There is no feeling like walking into a nightclub with your closest friends or a family birthday or wedding party with loud music playing that you can feel to the core. Those nights that you don’t want to stop dancing because song after song either reminds you of an intimate memory or is a new experience you don’t want to miss out on.
I still remember the pure joy I felt at my first warehouse show. Nothing else matters when you have your closest friends dancing by your side with music that can be heard from around the block and a colorful light show to further captivate the audience. Nights like these are possible because of a DJ who knows how to read and capture the audience and can keep the music flowing.
If you know anything about Latinx people, it is that we know how to throw a good party, and everyone and their abuelas are welcome. Coming from a culture that loves to celebrate any special occasion with music, from quinces to wedding parties and anything in between, Latinx DJs know that great music is essential to an unforgettable night. Since Los Angeles has about a 49 percent Latinx population, one is sure to find some of the best Latinx DJs here.
DJ B-ROKK, Dr. Defiant and Fromage Blanc are some of the Latinx DJs in the Los Angeles area you’d be wise to follow for summer nights out dancing with your loved ones. Each, with their unique approach to mixing, exhibit their passion for music in each set they play.
As a huge hip hop fan, DJ B-ROKK dreams of playing the opening set for his favorite artist, J. Cole, at the Staples Center. Dr. Defiant and Fromage Blanc focus on EDM sets and share the dream of playing at Sound Nightclub because of its superior sound quality and the memories they have watching their favorite DJs at this venue.
Brandon Ayala, known as DJ B-ROKK, is not only a nightclub DJ but also mixes for birthdays, weddings and other private celebrations. No matter the event, he wants his audience to walk away with an unforgettable memory.
“I don’t just play music; I make sure you have an experience,” said Ayala. “I want them to walk away remembering that moment…that moment when you’re with your closest friends…or when you’re at a family wedding when everybody is dancing or singing to their favorite song. It’s the music that was playing and the people that you’re with.”
Music has always been an outlet for Ayala when he’s going through stressful times. He started mixing when family stress was overwhelming, yet he was able to find solace in music. Now, as a DJ, music is not only a source of serenity, but also an entrepreneurial outlet for his creativity.
Before Ayala began mixing, he played electric and acoustic guitar. As a house music fan around 2008, he loved the mashups he was creating in the video game DJ Hero, which encouraged him to learn how to mix. He started taking classes in the eighth grade at Scratch Academy where they taught him to mix with vinyls before he was allowed to use a computer.
After mixing for 12 years, four years as a hobby and eight years as a profession, Ayala is able to cater each set according to the audience’s mood and taste. Whether he plays at a wedding, nightclub or as the resident DJ at Long Beach State University, you can hear the dedication to his artistry. He’s experienced with house music, hip hop, reggaeton and even throwback hits from the 80s and 70s. His sets are filled with an energy that has people dancing and singing along to the songs he’s playing.
“There’s so much power that music has,” said Ayala. “When you’re the guy controlling what to play, when to play and how to play it, you can change people’s moods based on that control that you have. You can see the moods and reactions from different people based on the type of music, and you can tell it’s because of the music.”
Ayala is driven to perfect his craft both while mixing and when planning and promoting events with nightclubs and other organizations. As an entrepreneur, Ayala is also passionate about curating events whether he’s part of the managing team for the Angel City Market, helping manage and promote nightclubs, or starting his own events. Ayala’s “Let’s make it happen” mindset helps him expand his passion for music to the community.
“I’m blessed to be in the position I am now, and I love it,” he said. “If there’s anyone else who is interested in music, whether it’s DJing or throwing their own event or even photo booths, I’m definitely here to help those people because, if we don’t help each other out or help each other grow, then the community itself won’t grow.”
Keanu Escobar, known as Dr. Defiant, was always the friend who would send others new music he’d find.
“I love the feeling of showing people something new. … What I specifically like is when I show people music that I tailor to them,” said Escobar.
Now as a DJ, he focuses on giving his audience a new experience with music that resonates with them, but they’ve never heard before.
“I just want to keep pushing the boundaries and setting the bar as high as possible and not settling for whatever’s popular at the moment; I like to explore,” he said. “One of the things I like to tell myself all the time is there’s so much music out there. You haven’t heard your favorite song yet.”
Through Escobar’s passion for finding new music, his friends encouraged him to start mixing, and in summer 2017, he started playing sets at friends’ house parties. By August 2017, he had successfully landed his first gig at a hotel pool and is now signed to two DJ collectives, Poler Nights and House Supply. He’s mostly known as a house and tech-house DJ, but during quarantine, he began playing more techno and industrial music.
