David Gómez (Bogotá, 40 years old) has a half-life in Madrid and knows the world of night, music and leisure well. Event producer, DJ and music producer, he is part of projects such as Tropical Macaw – an electro cumbia party that has been held a couple of times a month for eight years now – or the reggaeton sessions of Escuelita del Perre. Together with Diana Vela (Madrid, 33 years old) he has been organizing solidarity events in the capital for a year, under the name of The Cosmic Serpent. The next edition, the seventh, will be March 22 at Sala Independance.
What led you to look for the cocktail of musical leisure and solidarity events?
I grew up in a very conflictive Colombian area, in a family not at all wealthy, that is, I come from a difficult situation economically. There, the nursing homes are totally different from the way they are here, and you see the old men asking for money on the street. Before Guacamayo Tropical he worked as a waiter and sent them, from time to time, 100 or 200 euros, and with that they made 100 market purchases. It was wonderful for me to hear the voice of the old men on the phone, thanking me. Then, we took out a clown project that is responsible for making hospitalized children laugh. For me it is very rewarding.
The Cosmic Snake goes in that line.
It is a 100% solidarity music event that seeks to help indigenous communities, many of which are in danger of extinction.
How did the idea come about?
On a trip I made to the Colombian jungle together with my partner Diana Vela. There I was aware that the tribal musical influences that many DJs use come from these communities. I realized we had to return the favor in some way. Then I asked them what they needed. Based on your needs, we started organizing solidarity events in Madrid. The name is inspired by Jeremy Narby’s book that talks about the wisdom that shamans get about the nature of things after ingesting ayahuasca.
How much is usually collected?
In the event that we raised the most, it was in the first one, that we got to collect about 800 euros, after covering all the expenses. In the last one we only got 200 euros. The change of premises may have influenced. It was the first time we did it outside the Tabacalera. Putting people in a shop on a Sunday afternoon is more complicated.
Is Madrid solidarity?
People still lack a lot of awareness. We are at a point where people are waking up and becoming increasingly involved in social and solidarity projects. If I go in the subway and take 10 euros, it costs me nothing to give 50 cents to someone who comes to ask me. I learned this from my uncles in Bogotá, who, when the homeless approached, helped them with a smile and even messed with them. It was another energy, which I sometimes miss in Madrid. It is not that I am over money, but I have always believed that we must help the one who is worse than one. I would say that Madrid, as a city, is supportive, but as for night or musical events, I think not. A lot is missing.
What would it take to get this?
Perhaps there is more support from public institutions, such as municipalities, that reward the creation of such events.
How has Madrid changed since it arrived?
It has changed a lot. When I arrived in 1998, with 10,000 pesetas a lot was done. Those bills were big. One went out with that amount and gave up. Even with 5,000 pesetas things could be done. Today with 50 euros is not so much. The purchasing power has been lost, and the rent has become more expensive, for example. More immigration is seen, but more integration is also seen.
Do you think that cumbia and world music have helped this integration?
I think so. Latin American music that arrived in Europe was the canned one: Shakira, Marc Anthony, Juanes, or Carlos Vives. And since we, with Tropical Macaw, began to show non-commercial music, but which is the one that precedes all these canned (and is really good), it begins to create an influx, a scene that connects with the Spanish public , European and, of course, Latin American, too. I think we are breaking with many barriers and prejudices.
Tropical Macaw has established itself as an electro cumbia session. “We started as djs, playing music that was not heard here. At first people frowned, but now we are one of the promoters of events and concerts of tropical music. And we are introducing Arabic and Balkan music, ”he says.
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