Out & About

The Music of Cimafunk

The Music of Cimafunk

By Claudia Vallejo

Click aqui para español- >La Música de Cimafunk

Things in life must be taken slowly.” That’s what the first line of one of Cimafunk’s songs would translate to, a statement quite the opposite to the rapid rise of the musical career of this Cuban artist. He dances on stage with tremendous “tumbao”, spinning from side to side and moving his arms rhythmically. It seems he’s reminiscing the past with his flare pants, open-chested gold shirt and big sunglasses; yet his music is very much about the present, the people, the party, and even about a broth of beans or “El Potaje,” a Cuban staple that his most recent production is named after.


Billboard Magazine named Cimafunk one of 2019 Top Ten Best New Latin Artists. His career began less than two years ago, and he’s already debuted at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin and at the SummerStage Festival in New York’s Central Park. He has sold out concerts in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and several other cities throughout the United States, in Latin America and Europe. His name has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Miami Herald and numerous media outlets.


Cimafunk visited New Orleans for the second time to play at the music venue Tipitina’s.  A surprise performance took place during a press conference where local bands Tank and the Bangas and The Soul Rebels played along Cimafunk and ten music students from the Trombone Shorty Academy. The impromptu performance was a tease of an encounter between the artists that will take place during the Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba next January.

Viva Nola Magazine spoke to Cimafunk about the cultural ties between these two cities, about his album “El Potaje,” and about his dazzling career.

VIVA NOLA: There is a very special connection between New Orleans and Cuba...

Cimafunk: Totally! There is a very strong musical and cultural relationship. Overall, the music of both places is very spiritual, deep, and very much of the town’s folk, which connects us and it’s nice to be able to feed of each other.

In other articles, the press has named you “a bridge between Cuba and the United States.” Isn’t that a big responsibility?

I’m not really the bridge. There are many people who have been collaborating for some time between the two countries and bringing musicians from both places. There are people who are very committed to that mission and it’s because of them that I’m here. I’m just doing my part within my time doing what I love, bringing my music everywhere.

What is the real meaning behind the title of your single “El Potaje”?

You add water to a pot, add some chili, pepper, seasoning, and throw in some food: sweet potatoes, malanga, pumpkin... a piece of chicken.  You pressure cook it and once it is well done, you get El Potaje. It’s an analogy to those who took part in making the song.

In “El Potaje” you bring together great artists such as Omara Portuondo, Pancho Amat, La Orquesta Aragón and Chucho Valdés. It’s like grouping the old avant-garde with the modern...

But it is the most up-to-date avant-garde we have right now in the Cuban entertainment industry. We live by recycling what they invented. We are feeding off of them. It’s not the same thing writing a song that I’m going to sing on my own, than writing a song that Omara or Aragon will sing.  You have to think it through because their dialogue is very different; you have to think about the advice they would give you. It’s like the advice I’ve received from my mother and my grandmother who are from their same generations and who possess the same wisdom about life. [Collaborating with them] was a beautiful experience. It was a constant learning process. Getting Omara to the studio to record in an instant. Chucho, was also amazing; he recorded his piano solo in thirty seconds. Pancho Amat gave a master class in the studio. The Aragon, all the arrangements, they were key.

Cimafunk singing with Alejandro Sanz at Madison Square Garden; Cimafunk singing with Fito Paez, how were those experiences?

Those are magical experiences in life. And this whole year has been full of gifts. Fito started it all. He gave us such a boost when we were just getting started. With Alejandro, it was something very casual. He liked the project, he liked our music, and he asked us, “do you want to close with me at Madison Square Garden and then open two concerts in the Miami arena?”. We were super excited; we got to learn and enjoy a lot. After all, when you get to do those things, you realize that everything is going well, and you must thank life.

The name Cimafunk gives recognition to the Maroons (rebel slaves who escaped in search of freedom). Is that an analogy to the type of music you play?

