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Monday, December 12, 2011

Lost in the Night: Maluca Tears the Roof Off Tormenta Tropical

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 5:00 AM

  • Kahley Avalon Emerson

Tormenta Tropical's Four-Year Anniversary

Dec. 10, 2011

Elbo Room

"You're never going to believe this. I just got a picture with the double rainbow guy! He's here!" Celebrities were in attendance at Tormenta Tropical's four year anniversary last Saturday. (Sadly, I wasn't the one to get a photo -- that honor belongs to Icee Hot DJ Rollie Fingers.) Regardless of the crowd, Saturday's event pulled out all the stops to honor its four-year run as one of the city's most eclectic parties.

We ascended the Elbo Room's staircase and were greeted by a large, dimly lit room packed from wall to wall with one of the most diverse crowds in the city. The unpretentious mass of people that included such sights as a a girl done up like Grace Jones (bald head and all), a large wild haired man in a tie-dyed T-shirt, a pack of girls in Quinceañera dress, and a whole bunch of open-minded revellers. This assorted group danced beneath a spectacle of green lasers, blaring strobes, and life-sized posters of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A tangle of Christmas lights provided limited dancefloor illumination, while an array of moving pictures (depicting Christian saints) lent the DJ booth a holy aura.

  • Kahley Avalon Emerson

We arrived just in time to catch Maluca Mala greet the crowd with an enthusiastic, "How ya doin', San Francisco!?" A quick blackout, followed by a blast of the house lights and rave horns, revealed her standing in dramatic pose, attired in a revealing pink plastic tube top, skinny black sunglasses, and a very serious expression. Wasting no time, she ducked into the beginning of a high-speed tour through the prime cuts of her China Food mixtape.

A dynamic force, Maluca bounced around the stage with an energetic glee. Tracks like "Lola (Ging Danga)" and "Que Que" saw her barking bilingual dance commands to a very receptive audience. The dancefloor itself began pumping like a trampoline. There were so many hands in the air that seeing the performance proved (at points) a difficult task. Nevertheless, her set showed a remarkable dynamism, and her natural charisma kept the room packed even through moodier moments like the house-tinged "Hector." She delivered chants of "Luna, Sol, Tierra, Fuego!" with an almost ritualistic intensity.

The highlight of her set came at the end during a rendition of her breakout single, "El Tigeraso." Immediately recognizing the high energy hit, the crowd went wild. Capitalizing on the moment, she began pulling people from the dancefloor to create a cast of amateur backup dancers. What started as a group of five uncoordinated guys quickly became a wall of people showing no shame. Manically shouting "El Tigre!" from the center of the stage, she brought the room to a climax and then collapsed while the music kept going. Getting up, she thanked the city and wished Tormenta a happy birthday.

Meanwhile, her DJ kept the crowd going onstage. Whipping the room into shape, he transitioned from the extreme tempo of Maluca's set into a more manageable groove of Latin house. This slower tempo paradoxically saw even more people rushing the stage, which created an impenetrable barrier, completely obscuring the DJ.

  • Kahley Avalon Emerson

Imagine the surprise, then, when a momentary glimpse of the stage revealed that Maluca's DJ had turned into Dutty Artz head honcho DJ /rupture. Sonically it was another abrupt shift, but one that nonetheless compelled people to keep on dancing. He played a speedily mixed set that leaned heavily towards the bass-heavy rhythms of contemporary dancehall, tribal guarachero, and other iterations of the global bass continuum. It was a sonic experience defined by wild accordions, barking MCs, "Pon De Floor"-esque rave sounds, and an insistent cabasa shake. The delirious energy of his set kept the room at a constant energetic peak. We ducked out shortly before the end to face the rare sight of Valencia street bustling with empty taxi cabs -- another fun end to a night out in San Francisco.


1. Maluca "El Tigeraso"

2. Maluca "Lola"

3. Sabo & Cassady "La Curura"

4. Erick Rincon "Amantes Guaracheros"

5. El Hijo de la Cumbia "La Mara Tomaza"

6. Ward 21 "Cosa Nostra Riddim"

7. Lloyd "Lay It Down (Dubbel Dutch Remix)"

8. Los Rakas "Abrazame (Uproot Andy Remix)"

9. Petrona Martinez "Sepiterna (Thornato Remix)"

10. Chancha Via Circuito "Calazada"

Lost in the Night is a column that follows the adventures of former promoter Derek Opperman as he reviews the shifting world of San Francisco nightlife. If you have a party that you would like covered, email


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Derek Opperman


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