What's The Word?: El Potrero is back on the hip-hop scene

El Potrero had gang outreach programs too

By Josh Rizeberg on March 13, 2013

Hip-hop is in full swing in Tacoma. There are often shows at The New Frontier Lounge, The Loch's, Jazzbones, El Potrero, Latitude 84, Backstage Bar & Grill, Vinum and O'Malley's. I'm sure I'm missing a couple other spots. I feel as if hip-hop has finally broken through in Tacoma. There seems to be an abundance of hip-hop shows across a diverse group of venues. I'm hoping the genre will gain the respect other music genres generate in Tacoma.

Speaking of El Potrero, this spot is back. The owners of the California Club have packed it up and moved their operation to Potrero. The spot is literally across the street from the Salishan at 44th and Portland Avenue. It has a mom and pop nightclub feel to it - except maybe the stripper pole - with billiards, a spacious bar, plenty of room and a very nice stage, perfect for hip-hop shows and mariachi bands.

Before California Club, before El Perron, there was El Potrero, a hotbed for hip-hoppers, heads, and G'z three years ago. It was not unusual to see different artists, different hoods, sets and sides of the city all meet-up at Potrero for a show. Potrero went above and beyond to reach out to the streets. One summer the venue turned its parking lot into an all-day, outdoor networking festival featuring local artists and musicians in booths selling clothes, music, and arts and crafts.

El Potrero had gang outreach programs too. Remember the "red and blue make green party"? Most venues would shy away from inviting gang members to come, build, and perform, but not El Potrero. Violence never erupted. Instead, many alliances, friendships and music connections were made.

Even though Potrero had no violence, the police oftentimes did harass the venue and put pressure on them to end its hip-hop shows. Why would this be? Is it possible the TPD doesn't want to witness the power of a collective, united, community full of creative hip-hop artists and leaders? Would they no longer be able to divide and conquer us?