In the end music explains the way you live, and who you are. Regarding the cimarrones, they were very important characters in the Afro-Cuban movement because they were living outside the barracks, they had escaped to live in the mountains, and they were creating a new culture, playing something different. They were slaves from different regions who mingled to live with a common enemy and with a culture of their own. That’s a fundamental of the Afro-Cuban culture because they were creating freedom. For me, Funk is very similar. Funk was a process of developing an expression and a detachment from things, it was a way of expressing what we like with a groove. With funk, I can express the things that fill my soul, so, in that sense, the two parts, the genres that influence my music are very similar.


Cimafunk is a phenomenon, but Erik Alejandro Iglesias Rodríguez, the former medical student from Pinar del Río, is a simple, quiet pinareño, who, like the guajiros in the provinces of Cuba, talks with leisure and goes without haste... “That fame thing, I still don’t focus too much on that. It makes me waste my time.”

Dia del los muertos Festival

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) to celebrate annual Dia de los Muertos Festival


NEW ORLEANS (October 25, 2019)— The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and its Hispanic Young Professionals Committee  will proudly present its Día de los Muertos Festival at the New Orleans Baby Cakes Stadium on Sunday, November 3rd,  from Noon to 6:00 pm. Hispanic integration has become essential to the economic and cultural vitality of our area. The Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life that originated in central and southern Mexico and dates back 3,000 years. The free festival will celebrate this cultural tradition and attract the local community to enjoy local food, music, kids’ activities, shopping from local vendors and much more.

The Lineup

The event will have an afternoon filled with top entertainment and family friendly activities for all ages. Talent includes jams to the tunes of DJ Emotion, the contagious rhythms of La Tran-K Band, modern dances by Ritmeaux Krewe and Viva mi Tierra Folklore, las rancheras with young prodigy Madison Guzman, interactive entertainment from Krewe de Mayahuel. Our featured closing act will be in charge of Big Easy Award for Best Female Entertainer, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Future Famer, Offbeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat and Louisiana’s fiddler, Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys.

The Food

Enjoy a gastronomic experience that will satisfy diverse and adventurous palates; including a variety of vendors such as Chilangos Seafood, Don Cruz Roasted Corn, La Cocina de Jose Antonio, La Michera Grill, Lucky Dogs, Los Jefes Grill, Sully’s Mangos, Lilly’s Pupuseria, and Lillie’s Cajun Kitchen.

Our Children’s Corner will be filled with art and crafts, face painting, spacewalk and free snacks including ice cream and snowball courtesy of CRC Global Solutions; popcorn and cotton candy courtesy of Bounce World.

Other activities will include an attractive marketplace with unique finds such as jewelry, pottery, art and more. Don’t forget to bring your Ofrenda, and honor your loved one at our authentic Altar. Lastly, dress to your best Dia de los Muertos attire and participate in our Costume Contest open to all. We will be awarding first, second and third in children’s and adult categories.

About the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana

The HCCL is a non-profit organization with a mission to foster the continued economic growth, development, and promotion of Hispanic businesses and their associations in the state of Louisiana.

Gretna Heritage Fest: Latino Village 2019

Viernes 9/27/2019







10:00pm ORO SOLIDO


Sabado 9/28/2019



12:30pm ROLO 37

1:15pm MUEVELO











Domingo 9/29/2019




1:15pm JULIO & CESAR






Direccion del evento 327 Huey P Long Ave, Gretna, LA 70053



New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2019

Thursday 4/25/2019

Rumba Buena

Acura Stage 11:20 AM - 12:20 PM


Papo y Son Madao

Jazz & Heritage Stage 4:50 PM - 5:45 PM


Dr. Nativo of Guatemala

Cultural Exchange Pavilion World Journey 3:20 PM -4:20 PM
             Jazz & Heritage Stage 6:05 PM - 6:55 PM


Friday 4/26/2019

Santiman and Garifuna Generation 

Cultural Exchange Pavilion World Journey 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM 


John Lawrence & Ven Pa’ Ca Flamenco Ensemble 

Lagniappe Stage 12:35 PM - 1:30 PM


Javier Gutierrez & VIVAZ! 

