As a kid growing up in San Francisco, DJ and Bay Area radio personality Chuy Gomez would often call radio stations to request songs for his mother, finding joy in the act of (indirectly) queuing up music for others. “I was initially just a radio fan,” Gomez says. “Then I saw a DJ at a house party and told my friends, ‘We should do that.’”
By the age of 16, Gomez and his pals were spinning records at garage parties, birthdays, and quinceañeras throughout the Bay Area, playing everything from ‘80s pop to traditional Mexican LPs from his parents’ collection. It was at one of these parties that Gomez caught the eye (and ear) of a DJ from local radio station KSOL — he offered Gomez an internship, which eventually led to a job as an on-air host.
Gomez has spent the better part of three decades hosting radio shows and playing music on various Bay Area stations, but he still finds time to get behind the decks in-person. He’s the resident DJ for Major League Soccer team the San Jose Earthquakes and the organizer of various music-themed cruises on the Bay, where Gomez and his NorCal DJs crew play sets devoted to ‘80s freestyle tracks or classic oldies from the likes of Mary Wells and The Stylistics.
Back when he had just started organizing his own events, a friend told Gomez about Eventbrite, which has become his preferred tool for building an audience and promoting his latest parties. “I started using Eventbrite to sell tickets initially,” Gomez explains. “And then after I did a couple of parties I had a built-in mailing list of folks who bought tickets to a previous event.”
Whether he’s playing music on-air or in-person, Gomez finds inspiration in his own Latin heritage and through the creations of others in his diverse community. “The Bay Area is such a melting pot. I’m Mexican, but we have Nicaraguans, we have Salvadorians, we have Cubans, we have Puerto Ricans.” Gomez says. “All of that Latin American music can be incorporated into your set, making it appealing to more people.”
That diversity is reflected in the eclectic playlist that Gomez created for Eventbrite in honor of Latinx Heritage Month — also known as Hispanic Heritage Month — in which he decided to “embrace all Latin [artists], anything that has helped shape and mold me.” Contemporary anthems from the likes of Bad Bunny (“Tití Me Preguntó”) and Shakira (“Clandestino”) stand alongside Los Ángeles Azules’ classic cumbia hit “Cómo Te Voy a Olvidar” and West African singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo’s Latin-inspired track “Congoleo.” As Gomez puts it, this collection of tunes is all about “good vibes and good feelings.”
Befitting a person who has made a career out of sharing music with others, Gomez doesn’t let details like genre or geographical boundaries dictate the songs that he decides to showcase — whether he’s DJing on the radio or atop a boat. “Music was always meant to be for everyone. Even if a Puerto Rican or a Mexican artist made a track, if you’re from Wisconsin and you feel it, you feel it.”