These Dominican Americans are throwing the best L.A. parties you don’t know about

Actress Leni Perez raises her glass on a crowded dance floor
Actress Leni Perez enjoying a drink on the dance floor at High Tide Bar in Los Angeles on June 18, 2023.
(Brian Contreras)
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While New York City and Miami are well known for their large and thriving Caribbean Latine communities, Caribbean Latines in L.A. make up only about 2% of the population. You’ll have a much harder time finding the culture and the people in Southern California, including fewer restaurants and social events.

But just because Caribbean Latines represent a small percentage of the L.A. population doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities for them to celebrate their culture and build community. Two Dominican Americans living in Los Angeles, one a chef and the other an actress, began hosting parties to bridge that gap.

Victor Ramos, known as Chef Vic, has made it his mission to focus on his two cultures, Puerto Rican and Dominican. Ramos said growing up in South L.A. as one of the only Caribbean Latine kids was a struggle. “I just didn’t have really anybody that related to me,” he said.

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He remembers being made fun of over his homemade school lunches: “Kids would just ask, ‘Hey, what is that?’” As he got older, he learned to embrace his culture and ended up enrolling in a culinary program. In 2016, he started his own catering business, cooking a mix of Puerto Rican and Dominican cuisine as a way to reclaim the identity he struggled with as a child.


During the pandemic, as restaurants were shutting down, Ramos put his catering menu on Instagram and fulfilled orders around town. Eventually, a friend alerted him that Cardi B was looking for a Dominican chef in L.A. The Dominican rapper discovered Ramos’ social media and her team contacted him. Cardi B and her husband, Offset, began ordering from Ramos’ Caribbean catering menu in the summer of 2020 and have remained consistent clients.

People on a crowded dance floor
Dembow artists Rick Starr and Fenix dancing at High Tide Bar in Los Angeles on June 18, 2023.
(Brian Contreras)

In the summer of 2021, Ramos and his cousin Massiel Muñoz threw a Caribbean-themed party at a nearby park, with music, domino games and his signature cultural dishes. The party’s popularity led to Ramos reaching out to the owner of the Friend, a bar in Franklin Hills. That’s when they started using the term Capicúa for their parties.

When playing dominoes in the Dominican Republic, a player will yell “Capicúa” as soon as they lock the game.

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Since then, Ramos has sold out almost every event. He’s looking for a larger space for the next party. “I feel really grateful to have a space where everybody comes, hangs out and networks.”

While Chef Vic was finding success with Capicúa, another local Caribbean event has gained popularity for its dembow beats and bachata throwbacks.

People hold up a Dominican flag at a party
Kassandra Lee and Luis Cruz holds up the Puerto Rican flag at High Tide Bar in Los Angeles on June 18, 2023.
(Brian Contreras)

Sasha Merci created her event, El Teteo, a Dominican-themed party in downtown L.A., because she missed being part of a Dominican community. “Every time I throw these parties, I feel rejuvenated. I feel better because I’m around people that are like me,” she said.

Merci, a Dominican American comedian and actress, moved to Los Angeles in 2018 from the Bronx to advance her career.

Merci is well known on social media and has 170,000 followers on Instagram. She most recently appeared in the movie “Righteous Thieves” and the series “Like, Share, Dimelo” alongside Dee Nasty in 2020. Her entrepreneurial spirit and love for her culture have led her to host events where she brings together DJs who are passionate about Caribbean music.

In 2019, Merci hosted her first party, called Dominican Hookie, at Blaq Haus NoHo, a Southern food restaurant and hookah bar. “I saw there was a need for Caribbean vibes here,” she said. Through that event, she met Chef Vic, as well as DJ Kiss & Mars, a duo who play Dominican and Caribbean beats.

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When the pandemic hit, Merci’s plans for more parties came to a halt until February 2022, when she decided to host a Dominican Independence Day event, and that’s when El Teteo was born. The name translates to a gathering in the Dominican Republic. “That’s what you say when you’re about to hang out with your friends,” said Merci. “El Teteo isn’t as much a place as it is a vibe.”


With a vision and a name, the event gained popularity, so much so that one of the most recent events had almost 1,000 attendees. “It’s been evolving in a way that I can’t even imagine,” said Merci. “Just having people from an investment standpoint believe in the brand. It went from people saying ‘I don’t believe you’ to ‘I believe you and let’s work together.’”

It’s clear there’s a desire for Caribbean culture in L.A., as more and more Caribbean Latines make their way to the West Coast. As artists like Bad Bunny and Romeo Santos have become more mainstream, there’s interest from other cultures. For Merci and Ramos, they want to see their events grow as big as Coachella.

A DJ spinning vinyl records
Resident Djs Be! and Giselle Peppers setting the vibes for Capicúa at High Tide Bar in Los Angeles on June 18, 2023.
(Brian Contreras)

Both want their parties to become large-scale festivals that will attract the masses while staying true to their roots. If they pull it off, it will break barriers not only culturally but racially as well, as most if not all major California festivals are owned by white American men. With 4.8 million Latines in Los Angeles, it would be a welcome change from the status quo.

Constanza Eliana Chinea is a culture journalist, producer and social justice activist living in L.A. She currently co-hosts and produces the video and audio podcast “Stranger Fruit,” a show tackling taboo topics with diverse cultural thinkers.