While listening to one of Escobar’s sets, the audience is enveloped in the beauty and energy of the music he plays. He’s constantly looking for new music, making up such an extensive library of music that he’ll rarely play the same song in more than one set. Two of Escobar’s favorite genres to play at the moment are minimal techno and progressive house. Even though most people haven’t heard this kind of music, his sets draw people in.
“I feel like it really resonates with crowds, and I have a very good sense of playing something that’s new but still with the energy of something that you’re familiar with,” said Escobar. “It doesn’t really feel like you’re convincing people to like it, they already feel like they should, I wanna make it sound like you’ve heard it, but you definitely haven’t…it gives it a little bit of a flare that you’re consistently intrigued by it.”
Music has played a central role in Escobar’s life. He found a strong connection with like minded people through events centered around music. It helped him open up because of an environment that cultivates expressive freedom. After experiencing the impact music has, Escobar focuses on giving the audience the feeling that they’re looking for as a DJ and with his event brand, Secret SFV.
Escobar started Secret SFV to ensure that the San Fernando Valley has their own events so people can enjoy the type of experience that made him passionate about music. He is constantly inspired to spread the love he has for music. He dreams of playing at Nocturnal Wonderland, the first rave he went to and one of the main inspirations for his music career.
“That to me was the pivoting point in my life when I realized that I wanted to be a part of this type of music for the rest of my life. I knew it wasn’t going to be a phase,” said Escobar.
Erick Alvarez, known as Fromage Blanc, understood the power of music as a seven-year-old when his aunts and uncles would take him to the Danzas Aztecas.
“They would all dress up with conchas around their ankles, big feathers and Aztec outfits,” said Alvarez. “We would go to a bonfire and people were there with massive drums and sticks…Aztec music is a lot of drums and then the rest of the sound comes from the stepping that we make and the instruments we hold on our ankles so it’s cool how the artist is making the drum patterns and the people themselves fill in the rest of the music with their movement. That’s when I realized, ‘Oh this is powerful.’”
Alvarez grew up in a musically inclined family. As a child he remembers seeing his grandfather had a garage filled with instruments for his band.
“[Music] has always been what gets me up in the morning, it hits close to home,” he said. “Music saved my life. I don’t think I would be the same person I am today if it wasn’t for music; it keeps me going.”
Music began taking a more active role in Alvarez’s life when he started to DJ during lockdown in 2020. When people’s lives came to a halt, Alvarez cured his boredom by diving into his passion for music. He learned how to mix with his uncle who’s a DJ in San Francisco and other DJs, and by studying professionals’ sets on YouTube.
In October 2021, Alvarez started playing in front of live audiences. By the next month, he was already signed to the Poler Nights collective after being scouted by Keanu Escobar. Alvarez learned to mix using mostly bass house. As he attended more events after lockdown, Latin house was popular, and he realized how much he loved it, but most of those DJs aren’t Latinx. In his sets, he also incorporates Latin house as a way to reclaim the Latinx influence in the genre.
“Latin house is my favorite to mix because of the drums,” said Alvarez. “I like the Latin essence that is tambores. I feel that those always have a way of making me move my hips so if you can get somebody to move their hips, you already got them in a good groove. … I definitely want my sets to be a journey, but at the end of the day, we’re here to dance.”
Throughout Alvarez’s sets, one can distinctly hear the Latinx influence. The beats and instrumentation of the music he plays effortlessly invite you to dance. Latin house music is a refreshing spin on Latinx music because it’s a new sound based on the music that Latinx people grew up listening to.
There is such a wide variety of music in Los Angeles that no matter what your music taste is, there is probably an event playing what you like in the area. From multi-day music festivals to underground events, southern California has a unique musical landscape. A night out in Los Angeles isn’t complete without those bacon-wrapped hotdogs sold at the exit of the nightclubs or concert venues.
Each time I’ve gone to listen to any of these DJs, I leave the venue with a full heart and refreshed energy. Whether you want to dance to the classic songs that have kept you moving throughout your life, or want to discover new music, these DJs deliver unforgettable experiences. Be sure to check out their socials for upcoming events and their SoundCloud accounts for sets they’ve published, and contact them if you need music for a memorable event.
DJ B-ROKK - https://www.instagram.com/djbrokk/
Dr. Defiant - https://www.instagram.com/dr_defiant/
Fromage Blanc - https://www.instagram.com/fromageblanc_official/
DJ B-ROKK - https://soundcloud.com/djbrokk
Dr. Defiant - https://soundcloud.com/dr_defiant
Fromage Blanc - https://soundcloud.com/fromage_blanc