Though the Latino population of New York City’s Lower East Side (or Loisaida) has decreased steadily—with gentrification and displacement among two of the contributing factors—the annual Loisaida Festival continues to revive the Latino heartbeat of the neighborhood on the Sunday before Memorial Day, the culmination of a year’s worth of programming on the part of the Loisaida Inc. Center, which has organized the festival since 1987.
In recent years, the celebration has also become an open invitation to the more than two million Latinos living in New York City. Last year, for example, attendance doubled. Over 29,000 individuals filled the six-block stretch of Loisaida Avenue, drawn to a festival lineup that includes a diverse offering of Latin music, comedy, dance, and theater.
This year will be no different.
Among the the main stage highlights will be festival co-host Flaco Navaja and his salsa band, The Razorblades; Kinto Zonó, an 11-piece ensemble inspired by the Puerto Rican plena group founded by Sammy Tanco in the Lower East Side in the 1970s; and the Palladium Mambo All-Stars, who, in addition to the classic mambo of the Palladium era, will dedicate a portion of their set to the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz.
Eduardo Alegría of the Puerto Rican indie band Superaquello and leader of the project Alegría Rampante, will also make a special performance on the main stage accompanied by Desmar Guevara, musical director of the Pregones Theater and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (PRTT).
M.A.K.U. Soundsystem are scheduled to perform as well, having just released the music video for their new single “Por Encima” on May 17th to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
The 31st annual Loisaida Festival will take place on May 27. To learn more, visit www.loisaidafest.org