Founded in 2007, Las Bomberas de la Bahia are the Bay Area's only all-women ensemble to perform bomba, a music and dance style that originated from African slaves who worked Puerto Rico's sugarcane plantations. Traditionally, bomba drums are played by men, while women sing and dance, but in Las Bomberas, the nine members handle all the duties. The music often employs call and response between the seated drummers and the standing vocalists, while one dancer commands the stage, her movements quickening to the music's crescendo. Audience members cheer at the flirtations between dancer and drummers, join in on the songs' repetitive lyrics, and may even be invited to thrust shoulders and hips alongside the Bomberas. A collective of activists, educators, and artists, Las Bomberas perform at La Peña, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, in the streets of the Mission, and at Women's Day celebrations — keeping bomba alive in the Bay.
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