanx-owned bar, XELAS, the music video for “Long Time Coming” follows a young Mexican woman who just voted on election day as she enters a bar full of movement, light, and joy. In this space, she encounters a community of diverse people but comes together to connect and celebrate the change that is coming and is long overdue. 

Hector Flores revealed to BELatina what the concept behind this music video was.

“We wanted to create a music video like an alternate world, like an underworld on election day. If our people were winning on election day, how would that feel like? How would that look like? What would it move like? (…) We wanted to show what celebration could be like when we don’t have to worry about being killed, being targeted, being chased, being basically suppressed in a time when immigrants, Latinos, black folks, or indigenous people are having their voices taken away. That was the inspiration.”

For Denise Carlos, there is also a more subtle message as the video converges two spaces where women are not always able to feel empowered the club and bar scene and the political arena.   

“I love what we are saying because I feel like politics are imposed on me as a mujer and as a daughter of immigrants. I am always trying to be who I am in a world that doesn’t always give me spaces of power. One of those places is the club and the bar scene, and I think we just have to marry all of that. I want to be able to celebrate and feel powerful wherever I am, whether that be on the dance floor, or at a bar, at my house, or voting,” Said Denise. 

About the change that needs to come

As our conversation went on, we delved into the difficulties of leading a joyful and fulfilling life when we don’t feel heard, represented, or taken into account by our country’s leaders.  

“It’s difficult to feel joy when you have a rent you can’t pay; when your family has an illness that can’t be treated cause you don’t have money, when your kids go to a school and is not in a good neighborhood, so they don’t get the proper resources. It’s hard to find joy when one of the richest countries in the world can’t provide for working-class folks,” said Hector. 

In the same way, Denise argued that while it is okay to be angry and anger was an appropriate feeling for our communities, taking that passion to the voting polls would be more transformative. 

“Let’s make sure our families understand we are not just voting for the president; we are voting for how we live our lives. And there are people whose life really depends on a lot of things that we are voting on. So I have the privilege where I can go and mark these little boxes that are going to impact the way we are running our country,” declared Denise.

When asked about the change they want to see in our country, Hector half-jokingly responded: “being able to see a dentist without the bill, you know what I mean? Not going to Tijuana to take out my molar.” 

He was getting at one of the many problems of the U.S. healthcare system. A system that, due to the high cost of care and lack of insurance coverage in the U.S., creates major disadvantages and financial burdens for our communities, forcing many Latinx people to look for cheaper services in their native country. 

Similarly, David spoke about the need for true democratization of information and education as the only way for minorities to really thrive and prove they are as talented as any other person in this country when they don’t have to face unfair disadvantages. 

“I think everybody should have access to the Internet, and if you can’t afford it, there should be a way to get it for free. And everybody should also have access to higher education for free cause, in my opinion, education and information are the great equalizers. It’s what allows this person who comes from another country, or comes from a tough background, to get on a leveled game field and say: Now I can compete for these jobs,” David told us. 

We ended our interview dreamily talking about what an optimistic future would look like for our communities and us. 

“I want to live in a world where I am not scared to be out in the street at night. I want to live in a world, or a country where people feel they can be their authentic selves and show up and not have to fight their way around it,” passionately articulated Denise.