A Critical Reader
Edited By Yolanda Medina and Ángeles Donoso Macaya
This book is an indispensable resource for scholars, researchers, educators, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as any individual, group, or organization interested in issues that affect Latinas/os in the United States in current times.
New York’s Latin Music Landmarks
Frank M. Figueroa
Soon after Hispanic musicians began to settle in New York at the end of World War I, the city became the capital of Latin music. Artists were drawn to the Big Apple by its recording and entertainment industries. Most of the new immigrants first lived near the port, in an area called Red Hook in Brooklyn. Later on, many of them moved to East Harlem, a section that eventually was called Spanish Harlem or “El Barrio.”
Landmarks in “El Barrio Hispano”
As would be expected, the first Latin music landmarks in New York were to be found in Spanish Harlem. The earliest locations were small music and record stores, social clubs, movie theaters and musician hangouts such as pool halls and cafes. These were indeed humble landmarks, but quite significant in the history of Latin music in New York City.
Hispanic musicians first found employment in New York City by providing music for small parties in private homes. It has been reported that, in 1920, Puerto Rican composer and musician Rafael Hernandez was perhaps the first to play Latin music in New York when he entertained at an apartment party in Spanish Harlem. These apartment parties provided an escape from the boredom of factory work for the “barrio people.” They were usually held on Saturday nights at the apartment of a family who provided room for dancing to the music of a small local group. There was...
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