Is cumbia the new punk? How Son Rompe Pera gets crowds moshing to marimbas in the streets of Medellín
Para los bailarines mientras son cumbios; para los marimbates mientras son cumbianos; pero mientras no lo son, no se hace.
It could be said that cumbia is a dance language, because it’s a language that people of all stripes can recognize and share. And it’s a language that has been evolving over many decades, from an old country music tradition of traditional dances to a new music that is at once highly expressive and danceable.
I was born and raised in Colombia but I’ve also spent a lot of time in Latin America. The influence of cumbia is felt all over the region. It can be heard in the Andean region of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, or Brazil, or in some of the best dance productions in Mexico and Latin America. It’s also seen in the street culture of Latin American countries. Cumbia is now being exported to the world through dance, music, fashion and theater.
Dance on the streets, dance on the radio, dance on the TV, dance in TV shows. Dance and sing in the barber shops of Medellín, dance in the video halls of Caracas, and dance in the parks of New York City and London, where people dance to the music of cumbia.
That’s the reality of cumbia. What does it mean to be a cumbian in the world?
But this reality is changing. The people who are making cumbia music are being forced to change it. The old cumbia music is disappearing, and it’s being replaced by a new generation of artists that are using cumbia as a vehicle to express themselves in an entirely new way.
My experience as an artist over seven years has been that the new cumbia represents a new era of cross-cultural communication. It’s not the same old language that some of the greatest musicians of the past had to pick through to discover their own, original, unique music within. Today’s cumbia