*Westchester, CA – Look no further, Los Angeles has to be considered in the conversation as the epicenter for Salsa on the West coast. Case in point, Memorial Day Weekend a Global community of salseros will descend into Los Angeles for the annual Los Angeles Salsa Congress. Alma Del Barrio 88.9FM is the granddaddy of salsa programming on the radio.
Alma Del Barrio celebrated its 43rd anniversary with the community of Salseros, “La Familia” as one of the DJ’s affectionately refers to everyone. It felt like a huuuuge family reunion on the beautiful campus of Loyola Marymount University Lawton Plaza. Attendees/Salseros are all inter-connected to the vibrant Global salsa community.
The 2nd Annual Alma Del Barrio Salsa Festival was held on Sunday, May 22nd, from 11:00am-600pm. The Gods of Salsa/Salseros looked down favorably upon this event. The weather was picture perfect with a slight Tropical breeze.
A crowd estimated at 2,000 plus came together for a fun-filled day geared for the entire family. Salsa dancing will never go out of style, as evident by young kids along with those young at heart (ageless) dancers showcasing their unique dance styles throughout the plaza. The dance floor was in continuous use throughout the afternoon with various DJ’s from Alma Del Barrio providing the musical soundtrack for a captivated crowd.
The grass area, stage right featured a traditional Cuban Rueda, think Line Dancing with Mucho Sabor.
The festival got underway with a quick Salsa Dance Lesson provided by popular dance instructor, choreographer, Judge, Coach and Performer, Laura Canellias. Ms. Canellias is also the creator of Cardio Salsa workout and DVD. The dance lesson was put in motion immediately once the musical entertainment portion of the program got underway.
Alma Del Barrio’s DJ’s Jose Cristobal and Nelson Rodriguez welcomed the multi-cultural salsa community to Loyola Marymount University Lawton Plaza for the 2nd Annual Alma Del Barrio’s Salsa Festival. I’m sure that LMU Administrators who were in attendance had to be pleased with the vibrant salsa community in attendance at the festival, as well as the tremendous importance that KXLU’s Alma Del Barrio has with “La Familia.” Additional DJ’s in attendance were Rosalva Lara, Lily Regalado, Javier Reyes, DJ Carlos and Alma Del Barrio Royalty Alan Geik and Enrique “Kiki” Soto one of the co-founders of Alma Del Barrio with Raul Villa (Rest in Peace).
Lawton Plaza has nearly reached capacity as a result of the 2,000 plus people in attendance at this year’s festival. Eventually, a larger venue will be needed to accommodate the growing popularity of this premiere event/festival for Loyola Marymount University, KXLU and Alma Del Barrio.
Now back to your regularly scheduled program. The live musical entertainment consisted of four incredibly talented Los Angeles based bands.
The festival kicked off with Changui Majadero. They thrilled the crowd with some classic tunes “Me la Llevo al Megaton,” “Quarto de Tula,” “La Rumba Esta Buena,” “Guararey,” “Tumba Bongo,” “Con Las Pailas,” “Son de la Loma,” and “Changui Po Ayotzinapa.”
The tempo picked up more steam with Boogaloo Assassins. They are known to re-interpret old school Latin sounds that propels salsa dancers to hit the dance floor. Dancers crowded unto and around the large dance floor throughout their set on the tunes “Me Jeva,” “A Las Seis,” “Diablo,” “Para Mi,” “I Wish You Love Part 2,” “Bomba,” “Be My Baby,” “Manteca,” “No Te Vuelvo Querer,” “Que Se Sepa” and a spiced up arrangement of a classic reggae tune “No, No, No.” Check out the original version on YouTube by Dawn Penn “You Don’t Love Me” (No, No, No).
Luis “Guicho” Vasquez, Guicho Y La Tribu has quickly made a name for itself in the City of Angels. It is a welcome addition to the thriving salsa orchestra’s playing around Greater Los Angeles. They revved up the crowd with a trademark style of music reminiscent of salsa dura sounds of New York back in the day, mixed thoroughly with modern salsa arrangements. “Monono,” “Huracan,” and “Juan Pachanga” were a few of the outstanding tunes they performed to the delight of the crowd.
Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca took us back to the roots of Afro-Cuban music. Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca sound consists of a gumbo of Afro-Cuban rhythms with Pan-African styles such as Congo rumba, soukous, Angolan semba and Kizomba. These were the right ingredients that inspired the salseros to let loose and dance exuberantly as the band closed out another tremendously successful salsa festival.
Alma Del Barrio is broadcast every Saturday and Sunday, from 6:00am-6:00pm on KXLU 88.9FM. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter etc. Consider making a contribution during Pledge Drives. The 2nd Annual Alma Del Barrio Salsa Festival is proof of the wonderful connections the program has to the local salsa community and the Global community at large, thanks to the internet.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]