This past fall, perceptive Chicago art lovers may have noticed the absence of one long-standing tradition: after forty-five years, the Pilsen East Artists’ Open House wasn’t happening.
This month, TRQPiTECA, created by Natalie Murillo (aka La Spacer) and Jacquelyn Guerrero (aka DJ Cqqchifruit), celebrates its two-year anniversary. The monthly event, most often held at Junior’s Sports Bar in Pilsen, is part tropical dance DJ night, part performance art, and part electric beach aesthetics (think sequins, disco balls, and blow-up palm trees). The result is a sensory paradise that revolves around the vast array of artists and performers in Chicago’s queer scene. The Weekly spoke with co-hosts Natalie and Jackie about the inception of TRQPiTECA, the importance of Chicago’s house music scene, and dancing as a form of resistance and healing.
Ruben L. Garza, Jr. is the vocalist for Through N Through, a four-person band of Little Village natives who write music about their experiences growing up young and Latinx on the South Side. They are not the first to do so: punk bands like Los Crudos have become synonymous with the local music scene in Little Village and Pilsen by wearing their heritage on their sleeves. But Through N Through is different. Although Garza says he prefers the label “hardcore” for Through N Through’s music, the thick guitar tones, crushing palm-muted riffs, and cutting kick drum all show the band’s heavy metal roots bursting through to the surface, with Garza’s hardcore punk vocals adding a defiant and satisfying finish.
All photography by Manuel Velasco.
What do bicycle and nature trails have to do with gentrification?
“The city’s done a good job on playing down [lead contamination] as not being a problem, while at the same time they recognize it is a problem and are doing things to mitigate it.” Troy Hernandez
“It’s what he loves to do, it’s what I love to do.”
I live right up here, on top of the bakery. I have been living here since 1973…well, since I opened the shop. I remember that I bought the bakery back in the seventies. In those days they were giving money away. That is to say, when I came to Pilsen back in the day from Mexico I met a man who talked to me about opening up my very own bakery. He said, “Come with us. You open the business, and we’ll provide the money.” It was hard to believe, having just come from Mexico, where at the time things like this were just not happening, but in Pilsen it was so easy. This neighborhood welcomed countrymen like me and gave us opportunities.