To those who love to party, we salute you

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By Anita Mabante Leach

Welcome to Latino Perspectives Magazine’s first comprehensive look at where our cultural community plays.

If you’ve ever Googled the words “Latino” and “Phoenix” and “nightlife,” you will discover a sad, sad gap in the Internet’s World Wide Web coverage: there appears to be no Latino nightlife in Phoenix.

To which we say, ¿¡QUE!?

There is ample evidence that we dine out, we love to trip the luz fantastico, and everyone knows we love to party.

So what’s with the online fissure?

The July LPM issue fills that void, and takes a stand for the idea that Brown love to get down. Let’s take dining as an example:

It could be said that Hispanics in America are the biggest reason restaurants thrive. Acculturated Hispanics spend an average of $108 every week on eating out and having food delivered (83 percent more than the general market), according to a consumer study commissioned last year by direct mail media company ADVO, Inc. (That’s the company that mails an envelope stuffed with coupons to our homes every week.)

So it stands to reason, given the wealth of Latin food restaurants in the metro Phoenix area, that we know where to spend our dollars to get good grub, whether it’s a to-go order of tacos al pastor at a roadside stand or a platter filled with carne asada served at an upscale steak house.

(Actually mi gente are literally everywhere on the food scene, from the kitchens of Cherry Blossom Noodle Café to the haute cuisine of Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician.)

Then, there’s the music. Sure, there are those for whom mariachi music is the only genre that matters, but we also know of places where Latino musicians jam in jazz sessions that are so cool, they’re caliente. Check out our recommendations and take time to spend a few evenings listening to these musicians. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for contemporary Latin jazz.

And there are other genres around the Valley. There’s salsa in Scottsdale (Tropicana) and banda in central Phoenix (El Capri and Rio Grande). Reggaetón has wiggled into venues across the Valley, while Old School resurfaces onstage as summer reunion tours touch down.

Don’t forget the younger Latino bands and performers, who are taking what they like from all music genres and melding those sounds into something that defies labels. Local groups like Fatigo, Cascabel and Quetzal Guerrero are worth hearing, as the next generation puts a Latino spin on sounds.

Speaking of going out to hear music, such activity can only lead to dancing. Decades ago, Latinos jammed the dance floors at the Riverside and Calderón ballrooms in south Phoenix. Of the older hot spots, American Legion Post 41 still draws a monthly crowd. Couples are elbow to elbow at El Capri, jostling to banda music, while the cool cumbia reigns at a new spot to trot, Tradiciones.

While browsing through the section, we hope you will make some plans to explore the clubs, restaurants and music venues. This kind of support is vital to the success of our homegrown Latino talent. From emerging artists to longtime entertainers and entrepreneurs, Hispanics bring a cultural slant to the Valley that has defined it for more than 100 years, despite what some may say. To recognize ourselves as a vibrant community of Brown people living throughout this metropolis – the sixth largest city in America – is a giant step toward self-validation that leads to cultural pride and power.

We need more events in which Latinos and others can celebrate a culture rich in language, music, food, art and dance: More Puerto Rican pachangas; más mariachi music concerts; a cultural arts center for Cubanos, Colombianos and Costa Ricans – in other words, more of everything for those who love all things Latino. This magazine feature has gathered some of the places we love to party and play. We’d love to see your ideas as well – simply visit and let us know your favorites.

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