Close your eyes. Imagine an empty dance floor illuminated by colorful lights. You have a beer in your hand, and there’s a cutie across the room making eyes at you. Then the DJ drops “La Chona” by Los Tucanes de Tijuana. What do you do?
If you’re at Noche Romántica, you finish off that beer, walk over to the cutie, ask them to dance and then get your ass to the dance floor.
Adrian Huerta/Noche Romantica/Instagram
Noche Romántica is a dance party dedicated to bringing the quince to the club, spinning all the música Latina that are the staples of family parties. That means cumbias, boleros, corridos, románticas, banda, norteño and more.
Leslie Mendez/Noche Romántica/Instagram
Noche Romántica nights are packed with young people reliving their upbringing one song at a time. That includes José Luis Arreguin, who started the night in San Francisco with Jose Trujillo back in 2012. Since then, Noche Romántica has become the night to bust a quebradita in LA and New York as well, adding Joshua Lasso, Dave Salvaje, Maryann Aguirre and a slew of guest DJ’s.
“[Trujillo] and I started talking about how there are no nights that play Latin music and the music we grew up listening to,” says Arreguin. “There was salsa nights, but it just wasn’t the same. We wanted to play románticas and corridos, and there was no one doing that. We all grew up around the music. We want it to be like you’re going to a quinceañera.”
Seeing the Latino population shrink due to gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission District gave Arreguin and Trujillo further reason to create the night.
“The culture was changing in the Mission, so we wanted to keep some of it alive by playing the music,” he recalls.
Arreguin also looks back to his childhood at family parties held in remote ranchos: Running around amongst horses, playing hide and seek and catching a buzz after drinking near-empty cans of beer.
“My parents would be dancing, kicking up dirt. And they’d be nice because they were a little tipsy and having fun,” says Arreguin. “The music stands out in my mind. There was really good music. I just remember those moments. They were so beautiful to me. I want to recreate that feeling through the music we play.”
The DJ’s seemed to have successfully tapped into that nostalgia for those that come to dance, or cry, at Noche Romántica.
CREDIT: Noche Romantica
“Dancing is obviously a good sign. They’re having a good time,” says Arreguin. “But I trip when people are standing there holding a beer and I play a song, and then they look down at the floor and their eyes start filling with tears. I’m hitting a nerve; a memory. I love getting those reactions. Or they’ll come up to me and share a story when I play a song. I’ve heard so many stories at our nights. I love that. I love that these songs bring back memories for people.”
As far as which song always gets the dance floor poppin’, Arreguin says you can’t go wrong with “La Puerta Negra” by Los Tigres Del Norte.
“Just the way it sounds. It’s so distinct,” he says. “Right away you know what it is and it gets people going.”
Here are 15 more Noche Romántica bangers, curated with mucho amor by the collective of DJ’s, to get you in the mood until the next party, which you can find by following Noche Romántica on Instagram.