Latin American culture dances through downtown LA


Celebrating Culture—Rocio Mendoza smiles through her performance as she feels the music of Tres Souls.

By Maria Marroquin Monroy

The 4th annual Boleros De Noche event was held on April 5 at the Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Downtown Los Angeles.

Despite the chilliness of the night, the venue was full of young people accompanying their parents to enjoy the music. Couples swayed to the music of Margarita Luna, the headliner of the event.

After performing a few songs Luna realized many people were walking in with blankets and said, “It’s cold tonight isn’t it? You know? Sometimes people fall asleep on my shows and I feel flattered. Because if we think about it, where does a child fall asleep? In the safety of their mother’s arms, right? So, if that’s the feeling I can give people, I am happy.”

Other performances include Martha Gonzalez, member of the band Quetzal, and her son, Sandino. They performed a duo to celebrate his 14th birthday.

Founder of Boleros De Noche Roberto Carlos launched the concert series in 2015. He said his motivation came from the heart in an effort to uplift and celebrate Latin American bolero culture in Los Angeles.

“To me it’s my life. It’s culture. It’s family and it’s my dad. Trio romantico music, you know? I wanted to preserve this genre, to celebrate it with Los Angeles,” Carlos said.

Carlos said he aims to make this an all-ages event because he wants every generation to celebrate, embrace and enjoy their culture.

For the past four years, Carlos has dedicated his time to grow this event and he said he hopes to make it to the Hollywood Bowl.

Carlos also said they didn’t have sponsors for the first three years, but this year they reached out to partners to help fund the event.

This year’s sponsors are Madre restaurant, Quetzal Boutique and Niños del Cielo Inc.

Ivan Vasquez, owner of Madre restaurant, said this music and this event made him feel like he was back in Oaxaca city in Mexico because of the ambience and the memories it triggered.

“More than a business partner, I consider him my friend, and just like my dream came true to have my mezcaleria and restaurant, I would like to see his dream come true, which is happening,” Vasquez said. “When he asked me to be a partner, I was happy and I will help him in any way I can.”

In addition to putting together several events throughout the years, Carlos, along with with Rocio Mendoza and Jesus Martinez, formed a trio called Tres Souls.

One of the performances that gathered the most people on the dancefloor was “Sabor a Mi” by Tres Souls.

The trio sing and perform classic bolero songs as well as add their own little touch of inspiration without compromising the integrity of the genre.

“I am a requintista (a person who plays the requinto) so I try to keep the integrity to what it is to be a requintista, but still added my own style and taking influences from different artist,” Martinez said.

Martinez is also a former East Los Angeles College student.  He said he took choir and piano lessons at ELAC in 2015.

His inspiration for this genre came from his father who was also a musician.

He said he loves boleros because they’re romantic and intricate. He now plays the instrument that was originally used by his father.

Amaury Reducindo, better known as Ketzal, from Quetzal Boutique, has been a vendor at this event for years.

Carlos has always been supportive of him, so when he was asked to be a sponsor, he was thrilled to be able to give back and support Carlos.

“In my childhood I acquired a taste for boleros and when Roberto asked me to be a part of this I was really excited. I think as an art community, we can come together and support each other rather than struggling,” said Reducindo.

Edward Padilla, the host of the event, said events like these are important to the community because they are part of who we are as a culture.

He said that being born in Mexico but growing up in the U.S. made him unaware that he knew the Bolero music

“I didn’t know that these songs were part of my memory bank. I saw the albums laying around the house, but I never connected the dots.

“So when I was asked to direct a play several years ago at Casa 0101, I didn’t know the music, but then I started listening to it and I realized these songs played in the background all throughout my childhood,” Padilla said.

Padilla said he’s reminded of a time in his life when the music played in the background while his mother cleaned.

“You know this country divides us in a lot of ways. People say Mexico, Central America, Puerto Rico right? But Boleros and the music of Los Panchos, who really made this music famous in a lot of ways. They were diverse themselves. So the music transcends our individual geography,” Padilla said. “It is sort of a common language to all of us and that’s the beauty of it.”

Xitlalic Guijosa from Tarjetitas con Amor, a vendor at the event and also a former ELAC student, said these events are important for the community because it’s a way to expose other people to the Latino culture.

“It’s important to have inclusion, to be in touch with our roots and to diversify the field. I always say ‘If you feel there’s a need for it do it yourself’ and this is what this event and other events like these are about,” Guijosa said.

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