On Friday, July 28, 2017, the Chulita Vinyl Club (CVC) Austin chapter was hired to play at the newly opened Upstairs at Caroline, a visibly Latin influenced venue, on the same bill as Superfónicos, a Colombian infused Funk band.
This event was part of a soft launch series at the Upstairs at Caroline's lounge, an extension of Aloft Hotels. We were told the event would be free and open to the public and we were encouraged by the promoter to invite our entire audience out. CVC is highly conscious of the spaces we choose to play. As part of our mission, we strive to create safe spaces of empowerment and togetherness for our community. We believed Upstairs at Caroline to be this space based on the information we were presented with, and knowing we were being paired with Superfónicos gave us a great sense of community.
Our first hour and a half set was extended per the venue's request to two hours. Those familiar with CVC know our set includes a well-curated variety of music such as disco, funk, motown, hip-hop, Latin, and world music. We are vinyl lovers and collectors, and as professional DJs each have our own style and choose our sets with consideration for the events and communities we are playing for. We had a great response from the crowd, complete with dancing and positive feedback in the form of support and words of encouragement. Multiple patrons approached members of CVC to express their enthusiasm for our collective.
After Superfónicos played their well-received and enthusiastic set, CVC in accordance with our booking and the venue's schedule, began the 45 minute set to close the night. During the last 10 minutes of the set, a man named Michael Childress, Assistant GM, rushed to one of our members and not only aggressively told us to stop our Latin music, but also posed as GM of Upstairs at Caroline.
>He approached one of our members commenting that the hotel did not want us to play Latin music anymore, that the vibe was too low, and to turn it off.
>When questioned who he was, he claimed that he was the GM and stated that "this" was not the vibe that the venue is going for and promptly told us that he would turn us off and play the venue's house music.
>We proceeded to pack up and leave the venue, the many supporters and fans we brought out followed us.
>While leaving David Meisner, the actual GM, and Adam Slyter approached CVC and in the video you can see the exchange.
CVC was disrespected. CVC recognizes that apologies are empty when actions do not follow and condemns the commodification and objectification of elements of our culture, while at the same time not accepting our culture or welcoming its community. We felt so uncomfortable and unwelcome at the Caroline venue that we cannot in good consciousness accept their money. Their non-inclusive attitude towards our collective and audience will be shared with our community in efforts to protect them from suffering the ill treatment we received.
CVC will not play or support spaces that naturalize aggression and acts of discrimination towards our culture or people. CVC firmly believes that playing Latinx music is part of our heritage and of visualizing cultural diversity in the country.
We are grateful to our supporters for their loyalty and ongoing encouragement. CVC sincerely apologizes for inadvertently putting them in an unwelcoming and exclusionary environment. We are eager to move forward and continue our mission to create safe spaces of empowerment and togetherness for our community.