A celebration of personal identity and freedom of expression, the Afro-Latino Festival receives our precious city with open-arms.
The initial reception is welcoming, homely. People dance, sung, ate, took pictures. The single room was filled with people. Joyous faces. But the real excitement took place in the auditorium. Blessed with awards for very important members of the Afrolatino community and soulful music to compliment the gathering.
A genuine sense of pure enjoyment filled the air here. An event that simply celebrated being human. It was necessary; as merely days after a dual-tragedy shook the very foundation of black culture in the United States, that people come together with positivity in times of mourning. The weekend of July 8-10 was suitable for just such an occasion.
Friday’s version of the Afro-Latino 2016 festival was hosted by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in Harlem. However, within it’s barriers transpired a celebration of which knew no bounds. People were able to be themselves, and pay tribute to their heritage unbarred. Many adorned festive clothing catered specifically for the Afro-Latino union. It was lovely, weird and stylish. After an hour of casual meeting, we made our way to the theatre. There, we were met with hospitality and music. Suddenly, with rapid movement, the beneficiaries of the evening’s celebration arrived on-stage. The Awardees of the evening were: Danilo Parez, Moises Medrano, Aysha Schomburg and Dr. Arianna Curtis. All four recipients have made significant contributions to their respective communities, and were represented as such.
This issue of the Afro-Latino Festival also featured performances from a plethora of artists and musicians. After the award observance, we were treated to a live recital composed of: Afrodisiaco and Proyección Folclorico, among others.
On Friday evening, there were two more venues taken for more Afro-Latino excitement. This part of the festivities, located in other parts of the city, had their own pleasurable affairs. These events included several musical numbers from Colombian-based band El Caribefunk and Brazilian Carioca Bass / Baile Funk performer Zuzuka Poderosa – both of whom premiered at the Afro-Latino festival after-parties in Manhattan’s SOB’s and Brooklyn’s C’mon Everybody venues respectfully.
The weekend editions of the festival took place at the Restoration Bedford Stuyvesant Plaza, in Brooklyn. With people exercising their customs and cultural traditions; of which involved Henna stands, vendors, African & Latino clothing lines on full display for watchful onlookers, potential buyers – and more. It was a mesh of the colorful, the exciting, the eventful. With participants exercising their rights to freedom of expression. The park’s center-stage was composed fully of dozens – following the beat of the DJ while the African dancers on-stage moved with grace to their hearts content.