Arts and music thrive in Santa Ana


Christina Diaz

Murals in DTSA bring visual artistry to our city.

Christina Diaz, Staff writer

If you’ve ever stepped foot in downtown Santa Ana, you know it’s not hard to see the shift between downtown and the rest of the city- from the colorful murals right in your face to the hidden gems, there are several contributing factors to the beautiful and unique subculture of Downtown Santa Ana.

Though there are several things that make Downtown Santa Ana so fun and unique, and they all have one thing in common: Art. Along almost every wall is a mural, whether it’s outdoors or indoors. Most of this art includes Latino culture, a very popular theme in this highly Latino populated area. This culture is embedded in the art with paintings of certain city landmarks like the water tower and important people like our local street vendors. This part of the city is the most obvious part of this special little subculture of downtown Santa Ana. The best part is that a lot of the art is constantly changing, bringing in fresh ideas regularly. So, if you see something you like, you’d better get there as soon as possible to soak it in. 

 The most telling reason for all this art and the constant changes is that there is a monthly art show that goes on called the Art Walk. It occurs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the first Saturday of every month since its debut. Admission is free and there are hundreds of things to enjoy. 

Each month, they invite several local artists to display their art, musicians/dancers to perform, and vendors to sell their unique clothing, food or whatever else they may have. Movie showings, comedy and other types of performances are welcomed, too. Even Middle College’s very own dance team has performed here along with other high schools in the district. Although this only happens once a month, their work stains the area, leaving a touch of their art wherever they go. It is these artists and vendors who create the artsy environment and subculture of downtown Santa Ana that is the perfect blend between classic and hipster.

Because they appreciate art, downtown Santa Ana does not limit its genres when it comes to musical guests. The bands perform current hits, classic hits, rock, r&b, oldies, and even original pieces. Included in this are all the wonderful DJs that play downtown Santa Ana’s clubs and events. One DJ group, Funk Freaks, has especially contributed to the musical subculture of the area through their unique sound of a mix of classic and rare funk music. The group plays nothing but funk, on nothing but vinyl records. The founders, Ivan Marquez and David Diaz, are locals themselves having grown up in Santa Ana. The group consists of 11 DJs who have built a fanbase and amassed over 50 thousand followers on Instagram alone. There are people who show up to events just to hear them play. “Listening to funk music was frowned upon,” said Diaz about what was acceptable in Santa Ana prior to Funk Freaks. 

“It’s crazy how times have changed and how it’s so accepted to listen to funk music and dress a certain way. It’s kind of cool being a part of that whole culture change in Santa Ana,” Diaz said.

 The group has brought out the funk fanatics looking for that unique sound and rare songs that take them back to their childhoods. You can read more about the group here. This is a major staple in the underground subculture of Santa Ana, being that they have gotten so many people to join in on the fun. Not only this, but a certain style comes with it. People like the Funk Freaks keep the Chicano culture alive. When people go to these events, they don’t all sport your regular trendy clothing. You will catch people with Nike Cortez’s, Charlie Brown shirts and slicked back hair- things that were considered to be “cholo” outfits and looked down on are now cool in that scene of people. They also wear pieces from local brands like Suavecito, Gunther’s, Funk Freaks, and all the other vendors/brands. 

LA Times columnist and Santa Ana resident Gustavo Arellano wears a “Funk Freaks” t-shirt that he recently shared on his Instagram account. Although not every single person participates in the Arts opportunities in DTSA or frequents the area, one thing is for sure- it is a huge part of our community and its reputation.