Ballroom [mixtape]

Ballroom Art1

This is the first time I felt compelled to make a mixtape for people I’ll never know.

Ballroom is dedicated to everyone who lost the fight of their lives when someone tried to silence an entire culture. It’s also a dive through my own personal history with dance music, exploring the deep end of the electronic ocean, the sounds that come out as everyone’s going home.

Tracklist appears as the songs play here, and at the bottom of this post.

Download mp3 version here.

This week saw the largest shooting massacre in the modern history of my country, the United States of America. In an Orlando nightclub, 49 people were killed and over 50 more were injured by a man fueled by deep hatred and armed with the kind of weapons you can buy pretty much anywhere in the country. This was a direct attack on the LGBTQ community, on the burgeoning sense of freedom they’ve enjoyed only in the most recent portion of history in this part of the world.

After shedding tears for the beautiful souls lost to such apocalyptic violence, I couldn’t help but meditate on how much work there still needs to be done in terms of acceptance, tolerance, and basic human decency. I was frustrated with my own inability to directly help; out of this frustration I began putting music together in the hopes of at least soothing this deep psychic wound.

I made this mixtape in honor of everyone we lost that night.

Ballroom is a love letter to the incredible culture that has been attacked countless times, the culture that has produced so very much of my favorite music over the years. Directly or indirectly, everything in this mix descended from the queer club scene that has been under siege since long before I was born and continues to fight for its life today.

Dance music can be an escape from reality, but there’s so much more it can achieve, so much more depth it can evoke. After all, transcendence is only achieved through engagement of the body and mind. Accordingly, this mix evokes a very specific transition from the periphery of the club to the outer edges of the atmosphere, kissing the stars as it sheds all earthly baggage. It’s a safe ride into the night, gliding toward sanctuary.

I selected each song here for its contemplative tone, sympathetic texture, and hopeful atmosphere. There’s a story being told, evoked most blatantly through two spoken word passages that emerge from the production. Close listening will give it form.

As brilliant transgender musician (and personal hero) Terre Thaemlitz once stated, people “pretend clubs are an oasis from suffering, but suffering is in here with us.

With that in mind, I really hope you enjoy this mix, whoever you are. It may be thematically heavy, but the songs here are a joyful parade of rhythm and form, a celebration of alternative culture itself, and a warm embrace for marginalized people around the world.

Here are the names of the 49 people who died in the club that night. May they never be forgotten.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D. Brown, 29
Darryl R. Burt II, 29
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D. Conde, 39
Cory J. Connell, 21
Tevin E. Crosby, 25
Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D. Drayton, 32
Mercedez M. Flores, 26
Juan R. Guerrero, 22
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Paul T. Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A. Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B. Josaphat, 19
Eddie J. Justice, 30
Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A. Wright, 31


“Why am I fascinated by clouds? Because they are a transient existence. No cloud can cloud us forever.” – Yoko Ono


Track list:

01. Aphex Twin – Ageispolis
02. Lnrdcroy – Ready
03. Cocainejesus – No Direction In Particular
04. DJ Sprinkles – Ball’r (Madonna-Free Zone)
05. Andy Stott – New Romantic
06. Studio OST – Above The Waves
07. 2814 – 真実の恋
08. Biosphere – Hyperborea
09. Underworld – Santiago Cuatro
10. CFCF – Chasing
11. Detroit Escalator Co. – The Inverted Man (Dreaming)
12. Global Communication – 5:23
13. Boards of Canada – Zoetrope

Thank you for listening.

5 thoughts on “Ballroom [mixtape]

  1. Pingback: What I’m Into This Week (6/12 – 6/25) | Optimistic Underground

  2. Pingback: Ghost Drive [mixtape] | Optimistic Underground

  3. Pingback: Luminous Path [mixtape] | Optimistic Underground

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