Celebrating a day of culture and community through salsa, people from all over Los Angeles joined together on LMU’s Hannon Field to enjoy radio station KXLU’s own Alma del Barrio’s Salsa Fest on last Sunday. Now in its fourth year, Salsa Fest entertained audience members with live performances from the groups The Echo Park Project, Charangoa, Rumbankete, La Verdad, and Eyedentity. Each band performed from the heart, bringing the complex sounds of the Caribbean to LMU.
As I walked around, I watched the live bands entertain dancing couples as they moved to the rhythm of the musicians under the heat of the sun. Showing off their skills on the crowded dance floor, the couples weaved in and around each other performing for audience members sitting around the stage. On the outskirts of the lawn, couples created their own dance floor as they danced in unison on the sidewalk, lost in their own enjoyment of the music. Families made a day of listening to the live performances as they relaxed in the comfort of their lawn chairs and the shade of their tents. The many families in attendance covered the lawn, making the grass almost disappear under their blankets. The large crowd was ready for a whole day of salsa music and food.
Throughout the day, I found myself easily immersed in the happenings of the event — the gathering of people celebrating a beautiful culture on a warm summer day. The magic of music worked to create a day of relaxation and calm spirits, creating a harmonious environment among the many people in attendance. The most excitement occurred on the dance floor as those dancing brought an energy all around the festival, enticing the bands to interact with the crowd through their beats and rhythms. Like the many others enjoying the music from their spots on the field, I especially enjoyed watching those dancing as their love for the music became evident in their impassioned movements with one another.
In addition to being a celebration of music, Hannon Field also became the center of food and shopping as food trucks of all kinds set up alongside the road in preparation for the local community. Independent sellers offered community members handmade crafts, clothing, and art, natural remedies, beauty supplies and booths to explore Cuban culture and heritage. The items being sold were vibrant in color, pattern and design — for both the clothing and works of art. I had a great time exploring the various booths and meeting the sellers.
The friendly smiles and warm hellos, coupled with the live instruments, created a welcoming atmosphere that is familiar to the LMU community. Alma del Barrio’s Salsa Fest was successful in bringing everyone together for a day of music, food, and community, and I cannot wait to see and hear the fest’s lineup for next year! In the meantime, if you are interested, you can check out KXLU’s popular radio show “Alma del Barrio,” airing from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, 88.9 FM.