Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oh Mi Rockness

I love all kinds of rock; alternative, indie, garage, punk, you name it. And from all over the world; the language that is being sung is second.I just finished purchasing tickets for The Strokes concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Their third album First Impressions of Earth is hot. You can sense how good an artist is even if you don't understand the lyrics. It just all seems to come together ever so nicely.

In New York, we have our standard concert venues, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Jones Beach Concert, New Jersey arenas, etc . We also have the staple local lounges in different boroughs like La Kueva, La Oveja Negra, SOB's etc.
The hard to find gems are the Underground NYC concert venues that sprinkle in a few Latino acts in acknowledgement of the veracity and raw emotions of our artists. Some of these places are legendary. Famous artists performed the New York City underground circuits before selling out mega arenas like MSG.

I like to support Latino emerging artists/acts/bands when it counts the most. When selling a record is a win-lose situation, when your presence is visible among the not-so-filled-to-capacity room. When they are still underground, getting the word out, emerging.

I couldn't start to list a few of the most noted NYC Underground venues and not start with CBGB, an icon in the underground movement. It hosts some of our finest underground and emerging rock en español acts. The band Kultura Etilika played on 2/06. Check their calendar often for rock en español acts.

Next is Bowery Ballroom where the likes of Cafe Tacuba have played. Jose Gonzalez , a Swedish-born Argentinian will perform on 3/24. His debut album Veneer is in the top 10 charts in the UK and is a star in many other European countries. He has been compared to the Brazilian master of bossa nova João Gilberto and his song "Crosses" was featured on the hit TV show "The OC". Joe's Pub where Jose will also be playing among many other Latin talents and rising stars is a more elegant and intimate setting. Joe's Pub has only being around since 1998 and has seen the likes of Bebe Gilberto among other Latino international artists. This spring, Joe's Pub will host Las Rubias del Norte (a mix of French, American and Colombian musicians ) on 3/28, Marta Gomez de Cali, Colombia on 4/1 where she will release her new CD titled "Entre Cada Palabra" , two nights of Compañia Flamenca Juan Polvillo , from Sevilla, España on 5/10 and 5/11 and Peruvian Susana Baca on 5/18. Pistolera , a mexican "latin pop-folklore" band will perform at The Mercury lounge on 3/3. The list goes on and on, Knitting Factory, Webster Hall, Southpaw, Tonic, Warsaw, etc.

Oh My Rockness is my favorite NYC indie rock venue website. They have compiled an extensive roster of NYC concert venues. You are able to link to all the concert venues and find a comprehensive of all upcoming shows. Check it out once in a while to see where Latino bands/artists may be performing. Don't miss the chance to see up and coming artists in historic places, you may be witness of the next star being born. I did, I saw No Doubt (Gwen Stefani) before she was a mega star!

Rock on!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pacha NYC

While vacationing in Barcelona with my girlfriends three years ago, Pacha was one of our top priorities after Antoni Gaudi's architectural wonders and the Picasso Museum among others. Pacha, meaning "to live like a king", has been in existence since 1976 and has outposts in 25 cities, including Rio De Janeiro and Ibiza, where is one of the foremost dance venue. And finally Pacha has come to NYC. This past December 2005, the four floor megaclub opened in 26 degree weather and by 12:30 it was packed, noone else could get in and it was invitation-only. In comparison with Cielo which can hold 300 people, Pacha can accomodate 1,700 revelers. Jeez! Pacha NY is co-owned by the legendary DJ Erick Morillo (Latino!)and he DJ's twice a month. Expect to pay $30-$40 cover charge when he spins. On 4/7 Erick Morillo will celebrate his Bday with a 12-hour set at Pacha. Purchase the tickets for $30 in advance. Hope to see you there, I'll be celebrating a BDay too!

