Miami DJ El Chino DreadLion Is a Walking Liberal Arts Degree

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“Okay, start asking so I can start answering.”

El Chino DreadLion didn't want to waste time when we sat down earlier this week. Born Eduardo Rodriguez in Cuba, his artistic grooming ranges from DJ booth to dance floor — and dressing room too. At the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte in Havana, Rodriguez studied dance, writing, painting, choreography, and even makeup. From a performance standpoint, a DJ with elite dancing skills would be a nice break from hand hearts and cake tossing.

“My dancing is good," he admits. "I’m a good songwriter, a good choreographer, a good producer, a good singer, and a pretty good photographer too. I’m confident, but not arrogant. I’ve worked hard at them all."

On the surface, those admissions may seem a bit overzealous, but review Rodriguez’s resume and it checks out. He left Cuba in the mid-'90s for Mexico as a member of the legendary Tropicana cabaret show. After six years of dancing, he moved to the U.S., where he would join the Grammy-nominated Latin fusion band Yerba Buena as a singer. They opened for Ray Charles and Dave Matthews, played in the Hollywood Bowl, and toured the world, performing national anthems for the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park along the way.

In 2009, Rodriguez recorded No Hay Mal Que Por Bien No Venga, his 13-track debut album. In 2011, he was in a car accident, and his vocal chords were crushed. He lost his voice and couldn't talk for a year, a problem that could prove fatal to a singing career. He opted to go the less-traveled route in his recovery and sought traditional treatments from a Mexican Indian and a Native American Indian to get his voice back. It worked, and around that time Rodriguez began to produce more house music and — in another shocking plot twist — even worked on a remix of the “Macarena.”

Yes, that “Macarena.”

“I DJed a lot as a teenager at parties, but not at clubs," he says. "But then a few years ago, I started DJing more and got some gigs. People started calling me and paying attention to me as a DJ and noticed my production work. I started playing around Miami at Space, Heart, and Vedado and was part of the Made in Miami crew with Oscar, G Ralph Falcon, and Lazaro Casanova. In less than six months, people started noticing me and appreciated me as a real all-around artist."

Tomorrow at Space, El Chino DreadLion will be on the controls along with Patrick M, Riotgear, and Basalga. Next week, Rodriguez will head back to Cuba to DJ and will return again in October alongside Chus & Ceballos.

“House music is the only music where I can see people trying to fly – for a moment people don’t have any problems. It’s more than a blessing to be part of this. And it feels good to see people appreciate something I’ve been working on my entire life."

El Chino Dreadlion with Patrick M, Riotgear, and Basalga. Saturday, August 13, at Club Space, 34 NE 11th St, Miami; 305-456-5613; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $20 via wantickets.com

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