When Martin Sauerman opened his Over the Border bar in Chula Vista about ten years ago, he figured he could make a lot of money if he brought in accordion-playing norteño bands.
"They drink a lot," he says of the fans who like regional Mexican dance music. "Those people spend more than anybody."
Nine years ago, Sauerman began hosting roc en español bands at his 375-person capacity bar.
"I knew I wouldn't become a millionaire [with that style of live music, but] back then the only other place that had Spanish rock was Café Sevilla, downtown. The Latin rock crowd is a good crowd; you get more fighting with hip-hop and norteño."
Among the performers who've appeared at Over the Border, Sauerman says, "Julieta Venegas played here three times before she won a Grammy and played Coachella. We also had El Tri and Juanes. Next month we have Auténticos Decadentes from Argentina."
Since Sauerman started booking roc bands, the Baja Club, Hacienda del Patron, and La Quinta Inn in Chula Vista and Caribe and Dolce in Bonita have followed suit. Sauerman says competition among the over-21 clubs for Latin rock fans has increased in the past three years.
"I have no problem with them," says Sauerman. "I think [competition] grows the market." He says he will let other clubs distribute flyers at Over the Border "if they ask first. I think if Olé Madrid has to put flyers out at my club in Chula Vista, that's an honor."
Sauerman says a sold-out Spreckels Theatre show by pop band Reik two weeks ago proves the popularity of Spanish pop is on the rise.
"RVD is playing the Sports Arena next month. There is a huge demand for a local all-age venue that would host up-and-coming Spanish pop bands like Reik, Lu, and Hotel. The only small venue that is doing it is House of Blues. They tried it at the Jumping Turtle [in San Marcos], but I don't think the Latin bands [from Tijuana] were happy there. It was too far for them. They tried it at Soma, but it bombed."
Why does he think roc en español bombed at Soma?
"They didn't advertise it right."
Soma owner Len Paul says hosting Latin shows "...is not something I necessarily want to get into." He says the teen Latin crowd shows up for his death metal and heavy metal shows. "The crowds there are 40 percent Hispanic."
Over the Border hosts live Latin rock on Friday and Saturday.