618 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

La Kueva en Queens

In the Sunnyside of Queens, you will find La Kueva. It hosts live Rock en espanol bands on Fridays and Saturdays. The owners pride themselves in calling la Kueva the "Legendary and Original Latin Rock bar in New York". If you could award the prize of "La casa del Rock en espanol en Nueva York" this venue couldn't come any closer. Their house band can rival a lot of the bands in NYC's respected underground clubs. And its not only Latinos who can get down at La Kueva, hear a gringuitos account of his experience at La Kueva in ShinyGun Magazine. Among the many international acts that have and will take the stage at La Kueva, this month a local band from Westchester, NY, Kultura Etilika will perform on 3/10. Kultura Etilika won the Univision "Estrellas al Despertar 2005" award. The three Peruvians and two Americans came together in 2004 to form the bad and since its been happy horizons. Catch them at La Kueva or other local venues before they explode!

39-31 Queens Blvd
Sunnyside, Queens

Friday, February 17, 2006

Premiere Fridays at Suba

Premiere Fridays at Suba with DJ's Alex C and Yorkdee. This and every Friday, experience upscale lounge experience with rock/pop en espanol. $20 minimum beverage and food per person.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Cielo is the club "where house music lives". Winner of the best club award for 2005 and nominated for best club of 2006 by Club World Awards, Cielo prides itself in becoming a mainstream in the NYC club scene. That is very hard to achieve in the ever changing, evolving club scene of New York city. Some of the worlds most discriminating club goers reside in New York City and to live up to that hype takes a lot of muster and staying power. Yet, Cielo may be on its way and with the help of their Wednesday night resident DJ Little Louie Vega. Born in the Bronx and of Puerto Rican descent, he was steeped in a rich musical environment; his father was a Latin Jazz saxophonist and his uncle the revered salsa singer Hector Lavoe. Must warn the door is selective, dress trendy, let them know you belong there and don't arrive past twelve to guarantee entrance.

18 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY


Crobar, rated the best superclub in Club World Awards for the year 2005, hosts the best DJ's of the world in NYC every weekend. Its nominated again this year for best superclub 2006.The Grammy award winner, Roger Sanchez, born in NY from Dominican parents happens to be one of Crobar's resident DJ's. Roger Sanchez exclaims that Crobar has one of the "best sound system ever encountered." Look for DJ's Erick Morillo, Colombian, David Morales, Richie Santana among other latinos to DJ at this legendary club. Crobar is immense but easily navigable among the throngs of partygoers. The lighting system is mesmerizing, you can't but help jumping along to the pulsating beats. You find it all here: the first-time clubbers, the clubheads, couples, eccentrics and the curious. The lines are long. I'd arrived there one hour before 12am deadline for the guest list and have not made it . The cover is usually $30. It is very popular, people come from Europe to take in some popular DJ's like Tiesto, the best DJ in the world as ranked by DJ Magazine. Dress as you like, just dress comfortable, avoid getting stepped on the dance floor ladies if you wear open toe sandals. Last summer they hosted Thursday Latin afterwork parties and from the huge success, it looks very likely that they will bring it back. I'll keep you posted!

530 West 28th Street
New York, NY

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kaña Tapas Bar & Restaurant

On every Friday and Saturday, you can count on Kaña to be filled to capacity. It's also not so big but this gives it warmth and personality. The brick walls, corridor-like dance area and dim lighting makes you feel like you threw a party in a secluded alley. The atmosphere is seductive and so are the partygoers! The owners hail from Spain making it a truly authentic Tapas bar. The tapas are served until about ten,and after turns into a full-fledged music-stomping lounge. The music is mostly Rock en espanol with one or two merengues thrown in. You can catch the soon-to-be rock hit song; the DJ's seem to be ahead of the hits and vice-versa have everyone singing along to the classics in rock latino. Sundays at Kaña are devoted to Salsa. Kaña is definitely a place that keeps you coming back.

324 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
Kaña tapas


One of the few uspcale latin lounges in New York City. Suba has been critically acclaimed in magazines from GQ to Latina. It is known for the culinary masterpieces of world renown chef Alex Ureña who hails from the Dominican Republic trained in New York, France and Spain. And lately it has been praised for its upscale soirees hosted late nights in its underground lounge. You can lounge about in the main floor at the bar, nibble on tapas until the underground grotto is transformed into a dance area. Be prepared to dish out $20 for access. Suba hosts Spanish wine and tapas tasting series. It also hosts dinner-and-a-movie nights on Mondays for a pre-fix price of $29. The full schedule is available at their website. The likes of La Ley's Beto Cuevas and many other celebrities are known to frequent Suba. You never know who may be sitting next to you!

