Dance music has a long history of comforting the afflicted. From the debauched drag balls in 1970s New York City to early mornings spent seeking refuge and release from a world made mad by the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s, dance culture has always served as a place of inclusivity and shelter when the world could offer neither.
Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House — along with the accompanying institutionalized xenophobia, racism, and rampant capitalism — has mobilized countless DJs, musicians, and figures in the music industry to continue the grand tradition of solidarity and empowerment. Locally, Miami’s very own Laura Sutnick is leading the charge to do some good with the power of grooves. Alongside immigration attorney and activist Lana Cucchiella, Sutnick has founded Resisdance, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and funds for progressive causes through, naturally, dance music. Despite the seriousness of the issues it’s seeking to tackle, Resisdance has relatively innocuous origins.
“It came from a random post I put on Facebook around the time of the immigration ban,” Sutnick recounts. “I said, ‘If I have an immigrant disco party, who wants to come?’ And within an hour, I had 100-and-something responses from DJs volunteering and people asking how they could help. So I was like, Shit, this is actually something we really could do.”
With help from Cucchiella, Miami DJ/producer Estela Slomp Romand, and friend Adriana M. Cruz, Immigrant Disco proved to be a success, raising thousands of dollars for the ACLU, the Florida Immigration Coalition, and Americans for Immigrant Justice. They’ll do it all over again tomorrow with Eco Disco, a dance party dedicated to the Earth, all it has to offer, and the people working to keep Miamians' heads above sea level.
Designated as the official afterparty for March for Science Miami, Eco Disco will donate proceeds to the march as well as EarthJustice and the Everglades Foundation. Sutnick, who's better known to local music heads by her DJ moniker, Laura (of Miami), and in her role as the musical director of Klangbox.FM, is keen on emphasizing the importance of keeping Eco Disco a local affair, ranging from the acts on display to the goodies offered in the silent auction, which include, but aren't limited to, gift certificates to Coyo Taco and Wynwood Diner and a yearlong family membership to the Frost Museum of Science.
“We wanted to do a mix of well-known Miami acts like Afrobeta and then newcomers... and people who are getting into other projects,” Sutnick explains. “[For example,] Ella Romand has her new Dsided project on there; that’s someone who has been around the scene but is doing something else.
“As far as other stuff that’s going on, we have these guys who are going to be doing live T-shirt printing; they are Inkstradamus... They’re going to do these designs by an artist named Erica Sheldon. She’s a typographist, and she gave us some really awesome designs with the hashtag we’re using: #305tilsealevelsrise.”
Although the organization was born of a specific reaction to a peculiar president, Sutnick hopes Resisdance will become a regular fixture in Miami nightlife, a rare and affordable opportunity for Miamians to combine their love of partying with some healthy philanthropy.
“We do want to do one for the LGBTQ+ community; we want to do one for education. These things are all being [negatively affected by the Trump administration] in their own way,” Sutnick says. “As much as it is a political reaction, I think that in the future, once Trump is not president — hopefully — we do want to keep the organization going. There’s always going to be a need for organizations. There’s always going to be social issues that need help and need money.
“The long-term is to keep doing these events past this whole nightmare.”
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