Puerto Rico's 30th "Día Nacional de la Salsa"
by DJ Mar Y Soul
If you love salsa like I do, you can listen to it morning, noon and night. Nod if you agree. Well, what if I told you that there is an annual event that has salsa playing from about ten in the morning until way past midnight? Did I mention that it’s live salsa from the top names of all time? So, I see I have your attention!
El Día Nacional de la Salsa (“National Salsa Day”) is arguably one of the most epic events in salsa today, occurring annually in Puerto Rico. Brought to the masses by the island’s beloved salsa station Z93, known worldwide as “La Zeta,” this outdoor concert is attended by tens of thousands of salsa fans who travel from all over the globe to participate. This year, over 20,000 fans converged on the Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan to witness a music mega-fest!
This year’s festival, produced by beloved Z93 director of programming and radio host Néstor Rodríguez, “El Buho Loco,” was held on St. Patty’s Day, Sunday, March 17th, with performances by this year’s honorees: bassist Edwin Morales and his Orquesta Mulenze featuring Pedro Brull, Pedro Conga y La Internacional, Willie Rosario and his Orchestra and the one and only Cano Estremera. The day was rounded out musically with Día Nacional’s band headed by Luis García with Cheo Feliciano, Eddie Montalvo, La India, Lalo Rodríguez, Tony Vega, Tito Nieves, José Alberto "El Canario," José Lugo and Guasábara Combo, and Maelo Ruiz, among others.
Its creator and founder, Pedro Arroyo, had the vision of creating a yearly tradition that with each passing year would grow bigger and better than the one before, bringing together salsa fans from all over the world in one place—the island of Puerto Rico. For over three decades, its organizers have succeeded in uniting the most loved personalities in salsa music on one stage.
The first “Día Nacional” was held in 1983 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, honoring some of the best and most admired figures in the genre, from vocalists, bandleaders and composers, to arrangers, musicians and producers. Some of the icons honored over the years include Tito Puente, Santos Colón, Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz, Tite Curet Alonso, Mario Ortíz, Ray Barretto, Tommy Olivencia and Manny Oquendo. Posthumous honorees include Tito Rodríguez, Jerry Masucci, Rafael Cortijo, Charlie Palmieri and Frankie Ruiz.
In recent years, choreography has been added to the all day festival, showcasing the best and brightest dancers from the island, on stage with musical greats. The youngbloods representing the new generation in the music and dance are consistently given an opportunity to showcase their talents on stage, in front of tens of thousands of salsa fans.
Día Nacional also provides a reunion location for dancers, and collectors of records and memorabilia. Attendees can view and purchase items from local artisans and sellers who promote salsa pride, and who honor Puerto Rico’s cultural contributions.
This event is the ultimate cultural exchange for salsa lovers and a must for those who love making salsa a part of their travel destinations. So add this one to your must-do-list. I promise you will not regret it, and more than likely, you will repeat it by going again another year! ◊◊◊
Everyone’s “Favorite Lady DJ,” DJ Mar Y Soul deejays, on a regular basis, in some of the most popular salsa dancing venues in New York City and abroad. She currently spins at Mambo Fateegz Salsa Fridays and has enjoyed a successful run at Iguana Salsa Sundays. She makes regular appearances at Club Cache in New York City and prides herself on playing “the best music for dancers.”
DJ Mar Y Soul has a recurring association producing for the New York International Salsa Congress, CCADI’s Latin Music Collector’s Festival and the Women in Salsa Festival in Seattle, Washington. She is very proud to have been an invited guest on Vicki Solá’s Que Viva La Musica (89.1 WFDU-FM) spinning her tracks on air in 2012 and in the future. In 2013, DJ Mar Y Soul looks forward to the launch of djmarysoul.com and other musical endeavors.
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