109 Ludlow Street
New York, NY

Mamajuana Bar

You would expect to find Mamajuana Bar in Washington Heights, the most densely populated Dominican enclave in US ...No! Cross on over to Brooklyn for a taste of this potent alcoholic elixir and its namesake bar. Blending cultures and music in this up and coming borough, you find mostly non-latinos and latinos-in-the-know kicking it up to Latin music, R&B, hip hop, and jazz on some evenings. Its gotten press in the popular New York Magazine and Village Voice as one of the happening bars of 2006. Visit while its still nouveau and not so crowded. But I doubt it for long.. I'll be around soon drinking mamajuana!

220 Leonard St., Brooklyn, NY 11211
between Powers St. and Grand Ave.

Tantra Lounge

Think Middle East, hookahs and musica Latina! Tantra Lounge has managed to bring all these elements together in a classy setting in Astoria, Queens. When you enter the lounge, sari-like flowing fabric obstructs your view. In front of you lays the most eclectic room this side of the Red Sea. Middle eastern decorations, bar attendants wearing belly dancing hip scarfs, exquisite hookahs and Latinos getting down to rock en espanol, cumbia, salsa, merengue, bachata and hip hop. A one-man band pounds away on percussions to the beat of the music. The hookahs are $25 per round and include mixed fruit, apple and peach flavors.

We went on a Friday, 2/11/06, and staff lauded that Saturday is even better! As we celebrated my brother's bday word got around and staff was beyond welcoming, offering a round of shots courtesy of the house. The beautiful mostly Colombian crowd and the ambiance is electric. It all makes the trek out to Tantra worthwhile!

Tantra Lounge
35-50 31st
Astoria, Queens

D'Antigua Restaurant, Bar and Lounge

There is nothing antique about D'Antigua Restaurant, Bar and Lounge in Jackson Heights, Queens. Only around for a year plus it has set its foot down in Northern Blvd and looks like its here to stay. The nights are varied from hosting movies, poetry readings on Wednesdays to Latin rock bands on Fridays to Salsa and Merengue on Sundays. After a scrumptious meal stick around and dance the night away. The house cocktails are delicious and their house beer cocktail infusion, comes in two colors red and blue!

84-16 Northern Blvd
Jackson Heights, Queens

Life in Queens

For the past few years, Life in Astoria, Queens, has hosted one of the best Brazilian nights. Located in the heart of the second most populated enclave of Brazilians in the United States, Life lounge attracts the most die-hard music fans of Brazilian music. You occasionally hear a great Samba here and there but prepare yourself to be immersed in what is hot in Brazils' clubs. The now popular sounds of contemporary Brazilian music heard in top 40 radio stations resonate throughout the first floor of the lounge. Revelers sing in unison as the Portuguese rap, house, and dance music permeate the air. Reggaeton is center stage as well and it wont be long until you hear a Brazilian reggaeton!

As you ascend to the Sky Lounge, second floor, you travel through a time and space warp. The States top hits, including Daddy Yankees' reggaeton, 50-Cent's hip hop take center stage and you will witness Brazilians among a very mixed crowd getting down just the same. Overall, the ambiance is worldly and friendly and you walk away feeling you like just stepped out of a lounge in Ipanema.

30-07 Newton Avenue
Astoria, New York

Gallery at the Gershwin

Located inside the famous Gershwin Hotel is Gallery, a nouveau experience in lounging. It hosts an art gallery with murals, original art paintings and projections. On Wednesdays it hosts a a Latin night starting with after work specials from 5:00 to 6:30 pm, food from 6 to 8pm and ending late. The theme is Samba/Brazilian including Samba lessons. Must warn the door is selective at about 10 pm, you are guaranteed to get in the earlier you get there. The list of cocktails include The Gabriel Garcia Marquez (a 3 berry caipirinha), the Frida Kahlo ( a yummy strawberry mojito), and the Diego Rivera. Enjoy!

