A Disappointing Evening

Expectation turns to disgust at pathetically organized concert

By Dena Burroughs
Published on LatinoLA: November 12, 2002

A Disappointing Evening

You know that there are some events that make us get all excited. Particularly you girls will understand me. There is that occasional concert, or dance event, that makes us go out and buy a new dress, matching earrings, a coat, a purse, new make-up, you know, the works. And when we work that hard at getting ?prettied up? for the occasion, we also brew huge expectations for the evening.

That was the case for me last Friday. I am a HUGE Salsa fan. There was no way in the world that Willie Colon would play in Los Angeles, and that I wasn?t going to be there to see him. Willie Colon is one of the original ?Salseros?. He?s up there with Celia Cruz and Ruben Blades. Ticket prices to his concert were outrageous, but I was going to go nonetheless. Luckily, my friend Jose, one of the DJs at the ?Alma del Barrio? radio station (88.9 FM by the way), was on the guest list and took me along with him. The $45 that would have been my ticket money went into covering all those other ?necessary? girlish expenses of getting ready to attend a concert.

I conned my friend Sue to come along with us. She and her boyfriend Jorge bought the tickets (yes, $100 worth!) and we all got there on time, 7:30 p.m., decked out and ready to enjoy.

I had never been to The Grove of Anaheim, not even when it was called The Sun Theater. I had wondered whether it would be set up as a theater and whether we would have to dance on the hallways (as I had to do at The Greek the last time I saw Willie perform). To my relief, The Grove is a very nice place, with plenty of tables, comfortable seating, and a large dance floor that had been placed close to the stage. Things were looking up!

An unknown-to-us, and according to the promoter, ?nervous? DJ started playing salsa and merengue, and slowly but surely we warmed up to his music. After a few good dances with some of my friends, and with my latest drink of choice (a gimlet) in hand, I was in the best of moods, and in heightened expectation of Willie? show.

But it got to be 9:30 p.m., and then 10:30 p.m., and we were still dancing to ?DJ-I?m-Nervous'" music.

Fortunately, right about that time the ?boys? from ?La Makina de Puerto Rico? came on stage and appeased us. Let me say this much?WOW! Merengue never looked so good! So they sang, and they moved, and they shook and they did their thing and entertained us well. (One of those guys is gorgeous by the way! And I have a picture to prove it ?hehe- ).

An hour later La Makina? set was over. We welcomed the break as time to rest, listen to salsa rather than merengue, find another gimlet, and get ready because for sure Willie was next. Except that midnight arrived and Willie was nowhere to be seen, and when we saw movement on the stage again, it turned out to be ?La Makina? coming out for a second set.

That became another full hour of merengue, which took us to 1a.m! If you are wondering why we hadn?t left by now, I guess the only reason was that we had already invested five hours. Trust me, when you have invested five, you don?t think another one will hurt much more.

Willie came on stage exactly at 1:20 a.m. At this point, I had had it! And Willie wasn?t making a happy face either. And how could he when, for starters, he came out to say hello into a microphone that did not work, which had to be immediately exchanged by a sound person who of course could not hide Willie?s gesturing eyes rolling back on his head.

Willie appeared to do the best he could, and the majority of the public tried as well. He sang ?Idilio? at 1:40 a.m., ?Gitana? at 1:50 a.m., and we left in the middle of that one. By that time, we had been at The Grove for six and a half hours. We were all exhausted, and I was disgusted.

This was the most pathetically organized concert I have been to in a while. There was no explanation whatsoever to the audience as to the reasons for the delays. Instead, at one point Mr. Candelo, the event?s promoter, had the arrogance to get on stage, top hat and all, to demand respect. I?m assuming he found criticism disrespectful.

I think plenty of respect was shown to Mr. Candelo every time people pulled $45 dollars out of their pocket and put them into his. Once that transaction was done, Mr. Candelo was expected to produce what he promised. Since his work was mediocre, Mr. Candelo should not have expected anything other than criticism.

My huge expectations for the evening turned into a big disappointment. Granted, the night was not all bad. I was in good company, had some great dances, and have an awesome picture as keepsake. But I went to see Willie Colon, and by the time he came out, I was not only basically asleep, but feeling guilty over making my friends pay so much money for nothing, and angry that I didn?t save my new clothes for the San Francisco Salsa congress instead.

I feel sorry for those that were passing out flyers throughout this event. I would think any association with this evening would be rather non-complimentary.

My consolation is that the weekend is almost here again. I am going to San Francisco to attend its first Salsa congress. On Saturday I will see ?El Canario? de Puerto Rico, another fantastic Salsero! Albert Torres is promoting it, and he is the best at it.

This time I know the show for sure will go on!

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