Latin/o American Party: Latin Freestyle’s Transatlantic Touch

This talk—drawn from a larger project focused on the transatlantic exchanges between U.S. Latinx communities and British post-punk music cultures—examines the influence of Latin freestyle on the British electro-pop duo Pet Shop Boys’ sonic and visual aesthetics. With a particular focus on the track “Domino Dancing,” the talk turns to the commonly held belief that this first single from 1998’s album Introspective and its accompanying video were responsible—in its courtship of both a “Latin sound” and homoeroticism—for short-circuiting the band’s heretofore escalating commercial success. I insist, however, that the ability of “Domino Dancing” to fuse a freestyle resonance with unrequited queer desire served as a touchstone moment for Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe to flesh out their potential for moving in alternatively innovative directions. I underscore the tropicalist backbeat in order to explore the song’s intertextual significance, and to understand how the song allowed the duo to queer commercial interests and external artistic expectations, subsequently leading to their consideration of non-normative subjects and Latin/o American sonic traditions.

Richard T. Rodríguez
Associate Professor of Media & Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside, where he specializes in Latina/o literary and cultural studies, film and visual culture, and queer studies