7 east 27th Street
New York, NY 10016

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Arka Lounge

In the 90's the big club scene was the "IN" thing. Copacabana on 54th Street, Latin Quarters on 96th Street, Casablanca in Queens, Flamingo's on 21st , Jimmy's and Sidestreets in the Bronx; each one with its distinct personality. Now we are hostages of a crop of lounge/bars that have taken over the Latino night life. To name a few: Arka, Ibiza ,Kana, La Kueva, Suba & Tantra Lounge.

Tonight, January 7, 2005, I am hitting the lounge scene with my boyfriend and his brother. There is a buzz surrounding Arka Lounge on Broadway and 192nd Street in Washington Heights (WaHi). Arka has been around since start of the millennium but the word is that it has gone through renovations and the music is just right, a blend of old school merengue, Spanish rock and pop, a little bit of salsa, reggaeton of course, and the American radio stations heavily rotated hip hop songs.

As we arrived finding parking proved painful. We decided to pay and park at a car wash lot right across from Arka $20 dollars for the night. This is a little steep for the neighborhood, but they got you...either pay or leave, finding street parking at midnight in this neighborhood is virtually nonexistent. The door was a very reasonable $10 dollars, so onward! Before we part the red sea (the entrance to the lounge is sectioned off by a deep red curtain) the security pat down search mission one goes through leaves you feeling a bit violated but more safe than sorry.

The decor is striking. Plush velvet sofas surround the walls on one side and a long wooden bar the other. The bar attendants, all ladies, seemed welcoming, none pretentious. As we worked our way towards the back to coat check I noticed the diversity amongst the crowd. Latinos come in all colors, shape and sizes and Arka had no problem drawing them all in. Although mostly Dominicans in a predominantly Dominican Neighborhood in the midst of gentrification, it housed an eclectic mix of revelers.

The DJ managed to keep the party goers dancing all night. The atmosphere rubs off on you and you can't help but bounce around to the beat and join in the fun. Although it got a bit crowded our little soiree at no time felt smothered or needed room to breathe. The drinks kept coming and we kept on dancing. The tab was a measly $70 for two guys and a gal and that included three Amaretto Sours, two Long Island Iced Teas, a Madras and a few beers!

To your left and on the opposite side of the bar on a slightly higher plane (about one or two steps higher) are window like partitions with a view to the "very special people". This is the famed new addition to Arka: a heavily guarded VIP area complete with loads of cushion. Now this is clearly the biggest advantage that the VIP section has over the main area. Going to the ladies room or perhaps if you're lucky the men's room is likened to your bathroom experience at a baseball park. The wait is excruciatingly long and at one stall/room at a time you can kiss dancing-to-the-nice-song-that-just-came-on goodbye. It doesn't help either that groups of lady friends go together to powder their noses. The extra chat time in the restroom just makes it even more maddening.

Restroom issues, notwithstanding, Arka has a secure place in the hearts of the WaHi residents and all who come to this happening lounge in Northern Manhattan.

Arka Lounge
4488 Broadway
New York, NY 10040
(212) 567-9425

P.S.Arka hosts different themes during the week from live local performers to weekday happy hour, call in advance before you take the hike.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Latinos & the City

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it unless it has all been suffering, nothing but suffering." Jane Austen, Persuasion.

You may wonder why quote Jane Austen why not quote a Famous Latino writer like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "This blog is about Latinos" you may say. Exactly! That's how eclectic we are as a people, as a culture. Our growth in America, and among other places New York City encompasses and embraces all our tastes and idiosyncracies.

You gotta love New York City. You love it, you hate it, then you love it again and you hate it again... but you just can't leave it. And even if you flock to the latest affordable home market or Florida, the memories and the stories will be the stuff of legends.

On any given night, you want to go out, and it seems that you've been THERE too many times but what else to do. Amazing... A city so big, with so many possibilities and it seems that I frequent the same places and see the same people, all making the same fashion statement.

Once in a while I venture out and try something new, slightly different. These are my Big Apple vignettes of what Latinos are doing right now. I must warn you most New York City venues go in and out of style in the blink of an eye, so catch them while they're hot!