Daly City is one of the closest suburbs in the outer borders of San Francisco, located directly to the South. It's home to one of the densest populations of Filipinos, anywhere outside of the Philippines, comprising 33% of the total population in a 2010 census.
From the late ’80s to the early 2000s, Daly City helped to raise some of the world's most famous DJs, and dance groups. It was a big part of the history here on the west coast for the Filipino and Hip-Hop communities.
Most of the Filipino youth here in Daly City and the Bay Area were made up of second-generation Americans. As the sons and daughters of first-generation immigrants, we were trying to find our footing, our voice, often overshadowed within the makeup of the rich, diverse culture found in San Francisco. The closest kinship we gravitated towards, at least in the people I know, identified with the Black and Latin-American music and culture of the time, weaving in our own rhythms and color palette, while forming our own community to bond us close together.
While much of this scene has somewhat been well documented, there's a cast of characters behind the scenes - around the turntables, on the dance floor, roaming the streets, soaking in the gravity of what seemed to just be a bunch of kids during that time just trying to find an identity.
This conversation scratches the surface of that scene, but puts us in the heart of it.
Kathlyn is my wife’s childhood friend. Kathlyn was born in the Bay Area and makes her living as a nurse. Her husband Tudor, is also a native of San Francisco. He manages a division of the Bay Area transit system and is a former amateur boxer. Together they are parents to two amazing girls, which you’ll hear in the background in the first part of this conversation.
We all grew up around each other throughout our teens, on parallel paths, orbiting in and around the same circles. So in a way, I can say that I’ve known these people for most of my life. In my youth, I’d see them around the same parties, which around Daly City was held in house garages, community church halls, and the several parks peppered throughout the city.
An interesting thing to mention, which gives a bit of context to some of the stories in this podcast. The way I came to know Tudor was through one of my good friend's older brother. I guess the best way to describe it would be like in the movie Dazed and Confused. In the movie, there were two groups of boys - Ben Affleck and the older ruffian kids. The older kids chased around the younger, innocent kids - eighth-graders making their way into high school. That was the age gap between us. We were the younger kids looking out for the older kids.
By no means were Tudor and his friends during that time known as bullies, but they were people you didn’t mess around with, or give any funny looks. They were to be respected, and in that regard, you get respect back, and there wouldn’t be any problems. So it was interesting at first when I found out that he and Kathlyn got together about 20 years ago. And throughout these years I’ve seen him, morph into a kind, caring, generous, respected human being, completely opposite of all the misconceptions I had of him and his friends as a youth.
We bounce through plenty of fun topics in this episode, dissecting the social compulsions of our youth, the art of the Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, and paint a vivid picture of what Daly City used to look like as a city in the 80s and 90s. Tudor also shares some fascinating stories about his life in the Bboy scene and what it takes to win in a breakdancing battle. We also get into the mobile DJ scene, and som of his experiences growing up around a gang.
So while many know the stories about the music and culture that came out of the era of the late 80s and 90s in Daly City, we are also a part of the stories within that story. And what’s offered here are just small vignettes of what a lot of Filipino youth of that era are beginning to reflect on and unpack.
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