Alexandra Buschman and Danishta Rivero writhe behind a candlelit table of busted electronics as a dembow beat skitters and woozy waves of coarse noise ebb and flow. Then Buschman pours the Puerto Rican pre-mixed cocktail Gasolina into her cervical cup and ceremoniously offers it to onlookers, all of whom imbibe with nearly religious fervor.
This Las Sucias performance last August at Second Act Theater, beyond illustrating the feverish intimacy of the group’s gigs, was freighted with meaning: Gasolina shares its name with a Daddy Yankee song that in 2004 popularized the genre that Buschman and Rivero revere but wish to subvert: reggaetón. And with the cervical cup, they put unedited femininity at the center of a genre that often treats women as decoration.
“You’d always been dreaming it and I’d always been dreaming it -- we had to deconstruct reggaetón,” says Buschman, 36, over chilled banana tart in her Mission District apartment. Rivero, 38, clarifies, “Well, maybe not even deconstruct... but destroy.”
Buschman is from Puerto Rico; Rivero, from Venezuela. In 2008, they began collaborating as students of composition and electronic music, respectively, at Mills College, and immersed themselves in the subterranean music scene. Before long, Buschman moved into a now-defunct West Oakland warehouse venue called the Zoo, where she cofounded the ongoing experimental series Labial Majority, and she’s booked gigs at other underground spaces ever since.
But Las Sucias, which started performing about a year ago, felt like a uniquely urgent project for the two, not least because the local experimental scene skews white. As Rivero says, “The most important thing that brought us together was that we’re Latina.”