The 2021 Pop Convergence: A Virtual Pop Conference, April 22-25th
Artwork by Alex Nero; Design by The Art Dictator

Jewel Pereyra

“No Requests”: Pinay Mobile DJ Cultures in the Washington, D.M.V. Area

This critical karaoke presentation details the myriad ways that Filipina Mobile DJs construct and fashion their racial and gendered identities within the Washington, D.M.V. (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) area. Ranging from the National Mall and the Eaton Workshop (Hotel) to makeshift house parties and now virtual Zoom sets, they curate their live events, radio shows, and online playlists with disco, rock, and funk music, predominantly by women of color artists. This presentation considers how Filipina American DJs perform within D.C. 's changing nightlife and radio cultures, scenes that have historic roots in African American bebop, soul, jazz, and house music traditions. Many Filipina DJs work and participate in these cross-racial and often masculinist spaces, in homage to Black and Filipina women punk rock, R&B, and pop artists from the 1960s and 1970s. Based on oral histories conducted in 2019, and accompanied by the soundtracks of Celeste Legaspi and Roberta Flack, this presentation centers the stories and lives of Les Talusan (“Les The DJ”) and Cynthia Blancaflor (“DJ Uni.”). Amidst these soundwaves, in which Celeste Legaspi’s “Pag-Ibig ng Lubos-Lobos” pays tribute and covers Roberta Flack’s song “Feel Like Makin’ Love” in Tagalog, this presentation unveils how each DJ ruminates on their own diasporic notions of race, gender, and sexuality through their music careers. In detailing their upbringings and experiences, their stories expand our understandings of how Filipina American immigrants—first and one-point-five generation—negotiate the politics of identity, place, and community in the D.M.V.

Jewel Pereyra is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the American Studies program at Harvard University with a secondary focus in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her interests primarily include 20th and 21st century Transnational Asian American Literature, Performance, and Popular Music with an emphasis in the Philippines. Her current dissertation explores Afro-Filipina print, sound, and performance cultures in Asia, the U.S., and Europe since the Philippine-American War.