Andy Herrera, a.k.a. DJ Big Latin, has been spinning cumbia, bachata, merengue, and reggaeton around the Valley for the past four years, and the portly Dominican has always been one step ahead of the trends, helping to launch the Valley's first (and still most popular) reggaeton night at Jackson's on 3rd, networking with the Valley's Latin radio stations, and bringing national acts like Chosen Few and Ivy Queen into his shows. Though he no longer spins at Jackson's, he's filled his schedule with other caliente weeklies and can be found working the turntables at La Perla Cafe on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; Tilly's on Thursdays; Macayo's on Fridays; and CBNC on Saturdays. He makes some mean mix CDs, too, so if you like what he pulls out of his stacks o' wax when you're shakin' your booty on the dance floor, ask him nicely and he'll probably hook you up.
In its past incarnation as the Crowbar, Club Dwntwn was a hip-hop and Top 40 palace catering to gay clientele. Now, the club is one of downtown's top gay Latin hot spots, offering two dance floors with DJ-spun cumbia, salsa and Spanish-language rock. Despite the recent surge in popularity, Latin-Jamaican hybrid reggaeton (pronounced "reggae-tone") is only played at a handful of clubs, and it's why we flock to Dwntwn on Beat Lab Saturdays. DJ's Rubass, Joey and Ponk scratch wax until the wee hours of the morning, playing tunes like "Oye Mi Canto" and Daddy Yankee's mega-hit "Gasolina" as a sweaty throng of dancers grinds to the trademark Dem Bow beat. The only drawback is the dress code, which seems to have taken a cue from Dwntwn's posh neighbor, Amsterdam. No baggy pants, sneakers or sunglasses for guys, although chicas are allowed to wear anything they want as long as they look muy caliente!
Karamba
No doubt about it now Karamba is purely a gay Latin club, even if it's best known for having hosted the hugely popular '80s/electro/glam night "Hot Pink!" on Fridays. Club owners recently replaced "Hot Pink!" with "Vertigo Fridays," a reggaeton and Latin dance night, complete with lithe, gyrating go-go boys. The rest of the week is filled with Latino/Latina drag shows and more dancing. So really, any night of the week here is a great gay Latin dance night. But "Kaliente Saturdays," now the club's longest-running weekly night, brings out the most buff and beautiful boys. "Kaliente" also kicks the most comprehensive and diverse of Latin jams, including salsa, merengue, cumbia, rock and pop en espaol, and high-energy Latin house, spun by DJs Tranz and Melo. Best of all, there's no cover before 10 p.m.
Although it might take you a few extra minutes to get through the long line outside this west-side Hispanic hangout, the wait will be well worth it, if for no other reason than to peep the outlandish fashions on display by the throng of Latino clubgoers who flock to the ultra-popular Club Macarena every weekend. Rancheros sport shiny new cowboy duds complete with roach-killing boots so pointy they look like they're straight from the mind of Salvador Dali while bootylicious barrio babes show off outfits so flattering to their posteriors they'd make J.Lo blush. Once you've gotten an eyeful, make your way into the crowded nightclub for an earful of sweet cumbia, norteo and reggaeton tracks spun by local DJs, or live mariachi music after 11 p.m. If you can somehow get a spot on the crowded dance floor, try busting some moves with plenty of cabrnes and mamacitas, or see if you can snag a roaming Polaroid photog to take your picture for only a five-spot. After all, you'll need something to help jog your memory after awakening from your drunken haze the next morning.

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