¡Wepa! Dance the weekend away to Afro-Latino beats

July 10, 2019 Kelly Mena
Last year's Afro-Latino Festival. Photo by Mario Ruben Carrion
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Thousands will flock to Downtown Brooklyn this weekend to celebrate the rich culture and influence of Caribbean and Latinx culture and music in Brooklyn — and to dance late, late into the night.

The the seventh annual Afro-Latino Festival begins on Friday. This year’s theme is Reclaiming Spaces & Culture, a tribute to Brooklyn’s own Caribbean and Afro-Latino communities, according to a press release from the festival.

The borough is home to nearly 1 million immigrants, many of which hail from the Caribbean. According to the 2017 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, of foreign-born Brooklyn residents, 183,164 are Latin American, and 261,237 are non-Hispanic Caribbean (including 50,545 Haitians).

This is the third year the festival will be held exclusively in Brooklyn, according to festival spokesperson David Pastor.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“The Festival is an act of unity and diaspora solidarity by educating, affirming and celebrating community,” said festival Co-Director Amilcar Priestly in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle. “It reflects and celebrates the diversity of Brooklyn.”

Day 1: Friday, July 12

Last year's Afro-Latino Festival. Photo by Mario Ruben Carrion
Photo by Mario Ruben Carrion

Friday will open with a diaspora-themed day party at BKLYN Studios. The event will feature performances from top-level Haitian, Dominican and African DJs, including Haitian-American DJ Stakz.

Later in the day, you can join a tribute to famed Puerto Rican composer Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso. The celebration will be led by poet-activist Felipe Luciano, DJ Bobbito Garcia (a.k.a Kool Bob Love) and DJ Nina Vicious.

Alonso is known across the Latinx world for his contribution to salsa. He’s the composer of more than 2,000 songs, most notably “Las Caras Lindas” (Ismael Rivera), “La Cura” (Frankie Ruiz) and “Periodico de Ayer” (Héctor Lavoe).

Alonso is one of this year’s festival honorees, alongside Luciano, Los Beachers (celebrating their 51 anniversary) and Afro-Colombian journalist Edna Liliana.

Friday’s event schedule will finish up with performances from the all-female, Grammy-winning mariachi band La Flor de Toloache and the Latin alt-rock band Making Movies. Each band will play a line-up of songs from their new albums.

Day 2: Saturday, July 13

Last year's Afro-Latino Festival. Photo by Mario Ruben Carrion
Photo by Mario Ruben Carrion

The festival’s second day will kick off with performances at Albee Square Stage, starting with Latin Grammy winner Jose Alberto “El Canario” (The Canary). The Dominican singer is known as the “Showman of Salsa,” credited with the creation of the Salsa Romantica genre, according to Broadway World.

The day’s other featured artists include twin DJs Coco + Breezy and one of Panama’s musical treasures, the calypso band Los Beachers.

Saturday’s festival features include free live music and dancing in Albee Square Stage and a kid zone for families to enjoy.

Both nights, attendees can continue the party with late night DJ sets by Oscar Nñ of Papi Juice, DJ Buka, C. Devone, Ashley Venom of Space Tapes Miami and others at the festival’s Dekalb Stage.

For those who prefer speaking to music, both festival days will play host to the AfrolatinTalks Podcast Series, which will include a live-studio audience and touch on issues like identity and culture, content creation and the future of Afro-Latinxs in media, according to Pastor.

“Bringing together local and international activists and performers … has been instrumental in pushing a reinvigorated conversation about Afrolatinxs in recent years,” Priestly added.

Those looking for souvenirs can visit the “Shop Local” space, where 30 local and international artisans will make their goods available to the public.

This year’s festivities are being put on through a joint partnership of City Point and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will go toward Afrolatin@Project, Inc., the nonprofit that co-produces the annual festival.

For more info, click here.

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