In San Diego, moombahton might just be the new dubstep.
At the Sept. 21 kickoff of Bajaton, a new moombahton night at U-31, the bar was only about half full, but something about the music—perhaps it was the combination of manic synths and massive, syncopated bass drums—was driving people crazy. Guys were jerking around wildly, inventing ridiculous dance moves on the spot. One girl kept dropping to the floor, bumping and grinding, lost in raunchy reverie.
I’ve seen people get crazy at dubstep nights, too. Indeed, both genres are often loud, heavy and borderline obnoxious—like all the best party music. But while the trendy, chainsaw-ripping dubstep that DJs have been spinning lately has about as much grace as an NFL linebacker, even the hardest, heaviest, most headache-inducing moombahton tracks have soul. The Latin-flavored beats seduce you, making you move even if you don’t want to.
Also unlike dubstep, moombahton is a young genre. It first emerged in late 2009 when a DJ named Dave Nada thought to slow down an Afrojack remix of DJ Silvio Ecomo’s Dutch house track “Moombah” to a sensuous 108 beats per minute. The stuff I heard at U-31 wasn’t all that different from Nada’s original creation, but DJs have already coined subgenres like “moombahcore” (harder, heavier) and “moombahsoul” (softer, sexier), and there’s no saying what direction moombahton will go next.