In the past year and a half, La Burbuja, the portable recording studio for KCRW’s Sonic Trace project, has been all over Los Angeles: Koreatown, South LA, Santa Monica and Long Beach. Sonic Trace Community Producer Brian de los Santos has taken over the task of getting this massive pod from place to place. La Burbuja will be at CARECEN in MacArthur Park until the end of next week. As he prepares for another big move back to La Burbuja’s storage space in Santa Monica, de los Santos reflects on his first experience with ‘The Bubble,” and what it taught him about community:


Jason Groman (L) and volunteer Joe Bowling roll the base of the bubble out of the truck.

Jason Groman (L) and volunteer Joe Bowling roll the base of the bubble out of the truck.

Everyone said it would be a nightmare.

It may be pretty, but it’s a hassle to deal with, I remember them warning me. And they were right.

Moving La Burbuja, our portable sound booth, is like deconstructing and constructing a 600-pound spaceship. And really, that’s the first impression many have.

Outside, your reflection shines in the chrome paint. Inside, the hot pink couch is inviting, yet nothing you would find at IKEA. Add that to its sphere-shaped walls, and you get a spaceship — or the bubble.

So, to set up La Burbuja, we had to bring extra hands. With the help of Jason Groman, our KCRW Jack-of-all-trades, and some courageous volunteers, we transported the sound booth from KCRW in Santa Monica to CARECEN in MacArthur Park in a 26-foot truck.

A New Home



MacArthur Park, just a few blocks away from the landing spot, was the epicenter of new Angeleno residents fleeing from civil wars in Central America during the late 1980s.

Since 1983, CARECEN has been home for war refugees and immigrants with different trajectories. The organization has developed deep roots in the local Salvadoran and Central American community, providing legal services and educational services. It’s also grown as a center that offers culture, dance and art classes.

And that’s why Sonic Trace reached out to the organization: to hear fresh narratives of Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans in the area. Why do you leave, why do you stay, both relevant questions for locals.

Onto The Next One

La Burbuja wedges laid out in the upstairs space.

La Burbuja wedges laid out in the upstairs space.

And get rolling, we packed the six Burbuja slices into the U-Haul truck and headed to the other side of L.A.

Each wedge floated up the stairs, held by the four of us. We huffed and puffed along the way, maneuvering to steer clear of hallway walls. (They are heavy, obtuse pieces.) We counted our fifth one. Then, the last one. And we were done.

We walked out of CARECEN like champions — right after a quick donut break, of course. But then this happened:


(Earlier I said people warned me about the hassle of wrangling La Burbuja.) Yep, this unexpected event was part of that warning.

The Lesson Of Community

burbumoveDescending from the CARECEN parking — which sits atop a small incline — the truck and pavement had a small quarrel and the pavement won. *Sigh. The truck got lodged into the ground.

To make things worse, it was blocking the one and only entrance and exit out of the CARECEN parking lot.

We tried almost every trick in the book: pushing the truck, applying wood under the tires to it shimmy out of place, introducing a jack under the vehicle to level it out. Things I can’t remember. Nada.

Minutes passed. Then hours.

Although every idea backfired and frustration was at its highest, I had to appreciate what I was seeing.

Onlookers quickly became part of our crew. Someone who was waiting in the CARECEN parking lot came out of his car to help us. A local mechanic brought out some tools and inspected the issue. The problem became a community effort.

And we didn’t give up. We had to find a solution.

We did.

A tow truck came to lift the stagnant vehicle. As the 26-foot truck was hauled away, spectators cheered. The moving “nightmare” was over.

La Burbuja in its new home at CARECEN.

La Burbuja in its new home at CARECEN.