003: Eric Garcia: Drag, Detour Dance, and Exploring Identity

This episode, Eric Garcia talks about his drag performances and keeping a gritty low budget drag show in a changing San Francisco. We discuss his performance company, Detour Dance and their evolving mission and maturing body of work. We also talk about his work for Sean Dorsey, an acclaimed dancer and head of Fresh Meat Productions, a company devoted to transgender and queer arts. Finally, we get into identity and how Eric is using dance to explore himself as a person of color and as a gay man.

If you liked this interview, I think you'll enjoy my interview with the Lindy Hop dancer, Ellen Huffman.

I talk to Ellen Huffman, a Lindy Hop dancer based in San Francisco. Every year she organizes a Lindy Hop and Jazz Workshop called Fog City Stomp where she invites experts, live bands, and DJs to come teach, perform, and judge competitions. She’s danced for many troupes and currently runs the Someday Sweethearts. We’ll get into the history of swing, some influential members of the community, and fashion!

You may also like my interview with software developer and community, Albrey Brown.

I talk to Albrey Brown, who is a programmer and community leader here in the Bay Area. He is currently working as an Enrollment and Diversity specialist at Hack Reactor which is a coding bootcamp based out of San Francisco. Albrey works at Hack Reactor and after noticing the lack of diversity in the Hack Reactor family, he pitched an idea to the founders. He founded his own branch of the school called Telegraph Academy that focuses on finding students from underreprestend minorities. 

SHOW NOTES:

  •  Recording of Eric at his drag show, Drag the Ho Down. [00:02:59]
  • Eric talking about nostalgia and about the idea of missing a city or culture that he was never a part of [00:04:33]
  • Eric talking about having a gay brother in the city and his mother supporting his drag [00:07:01]
  • Eric talks about his drag show at the Rite Spot [00:08:44]
  • Recording of drag performer, Pepto Bizmarquee starting with my narration [00:10:57]
  • We talk about Detour Dance, Eric’s Performance company [00:11:56]
  • We talk about their original mission statement: Reframing the Mundane. [00:13:51]
  • Recording of Eric’s show Filaments. A drag queen takes home a man she meets on a bus. Starting with my narration [00:15:16]
  • Continuation of Recording. Drag queen gets cum in her eye. [00:18:19]
  • Eric talks about how Filaments was a huge shift in his thinking and how the mission of Detour Dance changed from ‘reframing the mundane’ to ‘making art that matters’. [00:19:50]
  • Eric talking about how he has traumatically neglected the fact that he was gay and a person of color for a large part of his life. [00:20:40]
  • How Eric and Cat have changed the way they think about performance. [00:21:40]
  • Moving forward with relentless truth-telling. [00:22:26]
  • Putting on dance performances isn’t cheap. [00:23:40]
  • Recording of performance called Beckon where woman talks to a dish of food with exotifying, stereotypical language. Starting with my narration [00:24:15]
  • How the change in his company is being perceived by the company members. [00:29:03]
  • How Eric makes his company, Detour Dance a community by providing value to his performers. [00:29:33]
  • Eric talking about Fresh Meat Productions and how his involvement radically propelled his career forward. [00:36:11]
  • How community, the thing we are nostalgic for is happening all around us. [00:38:24]
  • His perspective, what informs him. Why he gives back. [00:39:40]
  • Eric talking about how hard he’s worked and how hard he’s worked to know himself and create a fulfilling lifestyle around performance. [00:39:12]

PEOPLE MENTIONED:

MY FAVORITE MOMENTS

“I’ve been in this topic, actually, of nostalgia, um, Nostalgia of San Francisco and being a young person and having moved to San Francisco in… hmm.. 2007, and being like, already have some feelings about how much it has changed. But really not knowing how much it really really has changed for my elders, or whoever has been living there longer than I have. And so, this idea of missing a city, missing a culture that I was never really apart of and so doing this event really make me feel, in this really tangible way, like this is like that thing that I love about San Francisco. It’s a free event, it’s fucking weird, like you’re walking down Folsom Street and you see a bunch of weirdos dressed in like horrid drag and making tons of people laugh and it’s like yea, it’s a sweet little gem. And we don’t like to advertise it much without.. minus facebook but we don’t get any news [laughs] and yea it’s like me struggling to hold on to something and being really nostalgic for this time that I wasn’t really apart of. ” [00:04:33]