Cultural Exchange Pavilion World Journey 1:45 PM - 2:35 PM

Jazz & Heritage Stage 5:45 PM - 6:45 PM



Acura Stage 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Saturday 4/27/2019

Septeto Santiaguero of Cuba TBD


Javier Olondo and AsheSon

Cultural Exchange Pavillion World Journey 11:30 AM -12:20 PM

Jazz & Heritage Stage 3:35 PM- 4:25 PM


La Tran-K Band

LagniappeStage 5:40 PM - 6:30 PM 


Sunday April 28

J Balvin

Gentilly Stage 5:45 PM - 7:00 PM 


Thursday May 2

Julio y Cesar

Lagniappe Stage 2:15 PM - 3:20 PM 


Friday May 3

Grupo Sensación NOLA

Congo Square Stage 11:15 AM - 12:00 PM


The Iguanas

Acura Stage 11:20 AM - 12:20 PM


Patrice Fisher & Arpa

Lagniappe Stage 12:40 PM - 1:30 PM


Los Lobos

Blues Tent 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM


Saturday May 4

Tribu Baharu 

Cultural Exchange Pavillion 12:40 PM - 1:40 PM

Jazz Heritage Stage 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM


Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez

WWOZ Jazz Tent 4:20 PM - 5:10 PM



Congo Square 5:40 PM - 7:00 PM


Sunday May 5

Mariachi Jalisco

Folklife Stage in Louisiana Folklife Village 1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Jazz & Heritage Stage 3:40 PM - 4:30 PM


Alexey Marti & Urban Minds

WWOZ Jazz Tent 1:30 PM - 2:20 PM


Tribu Baharu

Jazz & Heritage Stage 2:25 PM - 3:20 PM

Cultural Exchange Pavillion 4:40 PM - 5:45 PM


Treces del Sur

Lagniappe Stage 1:55 PM - 2:45 PM



More info click here ->JAZZFEST

Workforce Development Series at the New Orleans Public Library

Workforce Development Series at the New Orleans Public Library.

By AnaMaria Bech

Click aqui para español- >Serie de Desarrollo Laboral en la Biblioteca Pública de Nueva Orleans

Despite the technological advances that for decades have threatened the demise of books and print, the importance of the library as an educational, recreational and community resource very much remains.

Beyond hosting books on various topics and offering a litany of information free of charge to the public, libraries hold an essential place in society.

The New Orleans Public Library has been working hard to become a relevant community resource that offers a variety of interesting programs for individuals of all ages. These efforts complement their vision of becoming catalysts of change in a growing, connected, and vibrant city.

Transforming lives, enriching neighborhoods, and preserving history continues to be the mission of the New Orleans Public Library, a system that has 15 locations throughout the city. In its varied agenda, one can find writing workshops, computer courses, story time, creative seminars, homework clubs, crafts sessions, and language conversation groups, among many other activities.

During each year’s first semester, the New Orleans Public Library offers its "Workforce Development Series": a free series with valuable resources for people in different stages of life who are looking for work or new work horizons.

The series is designed and directed by Jessica Rareshide, a Certified Personnel Consultant, and a credentialed Certified Staffing Professional. Ms. Rareshide has worked with various nationally recognized organizations.

Carlette Dennis of the Algiers Library believes that since its inception, the Workforce Development Series continues to be highly rewarding for both Rareshide and the New Orleans Public Library, and for the community. Ms. Dennis raves about how Ms. Rareshide presents her workshops and goes above and beyond to help attendees, stating that "[Ms. Rareshide] has valuable business knowledge and she handles development issues very well. Her knowledge is vast and remains valid."

In creating this series, Rareshide considered the needs of people at different stages of life and included topics for those looking to change careers, those who have been out of the workforce and who want to return after a long hiatus, and even for those trying to cope with retirement. For entrepreneurs, Rareshide created "Corporation of One", a popular workshop where she emphasizes the need to create and maintain a personal brand.

