A Night for Selena, A Night for Good Times

A world of Selena awaits at the 3rd Annual Selena Tribute. Photo Credit: Octavio Martinez

Sonido Clash brings back its celebration of Selena for a third time to Back Bar

Arturo Hilario

El Observador

If you weren’t able to make it to last year’s Selena Tribute Night thrown by Sonido Clash (SC), This is what you missed: Eclectic music, an energetic Selena impersonator, Selena look-a-like contest, great vendors and of course, the photo booth. “People love to get their photos taken,” says SC’s Fernando Julian Perez, and it’s so true.

As it stands, the San José based collective of musicians, videographers, artists and community collaborators throw some of the South Bay’s most infectiously fun parties, and although they continue to grow and are starting to branch into community activism and providing curriculum for community members, they still like seeing people just plain have fun.

In its third year, the annual Selena Tribute Night has gone through various tweaks in its two initial outings. Now, SC feels they’ve figured out a good recipe for this DIY festival celebrating the Latina Tejano Music Queen, Selena Quintanilla, whose seemingly timeless legacy lives on 22 years after her death.  

Fernando Julian Perez and Quynh-Mai Nguyen were around to be the voice of the collective this time around, reminiscing about their last few months, as well as the now and future.

Perez, and Nguyen both wear a ton of hats as is the SC do it yourself way of life. Nguyen is the resident artist, Perez the videographer, producer, and both are organizers, just to name a few of their duties. Both are committed as is the rest of the group, to bringing the unique Selena night to fans and putting on the best show they possibly can.


When asked about their experiences from year to year, there’s a lot of back and forth about how amazing it is to expand and the people that discover them through word of mouth. At the core of these to and fro’s is the idea of art and culture that unites many generations, and that in some way or another their historical experiences are shared. In the case of Selena Tribute Night 2016, Fernando remarks, “well, we weren’t expecting to have a line all the way down the street. And then to see that, people were even asking if there were any extra tickets or any opportunities to get in and that was something we wouldn’t of expected to have for the second one but it shows the need for events that are representing our icons and I think the things that we learn too, naturally. People pass the word on but we also have to find spaces where there aren’t.”

Another one of the differences that caught the group by surprise was just how much all walks of life love Selena. “There was a different generation that we saw, not the young 21 crowd, but people who were probably alive when Selena was, they showed up. That was a surprise and maybe this year because we have a different selection of artists maybe we’ll have other groups in San José that will come out”, says Perez.

The Selena Effect

The initial draw to the tribute night is the idea of being able to centralize one’s admiration for the music of the singer all night long. And it happens through artists playing their own interesting takes on her songs, as well as the aura of what she encapsulates through the night. Being there is what a ‘Selena vibe’ feels like.

Perez says, “basically, that’s why we selected these folks (artists) too, to give another representation of sounds, so it wouldn’t be just catered to the Latino community it also exposes people to the hip hop sounds, or electronic music future world sounds.”

Nguyen also feels that the connection through generations to Selena adds a hook to the party line. “I had my friend who teaches middle school, she has one student who loves Selena and when she heard that there was a Selena tribute, she was like ‘oh, I wish I could go!’ and my friend said ‘oh yeah, but it’s in a bar’. Just the fact that being able to tap into different generations with someone whose iconic like Selena, that speaks volumes. And knowing in the beginning with the first event, that was really any other Selena tributes but after the second, now third, we heard of so many popping up, which is really cool.”

Perez adds, “like recently there was a Selena cruise? People on a boat!”

Selena 3.0

This year the group hopes to get as many people that want to come into the door off the bat. With more space at the Back Bar they might not have to turn people away as they did last year. Perez says, “we had to turn people away and that sucked, but we have a fire code we have to obey. We want people to have it as another memory, definitely people that have never been to a Sonido Clash event. So hopefully they become supporters of Sonido Clash, because we will continue to bring artists.”

Nguyen says, that the opportunity for these events to help artists collaborate and show their talents is one of the greatest achievements in building these parties and networks and creating fans. “It’s not just strictly music, it’s like art incorporated in a venue where most people just come to dance to the music. But when you have vendors there, it’s showing that there’s that community support behind it. Sonido Clash, it’s a community, not just music but art. For me I hope that this just keeps going. It’s like a tradition.”

On the social media side, the fans are ready and the optimism is high. “Every year I see on the comments, “oh, we can’t miss out on this year, we gotta go” and tagging saying, “are we gonna go?”. It’s nice to see that, it’s nice to see the excitement. Because when the night  actually like happens and you see everybody dressed up, dressed in Selena costumes, it’s just fun”, says Nguyen.

The Future

Recently SC was invited to CSU Monterey Bay to speak to students about the merits and work behind being entrepreneurs. “What we were able to do is take our passions, and maintain our work, but give these young people the idea that they can also go forward and change the communities you live in, and go back to the communities you live in”, says Perez.

He also states that that experience in Monterey helped highlight the idea that they are moving forward, and beyond just he music scene. “We’re not just some party crew, not just some event, we’re doing presentations and innovating stuff, we’re working with nonprofits to present payday lending campaigns and beyond the music as well we’re trying to become leaders in the community to support other campaigns. So you might see us someday, not just in the club, but presenting to young high school students about the opportunities that they have.”

And until their next endeavor, this next SC event will be in a club. Nonetheless it will be a knowledgeable and good time focusing on the many elements that made Selena so loved; such as her music, her fashion, and her effortless sense of self. There will be dancing, there will be laughter and probably some tears when the right song hits. But it’s all good, anything for Selena(s).

More info at http://sonidoclash.com/. Selena Tribute Night takes place Saturday April 15th at Back Bar SoFa in San Jose CA. Show beings at 9pm. Sold out online, but tickets will be available at the door.