Queer people of color created house music, Justin Cristofer said – a Queer DJ, promoter and producer in Albuquerque. Cristofer aims to take the idea of a Queer DJ and expand it beyond pop music as well as highlight the history of house.
House is a music genre characterized by having four-to-the-floor musical patterns and the tempo of 120 beats per minute, according to Harper’s Bazaar. Bringing house music to Queer Albuquerque spaces, Cristofer said, honors the history of the genre.
Cristofer designs his sets with the intention of creating safe spaces for Queer people by amplifying new Queer artists, Cristofer said. The artists that he plays put Queer power and energy into their tracks. One of his favorites – “Mutant Exotic” by LSDXOXO – displays Queerness through its lyrics.
“It is so fiercely Queer, and the way that the song was created – It's a house song … The song does so well in Queer spaces because of the lyrics … When I heard this song, I immediately fell in love with it. I was like, this is an artist that I need to put out there because not many people know who they are,” Cristofer said.
Jonah Salazar y Tafoya – the co-founder of CÉNIT, a Queer and BIPOC party collective – creates art installations and designs the lighting for the party venues. She likes to make the audience a part of the production with pieces like leopard print telephones and flowers that people can play with and take pictures of, Salazar y Tafoya said.
Salazar y Tafoya started CÉNIT with Jordan Magnuson and Roberto Claudio. They are interested in finding ways to get Queer people together by throwing parties to celebrate and create community, Salazar y Tafoya said.
“We were like, ‘We need an actual space here that's safe for other Queer, brown and black people’ … Everything is so spread out (in Albuquerque). So we were like, ‘Let's just figure out a way to get everybody to the same space (and) have community,’” Salazar y Tafoya said.
In addition to including songs covered and created by Queer people, Cristopher said he includes songs that the Queer community loves. Songs like “Two of Hearts” by Stacey Q that got popular through the Queer-centric film “Party Monster” often finds its way into his sets. The Queer influence surrounding the song and its ability to get people dancing, Cristofer said, creates a space for Queer people to come together and sing about love.
Creating spaces for Queer people to dance in is important because it can foster a healing experience, Salazar y Tafoya said.
“I've always found that going to a space where I know there's gonna be Queer people, I feel so much better. I go to a lot of raves and stuff and I've always found the function to be a really healing place ‘cause it's kind of the only time you get to dance it out. It's a lot of body movements – a lot of releasing,” Salazar y Tafoya said.
Messages of empowerment and community are important to center when creating music for Queer people. Cristofer said when he performs in Queer spaces, he plays lots of “bangers” – songs that get people dancing and singing to every lyric in order to fulfill that message.
“It's all about the message and the beat. You have to have both for Queer people to really be drawn in. I think because Queer people love to dance and – above all – we are not afraid to dance,” Cristofer said.
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox
When Cristofer plays sets in spaces that are not inherently Queer, he said he tries to sneak in Queer anthems – testing his audience with songs like “Call Me Maybe” and “Rain on Me.” Including Queerness in his sets, whether playing in a Queer space or not, is an integral part of his mission.
“I really work to be as Queer as possible when it comes to all of my DJ sets. Even if I'm playing somewhere that is not used to a lot of Queer DJs coming in and playing certain songs … I really think that it's important for Queer DJs to bring these songs to different spaces,” Cristofer said.
Cristofer has a couple songs that he has been playing in his set recently, including “Unwritten” by Natasha Beddingfeild; it’s a song that makes people feel amazing, Cristofer said. A song that is empowering and danceable, Cristofer said, is what makes a Queer anthem a Queer anthem.
“We, as Queer people – we love to feel empowered. And every time you can hear a song that makes you feel like … ‘I need to go out and continue to slay each day’ – that's really one of the things that I look for when I’m like, ‘This is a Queer anthem (and) this needs to be played out,” Cristofer said.
Addison Key is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @addisonkey11.
Addison Key is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo and served as the Summer 2023 culture editor. She can be reached on Twitter @addisonkey11.