April Martin, the Adult Programs leader at the main branch of the New Orleans Public Library adds, “the workshops address soft skills such as interviewing and confidence techniques along with more traditional job readiness training like resume building” in describing the successful Workforce Development Series where library patrons obtain the tools they need to present themselves to potential employers as prepared and qualified candidates.

The New Orleans Public Library invites New Orleans residents to visit their venues and discover all the programs offered throughout the city and to take advantage of the vast knowledge and expertise of Jessica Rareshide during the Workforce Development Series workshops.

Samuel J. Green Charter School

Samuel J. Green Charter School

Click aqui para español- >Samuel J. Green Charter School

Known as the “Jewel of Freret,” Samuel J. Green Charter School opened in 2005 as part of FirstLine Schools. Serving grades Pre-K - 8th, Green is working to provide more seats for children from all New Orleans backgrounds to learn together.

The mission of Samuel J. Green Charter School is to prepare 100% of students for college, careers, and a successful life. With a rigorous and creative curriculum, Green focuses on providing a strategic use of blended and personalized learning. This dedication to the individual needs of each student is why Green was recently recognized by the state as a top performer both in the city and statewide, with an “A” rating for student growth.

In addition to the academic curriculum, students at Green benefit from hands-on learning experiences daily through FirstLine’s nationally renowned gardening and culinary program, Edible Schoolyard New Orleans.

For more information, visit FirstLineSchools.org/Samuel-J-Green-Charter-School, call 504-304-3532 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Carnival Exchange Program

The Carnival Exchange Program

By Angela Hernandez

Click aqui para español- >Proyecto de intecambio Carnaval

When it comes to Mardi Gras, local dance group Dile Que Nola, likes to celebrate it “a lo Cubano.” For the past three years, the rueda de casino group has worked to bridge the gap between New Orleans and Cuba through The Carnival Exchange Project.

According to Dile Que Nola’s Executive Director Nicole Goldin, the Carnival Exchange Project was created to celebrate and educate the community on Cuban culture. The five-day festival is not only geared towards education through dance but also as a means of cultural exchange between Cubans and New Orleanians. At the end of the festival, attendees parade on Mardi Gras day as one krewe during the Zulu parade.

"The project was an idea of my friend Abril Baloney. She has a company called Diaspora Travel Experiences and she has been hosting intercultural exchanges with Cuba,” said Goldin. Baloney’s idea for the first year was to bring a school from Cuba that would teach the Cuban folkloric dances. In return, New Orleanians would travel to Cuba to share their culture.

Although The Carnival Exchange Project’s inaugural year was a success, the festival hit a snag in its second year due to immigration sanctions. This made it difficult to bring one of the Cuban instructors. Sponsors also backed out, causing a financial strain, but the initiative continues.

Now in its third year, Goldin is hoping to bring instructors from Cuba if they can find sponsorships, and she encourages business owners, organization leaders and individuals to consider one of their different sponsorship levels to make the exchange with Cuba happen. The Carnival Exchange Project is a 501(c)(3) organization and the sponsorships are tax deductible.

If she can’t secure sponsorships, Goldin is determined to continue with the project and her alternative plan is to bring in Cuban nationals who reside in the United States or neighboring countries. “Regardless, we are going to bring Cuban talent, but ideally we would to give people from Cuba an opportunity to leave the island and share their traditions and dance skills with us,” said Goldin.

During the festival, attendees can expect several dance workshops and dance socials with the unique opportunity to truly get to know and teach one another. Instructors have been carefully selected not just because of their dance level but also for their ability to foster a sense of community.

There will be a daily beginners’ track for attendees who have never taken a dance class before. In preparation for the parade's choreography, Goldin plans on releasing the video tutorials in mid-December for those who are coming from out of state. Locals will be able to join in the practices in town at a location to be determined.

Those who would like to participate in the Carnival Exchange Project can buy their passes on their website at thecarnivalexchangeproject.com. Passes range from a $20 party pass to a $200 full experience pass.