“I have so many mixed feelings about Detour Dance. It’s like my baby that’s now entered teenage years. It’s like pimply and ugly to look at and I’m what the fuck did I start?! And now it’s like asking me for money and I’m like fuckkk I can’t pay for you. But I love the crap out of that company so hard. [laughs] and if feels like it’s really important and I just get rid of it. It’s too late. It’s grown up.” [00:12:06]

“I’m queer and I’m also brown and I’ve ignored those two parts of my very significantly and almost traumatically like my entire life and so maybe this could be a good time. And my collaborator cat is also brown and queer so we were both kind of like, let’s tap into this and see what gold we find and that led to some serious restructuring on how we create work.” [00:20:40]

“rather than it just being like… fluid weird abstracted music that meant so much to me but inviting 100s of people to come and be like “good job, Eric” wasn’t enough. God bless all the people who said I was good because I look back at those work and I think Holy Shit! that was horrible!” [00:21:21]

“I move forward with in terms of creating performance is this like relentless truth, truth telling, and like balls to the wall, really absurd experience. Its going to be really loud, not in terms of volume but just in terms of opinion. Our new mission statement for the company, I think it’s as simple as we create art that matters” [00:22:26]

“Putting on dance shows is not cheap. yea it’s a lot of money. you’re dropping at least 20,000 dollars. That’s like the smallest little. You have to pay for performers and rental space, and rehearsals and all this stuff just like adds up. So like to drop like 1000s and 1000s of dollars for just like ‘good job’ is just like. And not that I’m making are for that validation but it’s like I’m getting older and my bank account is getting smaller. [laughs] so it’s like, if I’m going to invest in a performance project it’s going to stir some shit for people.” [00:23:40]

“You’re not coming to sit there and droop in your seat. Like I want to give you something to chew on and get upset about. “
[00:27:57]

“This is just the story that you have never heard. This is my day to day story. This is your first time hearing this story. That doesn’t mean I’m anti white. It just means I’m brown.” [00:28:16]

“I do offer is a chance for them to each have, or be a stakeholder in the company so like that means creating movement…You know but like making them feel like we’re a little family and if they have to leave and they want to leave that’s cool and I support them and then there’s like, you know, love forever but I want to have a group of people I’m making continual work with. So with me giving them really intense things, they step up and they’re like, there’s a level of trust that I try not to take advantage of or try not to ignore. [00:29:48]

“and to talk about community, the people who show up for these events. you’re in this room and there’s like 3 or 400 people and you’re just like what? it’s just like buzzing and there’s so much love. I don’t know! It’s like back to that this is what San Francisco is, this is what I was really attracted to, this is that, like, thing that we all miss that thing we are all nostalgic about. It’s happening right now.” [00:38:24]

“how I go through the world and how I make art and what communities I choose to be apart of. And what communities I can say hey! not anymore! thank you. I don’t need that. It’s not fulfilling me anymore and what I found humorous or I found worthwhile in high school isn’t necessary the case anymore. It’s formed my politics. It’s formed my self care. it’s formed who I choose to engage with and who I choose to love. and um, who I choose to live with. It’s just like part of it now and I wouldn’t have it any other way, it feels like a much more informed lifestyle. A much more interesting lifestyle. yea, its being grateful for the privilege and opportunity to chew on it and then make art about it and have people be subject to that. ” [00:42:16]

Comment below with some of your favorite moments from the interview!

LINKS TO ERIC'S WORK

Churro Nomi

Tiny Dance Film Festival

Beckon

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Drag, Hoedowns, and Identity. A lot to chew on in this episode! Eric is so fun, hilarious, and talented. What did you think?

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