Hot Latin Music and Dance on a Cool Spring Afternoon

"Volando Hacia Un Sue??o-Soaring Towards A DREAM" theme of UCLA's 11th Annual Festival Latino presented by LASA

By Ricky Ricardo
Published on LatinoLA: April 8, 2009

Hot Latin Music and Dance on a Cool Spring Afternoon

The Latin American Student Association of UCLA presented The 11th Annual Festival Latino with the theme "Volando Hacia Un Sueno-Soaring Towards A DREAM." The amazing annual event took place on Saturday, April 4 @ Wilson Plaza. The festival featured incredible live music, a variety of cultural musical and dance performances, games and arts and crafts.

A cool spring breeze saturated Wilson Plaza with various aromas of Latin cuisine as attendees arrived unto the UCLA campus. Venice Bakery served Cuban sandwiches, raspados and pastelitos; Yum Yum Hotdogs served hotdogs, pupusas, tacos,and agua frescas; TacoMiendo served tacos, burritos, tortas & agua frescas and Donde Chucho Colombian Food provided lechona, morcilla, chorizo, arepas, empanadas, carne asada, yuca, papas, aji, guacamole and sodas. It was a wise idea to partake of the delicious foods so that one can burn off the extra energy/pounds on the dance floor. It was difficult to keep still while listening to the plethora of infectious Latin sounds provided by the featured artist and the sound crew.

I missed seeing the opening act Grupo Folklorico performing dances from several regions of Mexico.

The show continued with Mainstream, a popular L.A.based band that took the crowd on a musical journey of music from the 1950's to the 1990's. The crowd was treated to the musical delights of Latin music, classic rock, R&B, and swing tunes. Only a handful of people in the crowd was old enough to remember the following tunes performed by Mainstream. "Oye Como Va," "I Feel So Lonely," "We Are Family," "La Bomba," "Black Magic Women," and "Ain't That America."

Hip-Hop artist Olmeca delighted the crowd with a set of original conscious hip-hop from his debut CD Semillas Rebeldes.

The all-female group Mariachi Divas has a busy schedule touring in support of their 2009 Grammy Award for Regional Mexican Album for the CD Canciones de Amor. The visually appealing group held the crowd in the palms of their hands as this talented, educated and classically trained group performed material from their previous CD's as well as a fifth CD to be released soon. The crowd were encouraged to sing along to ""Beseme Mucho," "Amor de Los Dos," "Sabor a Mi," "La Malaguena," "La Bomba," "and "Guantanamera,". They concluded their set with a medley of cumbias to get the crowd moving on the dance floor.

Festival headliner Chino Espinoza & The Swing del Callao (Salsa Orchestra) played two rousing sets of salsa music that kept the salseros on the dance floor throughout the early evening.

Continuous entertainment was provided in between musical acts. Various crowd pleasing dance performances were provided by Grupo Folklorico, LASA Ladies Hip-Hop Dance Troupe, LASA Salsa Dance Troupe, LASA Merengue Troupe, Brazilian Sambarinas & Capoeria, and Comparsa Fantasia Colombian Dance Troupe.

Three tents were set-up that featured posters of Latin American countries. The displays were very well showcased and very educational. The displays featured information about each Latin country-geography, people, language, history, culture, music, and politics.

This year marks the beginning of a new tradition as Festival Latino becomes a proud sponsor of the UCLA DREAM Scholarship. The DREAM Scholarship, founded on the campus in 2004, serves to financially support immigrant and refugee students who meet the qualifications of Assembly Bill 450, so that they may continue their studies and attain their degrees at UCLA. In accordance with this year's theme "Volando Hacia Un Sueno-(Soaring Towards A DREAM") and as a celebration of Latin cultures, a percentage of proceeds will be donated to the UCLA DREAMS Scholarship.

About Ricky Ricardo:
Free-lance photojournalist. I cover many events in the Latin community: jazz, blues and Brazilian communities.

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