You can find sponsorship information on the website and contact Nicole Goldin, by emailing her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2018 Azúcar Ball Press Release

2018 Azúcar Ball Press Release

The New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation (“NOHHF”) will host its annual fundraiser, theAzúcar Ball on Saturday, December 1, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hotel, located at 601 Loyola Avenue, in downtown New Orleans.  The theme for this year is Una Vez en Nueva Orleans (Once Upon a Time in New Orleans).Presented by Pan-American Life Insurance Group, the 2018 Azúcar Ball will start with a Patron Party at 7 p.m. followed by the Ball at 8 p.m., featuring the food from the best local restaurants, great Latin music and a silent auction of wonderful items.

Proceeds from the event provide scholarships to high-achieving high school Hispanic students in our community, who have demonstrated – through their academic record – the desire and ability to excel. Since the work and expense of this NOHHF fundraiser is put together by volunteers, almost every penny that is contributed (after the cost of the event) goes to scholarships for these outstanding young adults.

The NOHHF is a non-profit community organization that was founded in 1989 to cultivate and promote the Hispanic heritage of New Orleans and the Southern region. The Foundation provides talented Hispanic high school students with scholarships at some of the best private and parochial local schools participating in the NOHHF Scholarships Program.  The Foundation also grants one-year college scholarships to outstanding seniors from our local public high schools. Throughout the years, the NOHHF has awarded over 800 scholarships to high school students from our area.

President of the NOHHF Board of Directors is Ileana Suquet. Chairs of the 2018 Azúcar Ball Committee are Gracia-María Zaccaro and Rossana Bracho.  This year’s Gálvez Cup award will be presented to The Brennan Family.

Tickets and Sponsorships are available at www.501auctions.com/azucarball

For more information,  call 504-636-0107 or visit www.nohhf.org  

See attachment below.






Click aqui para español- >Día de Acción de Gracias

When it comes to celebrating holidays, there are many that translate well as they are universal holidays. And then, there are some that we adopt and make our own. Growing up in the United States I never realized that holidays such as Thanksgiving don’t exist in my parents’ countries. And yet my parents and grandparents came to this country and embraced this holiday for what it represents: The act of giving thanks and family.

For me, Thanksgiving means driving 5 hours to Houston to visit with my tios y primos. It means “estrenar” a new outfit even if all you are doing is chasing after your baby cousins or sitting in the living room chatting with your aunts. It’s the smell of pernil that’s been cooking for hours and trying to steal a spoonful of arroz con gandules when nobody is watching. Or finally, hearing my tio announce that the food is ready, but making sure that first we give thanks to God for all the good He has done for us.

And I can’t forget my second favorite part of the night, after eating, of course…we take pictures! Taking pictures can last over an hour as we make sure to take every group photo possible. First, the Hernandez and then the Posas, the Aranzazu and the Valladares. Now all the first cousins and now the new generation. It can be annoying, but at the same time my Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

Local TV personality and DJ Felipe Estrada never celebrated Thanksgiving before moving to the United States. In fact, the first time he celebrated the holiday was while visiting family in Orlando, Florida when he was 15 years-old. Although the holiday was strange to him, he remembers trying sweet potato pie for the first time and really liking it. “At first I didn’t get it, but the following year I ended up understanding the whole concept,” said Estrada. Since his first Thanksgiving, Estrada’s family continues to celebrate the holiday as a fusion of his two cultures, stating that at his table there is always a turkey and the Honduran stape, sopa de caracol (conch soup).

EatenPathNola’s Nicole Caridad Ralston had a different experience while growing up in South Florida with her Cuban family. From a very young age, Ralston loved to help her mother in the kitchen. “Our menu was very different. We always had a turkey, but we also had congri, yuca, platano, so it was a mix,” said Ralston. Even now the food blogger loves to cook and volunteers to prepare the turkey in a mojo, whether she is spending time with her family in Florida or with her husband’s family.

