DJ Cila never feels confined to her booth at Lava Gina, New York City’s premier world music lounge, where her groovy spin has reinforced the reputation of the city that never sleeps by always rocking her crowd into a frenzy. “I play world music. If I have it, I am going to share it with my friends when they come into my house wherever I am spinning I want to make them feel comfortable,” assures the barefooted DJ, who never hesitates to kick off her shoes to join the crowd on the dance floor.
With world beats at her finger tips, she provides a blend of cultures--catering a mix repertoire to a crowd, which includes friends and people who have traveled from afar to see her gifted fingers dash over the turntables night after night. With heavy influences deriving from Hip-Hop, R & B, House, Funk, Samba, Haitian Kompa, Salsa, and Zouk genres, DJ Cila consistently takes her audience on a cultural journey. “I play what other DJs will not. I play what’s on your CD player. I bring all cultures together by playing music from different parts of the world,” says this native of Praia, Cape Verde, who proudly flaunts a barefoot image (Pé na tchon), which she says started in the nineties when she promoted Boston’s nightclub Piteku. “Some friends and I would get barefoot and dance. I then adopted the word and made it a part of me so to speak,” she further explains.
DJ Cila’s quest at Lava Gina began after a close friend introduced her to the owners. The interest was instantly reciprocated. She has since made it her permanent spot, as she travels from Boston to New York City every other Friday of the month, packed with her world tunes. “She is very popular, very outgoing, and has a great personality. She has a really good chemistry with everyone here and it's really good to have her,” says Chris Pollok, co-owner of Lava Gina World, which opened its doors in 2000.
Before becoming the toast of Lava Gina, she was an aspiring house music DJ whose love for turntables got the attention of a Boston’s club promoter. “He came out with this crazy idea of giving me a floor, since he saw that I had turntables at home and was also a club promoter at the time. He tried to convince me that I should come to the club and play music for my friends. Have it be a big old party,” she explains, referring to Evans aka DJ EE2EE4 of Club Virtigo. The idea seemed foreign to DJ Cila at the time, but one that would quickly allow her an entrance into Boston’s night scene, soon becoming permanent at the club while getting the invitation to spin at countless Ethiopian concerts throughout Massachusetts--an opportune time to learn about other cultures and also introduce her Capeverdean culture. “I have played at Ethiopian concerts where I’ve thrown on Capeverdean music where Ethiopians were gigging,” says DJ Cila, who has made guest appearances at Club Plato, Club Pure, Ultra Lounge, Club Brazil, Villa Victoria in Massachusetts and Sounds of Brazil (S.O.B.s) in New York City.
Being one of the few Capeverdean female DJs, she hopes to change the perception of this male-dominated business as she is often mistaken for a male disk jockey. Says DJ Cila: “The advantage is that I am a woman and the disadvantage is that I am a woman. Yes, it sounds funny but it’s the way it is. Truthfully, at first I don’t mind, I love seeing the reaction on people’s faces. Of course, I then start to think about ‘how can people be so closed minded’. Maybe they need to come out of their box and experience other things.”
As far back as “Cila” can remember music has always been part of her life and that’s why she is so keenly interested in music production. “I always wanted to make my own music. I would think ‘how can I loop this part of the song and maybe mix it with this other song.’ These were the ideas that I had in my head,” she explains. Though, she was a bit hesitant to communicate this passion to someone else, fearing that being a female could prevent her from becoming an engineer or a producer. She eventually she fulfilled her dream by attaining a degree in Recording Arts from Full Sail College in Florida. With a childhood dream still very much alive, DJ Cila does aspire to be amongst the female music producers in the near future.