In an inconspicuous corner in Pilsen, tucked away behind a wooden fence, a sweaty and obscene rave welcomed the most filthy. Past the smokers wearing all black puffing away at their Marlboro reds, individuals with harnesses, chokers, and a lot of pleather vibrated to the sounds of industrial techno in a packed Chicago basement. The subgenre of techno meshes clashes and harsh repetitive rhythms together.
Mictlan Production hosted their most recent FILTH event at contemporary art studio, Hidden Ideas, located in Pilsen. It took Amanda Flores, creative, artist, DJ, event planner, and sole person behind Mictlan Productions, a week to install chains, fences and art installations using windows and mannequin body parts. In Aztec mythology, Mictlan is the underworld for the dead with nine levels; the dead are guided by Aztec god Xolotl through the levels. Much like the dead finding their way through the underworld, the attendees of Flores’s events are also trying to find their way.
“I guess I’m just trying to find that presence for us in different venues that we wouldn’t usually be considered for that genre or the occult,” said Flores.
Under Mictlan Productions, Flores, also known by her DJ name, Flores Negras, began to curate events for the alternative Latinx community in 2017. The Alt scene, she says, often excludes people of color. She took inspiration from party nights at the now closed punk club, Exit. “I remember the bartender would always call it Mexican goth night, because she’s like, ‘all of you guys pull up,’” she said.
Since then, Flores has cemented a staple event at Subterranean in Wicker Park named Cumbia y Los Goths. Mixing cumbia and new wave sounds, a blend that to her just made sense, was the first event she put together.
Cumbia y Los Goths not only has residency at SubT, but has recently made its way to Pilsen. Kombi Chicago, a Latinx event production collective, and Mictlan Productions hosted the event Kumbiaholics y Los Goths at Simone’s, a Pilsen bar, on August 19. Mictlan also hosts events titled INFERNO, RATCHET AF, Necropolis, and FILTH.
“In the Midwest, especially, there’s just so much whiteness everywhere trying to tell us that what we like isn’t what we should like,” she said.
Flores aims to create spaces for communities like hers to let loose and be true to themselves. She remembers struggling with her confidence and, after leaving an abusive relationship, all she wanted to do was create a safe space for her and for anyone that needed one, too.
Her events feature vendors and DJs that come from all parts of the country. “I have been creating a relationship with people in LA and that all started when I did a live stream on Instagram.”
For FILTH, she was able to bring Jacob Gonzales aka NMX, who runs club Fallout in Los Angeles. Club Fallout hosts BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) shows that Flores said don’t feel creepy and “people weren’t being creeps.” She wanted to harness that expereince and execute it back at home.
“I wanted that feeling of being able to be your obscene self and being able to do that without the fear of anyone fucking with you,” said Flores.
For Flores, the making of the events and her continued success has been a journey of self-discovery and healing. She is close to six years sober and wants people to know that the rave scene isn’t centered around drug use.
“It’s also important for me being sober to be deep in that world to show people that it isn’t just for getting involved in drugs,” she said.
Her wellness and spirituality have extended outside of her nightlife events and into a wellness studio, Heal & Flo, that she’s slowly putting together.
She hosted her first market at the studio located in Lake View in July dedicated to showcasing healers in the community. Flores also goes to school for massage therapy and acupuncture.
As Mictlan Productions continues to grow, Flores says her mission will always be to foster and take up space.
“It’s important to feel like you belong somewhere or feel something that feels like home, that safety of ‘you’re okay to just be yourself.’”
Jocelyn Martinez-Rosales is a Mexican-American from Belmont Cragin, Chicago. As an independent journalist she’s passionate about covering communities of color with a social justice lens. She’s also the labor editor at the Weekly.