It also never occurred to me how my Thanksgiving experience differed from that of my non-Latino friends. I recently had a non-Latino friend tell me that she thought it was so odd how we dress so fancy or how we eat so late. Another friend told me that he was shocked because his family tends to be distant, but he was surprised at how his Latino friend’s family made him feel right at home. I couldn’t help but laugh at how true some of these observations are and how strange my Thanksgiving traditions might seem.

While Thanksgiving might not be a universal holiday and our traditions vary from person to person, one thing is for sure: Thanksgiving has a universal message, one that everyone can relate to regardless of the cultural barrier. As humans, sometimes we can get so wrapped-up in our daily lives that we forget to be grateful. In some ways I think this holiday is necessary to slow down for at least one day to recount the good things in our life…and if it comes with a side of pernil and arroz con gandules, why not?

Redefining Office Space

Redefining Office Space

By AnaMaría Bech

Click aqui para español->Redefiniendo la Oficina

The co-working movement surfaced in San Francisco in 2005 as an idea to combine the independence of freelancing with the community and structure of an office space. These co-working spaces emerged to offer flexible alternatives while helping foster a professional community for entrepreneurs seeking something beyond a café or the isolation of working from home.

The Shop is a comprehensive co-working development at the Contemporary Arts Center and it is designed to provide valuable business/cultural programming and services to tenants in addition to the features, amenities, membership packages, and benefits that form the cornerstones of a successful co-working space. “Many people enjoy having the flexibility to work by their own rules and vary their work environments, but what’s often missing from that is a sense of community,” says Pam Meyer, Community Director at The Shop at the CAC. “Current members regularly tell us that they’re more productive when they’re working around and able to connect with other creative, goal-oriented members."

According to one ResearchGate report, people who belong to co-working spaces report levels of thriving at an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. Research conducted by organizational psychologist Craig Knight concludes that “empowered offices” -- in which workers can choose their conditions -- can increase productivity on cognitive tasks by 25 percent or more. One of the top benefits that people identify in terms of value is the focus on having a community that provides networking opportunities, which in turn helps them grow their business.

Numerous members at The Shop have acquired new accounts, clients, financing, and more, due to their time spent working in the space. The need for a progressive workspace like this in New Orleans helped The Domain Companies drive the development of The Shop, which provides innovative design and competitive amenities like onsite car and bike parking; secure, 24/7 keyless access through a mobile app; a full kitchen with coffee and beer on draft; member events; local and company-focused discounts; and more.

For Matt Schwartz, Principal of The Domain Companies, this alternative works “extremely well” for New Orleans, adding that the main goal for The Shop was “to give locals and visitors a place to congregate, share ideas, and in turn, foster a creative, entrepreneurial community. New Orleans is open to that. It’s a creative city with a ton of opportunity, already full of great ideas that we can build on.”

The Shop is an innovative workspace. Located in the heart of the historic Contemporary Arts Center, The Shop features over 40,000 sf of award-winning, art-filled space curated to highlight local artists and designers, featuring both temporary and permanent installations; seven conference rooms equipped with the latest technology; private phone booths; and more. One of the more unique aspects of The Shop is the local, creative focus on the artwork and educational and cultural programming that connects members with what’s happening in New Orleans currently across the arts, business, local government, and more.

To learn more about The Shop at the CAC visit the website or schedule a tour: https://theshopcac.com.

The Bean Scene

The Bean Scene's Shift Toward Latin American Cuisine in New Orleans

By Rachel Strassel

Click aqui para español->Consumo de frijoles

There’s no denying South Louisiana’s love for beans. After all, what’s Monday without red beans and rice? The bean business in New Orleans dates back to the 1850s, according to Vince Hayward, fourth-generation owner and CEO of the popular Camellia Brand beans.

Many New Orleanians will attest that the red kidney bean is king, but in the 13 years since Hurricane Katrina, it’s garnered some stiff competition from two other varieties— pintos and black beans. The consumption of pintos and black beans has increased significantly in the Crescent City following Katrina. This is due in large part to the cultural influence of the Latino community who came here post-storm to help rebuild.

