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“De Washington D.C., DJ Obeyah! Trevor Martin! The Metaphysical!” harked a Panamanin radio ad this spring. For a month and a half this year—-during the country’s carnaval season—-the three D.C. DJs set up for a series of parties at backpacker joint Mondo Taitu in Bocas del Toro, on Panama’s Isla Colon. They returned, naturally, with some video. “I know no Spanish, so everything had to be translated, and when I got to Panama City on the big island, my hostel was overbooked, so the promoters had to arrange a seat on a tiny, 10-seater plane to get me there,” says Obeyah, aka Arlington native Reed Griffith. “There was a guy, Cosmo Carrig who was working with a hostel [Mondo Taitu], who were throwing parties at their appropriately named bar Casa Animale during carnaval who helped set everything up, and from there it was amazing.”
The parties were apparently pretty egalitarian, to hear Obeyah tell it. “There were nights, where, when we were finished at the club, we would go outside, and cumbia bands would set up stages in the middle of the street, and everyone, kids, families, tourists, even the chief of police would be celebrating,” he says. “It was just like D.C. is, spinning down there. You have a diverse crowd, with very diverse interests, and you’re trying to make the connections to please the entire room.”