DJ Dave Nada, L.A.'s chief ambassador for moombahton, a reggaeton… (Shane McCauley )
It's been two years since DJ Dave Nada spawned a dance genre that propelled him from Washington, D.C., nightclub fixture to unwitting sire of a rhythmic revolution. Since 2009, moombahton — Nada's woofer-rattling concoction of Dutch house and reggaeton — has become a rapidly mutating force in DJ culture, collecting piles of fans and eclectic sub-genres.
So, when Nada decided to relocate to Los Angeles in 2010 to further his DJ career, the monstrous music movement he hatched in D.C. wasn't far behind.
"I've made it a point to really push it since I've been out here," said Nada, 33. A resident of downtown L.A. for the last year, Nada (born Dave Villegas), has successfully united marquee local DJs to spread moombahton throughout the L.A. club music scene.
At a massive recent moombahton block party for Philadelphia-based label Mad Decent, punks, ravers and posh clubgoers converged in downtown's industrialized Premiere Events Center for bass-undulating sets by Major Lazer, Dillon Francis and Nadastrom (Nada's DJ duo with Matt Nordstrom). Pressed against the stage barriers, water-soaked partyers created waves of upstretched arms as shouts, cigarette smoke and the occasional crowd surfer floated overhead.
"It's the type of music that's not pretentious," Nada said. "It doesn't matter what kind of haircut you have or what scene you identify with. The beats really draw from a huge spectrum of music."
The moniker combines "Moombah," the name of the Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie track remixed by Afrojack that Nada manipulated on the fly at a cousin's basement party in 2009, and the urban Latin genre of reggaeton. It also differentiates itself by slowing down to 108 beats per minute instead of the 130 found in most electro music.
In D.C., Dave's sound garnered slews of packed shows and a demo release from local label T&A Records. Since coming to L.A., he's cultivated connections and DJ compilations through Mad Decent, which throws a moombahton night, "Blow Your Head," the first Wednesday of every month at the Hollywood bar Little Temple.
Other moombahton mainstays include the Standard and La Cita in downtown and the Shortstop in Echo Park. Nadastrom's hip-grinding beats also landed a prime spot at L.A.'s Hard Summer festival two weeks ago. In recent months, L.A. has also experienced an influx of other moombahton-spinning DJs from out of town.
DJ Sabo, a fixture of the New York scene for 11 years, said Nada persuaded him to move to L.A. a few months ago, citing the burgeoning moombahton and DJ/dance scene. Sabo (a.k.a. Will Sabatini), a veteran cumbia "crate digger" and moombahton enthusiast, quickly noticed a crush of attendees to his new DJ night at the Standard's rooftop bar.
"Prior to moombahton, there weren't Latin styles that incorporated the dramatic break beats in electro," said Sabo, 35. "It's something I've been looking for for a while; it was just sitting there, then Dave did it."
By October, local DJ and Mad Decent's creative director, Paul Devro, hopes to launch another weekly moombahton night and eventually bring Moombaton Massive (Nada's D.C.-born moombahton-style rave) to L.A. Online, the Internet hub Sound Cloud keeps the genre growing throughout North America, Europe and Latin America.
"The style has grown online and at live shows very organically, which is why it's going so well," Devro said.
Nada adds, "As far as the crowd vibes go, moombahton is just as strong out here as it is in D.C. And it's getting stronger."