Along with an “all-hands on deck” attitude, they brought family recipes and a cuisine heavy in pinto beans (Spanish for “painted”) and black beans. Local food personality Poppy Tooker describes New Orleans as a “city of two beans” (the red bean and the pinto bean). She says the community has especially embraced the pinto bean’s versatility, flavor and place on the table.

“Since most people didn’t have functioning kitchens following the storm, food outlets became gathering spots,” Tooker says. “Because beans were widely available and economical, it was easy to make a large pot to share with family, friends and neighbors.”

 With a wide array of ingredients at Latino markets throughout the city, locals have taken Latin American flavors and incorporated them into traditional New Orleans cuisine, as well. “We have been introduced to ingredients that come along with that style of cuisine,” Tooker said. “You find the flavors of the Hispanic kitchen showing up in surprising ways throughout the city.”

As they were for decades before Hurricane Katrina and in the 13 years since, beans of all varieties continue to serve an important role in the history and culture of New Orleans cuisine, Hayward notes. Camellia Brand distributes 18 varieties of beans, peas and lentils.

“Whenever I’m wearing a shirt with the Camellia logo, people stop me to talk about beans, to share memories or stories about their family, and ask for secret recipes,” he said. “Regardless of who you are, where you came from or what your background is, beans are most likely a part of your culinary heritage.”

NOLA Salsa and Bachata fest

NOLA Salsa and Bachata fest

By Angie Hernandez

Click aqui para español->NOLA Salsa and Bachata fest

The New Orleans Salsa-Bachata Festival is back for its second year this coming August. What started as a small festival held in an Uptown dance studio has quickly turned into the largest dance event in the state of Louisiana. However, this wasn't an overnight process for the festival's founder and president, Rubia Garcia. Garcia began dancing in 2003. At the time, Garcia found herself between homes. It was through a friend's cousin that she discovered salsa dancing.

After her classes, Garcia would crash on her friend's couch. A journey which started by merely finding a place to stay quickly turned into a lifelong passion. Since then, Garcia has trained in the Dominican Republic, has become a dance instructor, and has traveled and performed at major dance festivals across the country. Not only was her dance career thriving, but the dance community in New Orleans was thriving as well. In 2005 all that came to halt because of Hurricane Katrina. "Everything I knew and loved about our community changed literally overnight.

There were no more classes. There were no more socials. No more performances and training. No dancers, period. Everything and everyone was gone," said Garcia.

During the aftermath of Katrina, Garcia discovered a new love and passion for New Orleans. "When I moved back from the Dominican Republic, I knew I wanted to become a teacher, to work with the youth of my community, and play a role in the rebirth of our dance community. I knew then, one day, this festival would happen."

Twelve years later, Garcia was finally able to produce the first major Latin dance festival in New Orleans. The three-day festival will take place at Le Meridien Hotel from August 3rd to August 6th. Over 10,000 square feet of ballroom space will be dedicated to salsa, bachata, and kizomba for over 20 hours of nightly social dancing throughout the weekend.

The festival will also provide for a learning experience by bringing international dance instructors who will be teaching over 60 hours of workshops, private instruction, and many fun challenges. Festival goers can choose different workshops such as salsa on 1 or on 2, Cha-cha, Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk, Samba, Ladies Styling and Latin fusion, among others.

As far as skill level, Garcia encourages everyone to attend! Most workshops will be offered in a variety of skill levels from beginner's basics to advanced performance-based workshops. Garcia adds, "my advice to first-time festival goers is to be as open, as flexible, and as fearless as possible."

Although New Orleans may fall behind in terms of a well-established Latin dance scenes when compared to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, Garcia is committed to putting New Orleans on the map. Garcia exclaims, "There are plenty of places that host these types of dance festivals. You can go to any major city in the world and find one. But in all the world, there is no place like New Orleans!"

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