El Cumbanchero Que Se Vá, 2015

Produced and presented at the Experience Music Project Museum (now Museum of Pop)'s 2015 Pop Conference:GET UR FREAK ON: MUSIC, WEIRDNESS, AND TRANSGRESSION

Córdova looks at the afterlives of Rafael Hernández Marín’s “El Cumbanchero,” first recorded in 1949, then as a Tito Puente staple, a salsa anthem for expatriated Puerto Ricans in NY (through Ismael Rivera) in the ‘70s, and later, as “Rockfort Rock” in Jamaica. After taking a detour to Italy, where italo-disco group Raggio De Luna interpolated portions of the song into their 1984 single “Comanchero,” Córdova circles back to Hernández Marín’s native Puerto Rico by way of Iris Chacón, a performer better known for her over-the-top”‘vedette” (showgirl) performances. In each of these performances, the song's transgressive potential is renegotiated, depending on who is embodying El Cumbanchero and his denial of identity and concomitant refusal to be tied down. Córdova points to a narrative in Caribbean music in which burlesquing otherness conceals a subversive message about the notion of “leaving.” This “leaving” doesn’t merely refer to the endless ebb and flow of diasporic life but to dance music’s ability to provide a sonic space where for the duration of a song one can shed one’s given and adopted identities.