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East Boston Latin Music Festival debuts this weekend

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
East Boston Latin Music Festival debuts this weekend
Zayra Pola COURTESY PHOTO

This weekend, the sounds of salsa will waft through the streets of East Boston during the East Boston Latin Music Festival: Sonidos de la Gente, on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Bremen Street Park from 1–6:30 p.m. Presented by ZUMIX and state Sen. Lydia Edwards, the free festival celebrates the diverse Latin American cultures of East Boston and their vibrant music.

Veronica Robles COURTESY PHOTO

Bands will include Zayra Pola, Sonn de mi Tierra, Veronica Robles’ mariachi band and Marcus Santos’ Grooversity. Salsa y Control, Samba Viva and other groups will provide dance performances and participatory group dances—because what’s a music festival if those hips aren’t swinging on the dance floor?

“We wanted to get a diverse group of artists that represent the cultures that live in East Boston, and they represent a lot of Latin American countries,” says Johnny Giraldo, director of Salsa y Control Dance Company and a member of the ZUMIX board of directors. “Our community has a rich, extensive list of very talented artists that I think is important to highlight and bring to the forefront of this event.”

For headliner Zayra Pola, this is an opportunity to celebrate with her community, but also to provide important representation. Pola is a vibrant and talented salsa musician, composer and timbales player. Growing up, she was frequently told that percussion was no instrument for a woman. Now a successful artist with a new album under her belt, Pola has showed the critics just how wrong they were. “The industry was dominated only by men,” says Pola. “It’s a great accomplishment for me, and I do it for representation of the woman and the Latina woman in the music industry.”

Veronica Robles encountered similar stereotypes, which is why she established an all-female mariachi band, turning tropes on their heads. For both women, this performance and every performance are an opportunity to show other young Latinas that they can pursue their musical dreams any way they want.

The festival is a free and family-friendly event in Bremen Street Park, right by the MBTA Blue Line Airport stop, where there is a playground and splash pad for use as well.

“I hope people are reminded how beautiful Latinx culture is in the community,” says Giraldo. “It’s always very special to see when somebody forgets about their troubles for one dance, one song. For that moment in time, it’s almost like the world stops and nothing else matters.”

East Boston Latin Music Festival, salsa, Sonidos de la Gente