Photo by Marin Vesely

The opening night, late-night performance of PICA's Time Based Arts Festival (TBA), featured three members of the Noche Libre—a radical Latinx DJ collective—spinning records and new sounds for two glorious hours, throughout PICA’s cavernous mainspace. Festival attendees danced with friends and strangers after a long day of engaging with challenging performance art from the likes of Cannupa Hanska Luger, Eiko Otake, and Holland Andrews.

The three DJs representing Noche Libre were DJ Mami Miami (Chicana writer and regular Mercury contributer Emilly Prado), DJ Lapaushi (Ecuadorian DJ and visual artist Inés Paulina Ramírez), and DJ La Cósmica (writer, artist and DJ, Dez Ramirez). You can read their mission statement, discover upcoming shows, and find a full list of their members on their Facebook page. Stellar visuals for the performance were provided by Anabel Uyana (AKA Mofractal) a 2D and 3D motion graphics artist.

Photo by Marin Vesely

Speaking with Prado (a founding member of Noche Libre) a few hours before the show, Prado told me that the collective's mission—to create space for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, both on stage and among their audiences—extends beyond the DJ booth. All of the group’s members have aspirations besides DJing, but being part of the collective gives them a platform to support each other in other aspects of their lives. “Knowing you have a community, that has your back, makes us more powerful,” Prado said.

Around the world, dancehall music scenes try to create space for people to share embodied experiences safely, regardless of barriers like language, race, ethnicity, age, or gender expression. The members of Noche Libre, which translates roughly to “free night” or “night of freedom” strive to expand that endeavor and that “free night" to their audiences. Noche Libre's eight members include writers, visual artists, entrepreneurs, activists, and music industry professionals. Their performance, opening this year’s TBA Festival, provided the perfect opportunity for them to further their expansive socio-political project: fostering diversity and inclusivity in all of their creative circles.

Photo by Marin Vesely