Pablo Lucero knows where music and movement meet. To him, the people on the floor of a yoga studio and the ones on the dance floor of a club aren’t all that different. Both are there to move, to release tension, and to do it together as a group. These days, Lucero combines his love of music and DJ'ing with his work as a yoga teacher to create a unique — but fulfilling — career for himself.
Lucero started as a DJ in Miami 14 years ago. He played the soulful house made famous in New York by guys like Louie Vega and Kenny Dope. For Lucero and those other artists, house music was a dance ritual. It was a community, a church, and a chance to forget about the world. Their music was miles away from the VIP bottle-service atmosphere that we may associate with dance music today. It made for a natural transition to the world Lucero inhabits now. “When I spin, I love to know that at this precise moment all that exists is rhythm, cleansing our energies, purifying our souls, setting us free from all we thought existed," Lucero says.
So about five years ago, tired of playing the club scene, Lucero became a full-time yoga teacher. Now, he spends all of his time teaching yoga, DJ’ing at large-scale yoga festivals, and even collaborating with the Miami Symphony on occasion. I caught up with Lucero to ask him a few questions about how he spends his days and where he sees the connection between yoga and music.
New Times: Tell me about starting out as a DJ here in South Florida.
Pablo Lucero: I started DJ'ing in 2002, playing at Doraku Sushi Restaurant and Lounge, spinning different genres, rhythms, and tempos of music. I always had an appreciation for diverse world sounds, with musical ingredients of the Middle East, Africa, jazz, salsa, R&B, soul, Latin jazz, funk, and especially rare grooves. My intention was always to educate, uplift, and inspire through my music selection.
Why did you make the transition from DJ’ing mostly at clubs to yoga studios and yoga events?
DJ’ing for 13 years in the nightclub scene was taking a toll on my body, mind, and spirit. When I began my yoga teaching, I just didn’t care for the alcohol, cigarettes, and being around too many people at once. I realized I was over it and it didn’t serve my highest purpose. My passion for DJ'ing had evolved to teaching yoga, which I found to be very similar. When I started teaching, I began merging my worlds and love for music and sequencing my yoga sessions to amazing high-energy playlists that flowed with a theme. It was only a matter of time before I jumped on the decks to spin during a yoga class. The transition was a no-brainer. Plus, everyone that is here to do yoga is here for something deeper or something as simple as wanting to move the body and feel good in a clean environment. I dig this.
Can you tell me about some of the best large-scale yoga events you have been a part of?
I spun Sunset on Sunset with over 400 yogis moving to the rhythm and the bliss on the streets of Sunset Place. That was spectacular.
How do music and yoga fit together? We almost all listen to music when we work out. What is the connection there?
I use music as a sound-healing tool. See, in yoga we are guiding the humans to open the body, mind, and spirit. Therefore I am conscious and mindful as to what I expose the human to. Using music helps to create a story and taps into a universal frequency that is constant.
When I think of the current state of nightlife, it seems to me that people are simply not going out three or four nights a week these days. It seems like people are going out less and working out together more — that their social interactions are based around their workout more than it is around getting drunk together at the club. Is this something you have noticed?
Not really. Since I personally focus on my health and craft, I don’t notice what is happening in the club. However, I do notice what is happening in the yoga movement, and I can see very clearly that the conscious movement is growing and the community is expanding all over the world.
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During the class itself, do you play a lot of beat-driven dance music like you would in a normal DJ set, or do you have a different style you use for those classes?
I play a rhythm that I hear fit. To be honest, my best classes are those without electrical devices that generate music but rather organic instruments. The music can also be a big distraction, and we have to keep in mind that we are taking people in, not out. Beats, vocals, and melodies must be carefully selected to facilitate the proper experience. Again they can be used as a tool or a “cool” factor. I personally like to educate as I teach; therefore, I instruct a lot. I need complementing melodies and soft rhythms so there is no competition with my voice and I don’t have to yell over the music. However, I also enjoy teaching events where there are hundreds of people and we’re all rocking to a beat.
In a normal week, where can people find you?
Well to me, there is no such thing as "normal." I’m usually found where I am [laughs]. You can always find me at pabloluceroyoga.com, and my first studio will be opening in July or August. You can keep up with that at ommovementstudio.com.
Adam Foster is a South Florida-based DJ and producer, founder of twilightnotes.com, and entertainment director for the Restaurant People. He was named best DJ of 2014 by New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook.