Viva Latin London: Local World Arts and Latino Culture in the UK


Everyone knows there’s nothing quite like Latin passion, and London’s Latino community is bringing it to a number of events in the city this summer that showcase the vibrant music, food and dance that falls under their broad cultural banner.

“Latin culture by definition is very inclusive, because it draws from so many places and other smaller cultures – it doesn’t matter where you are from, it’s all about sharing [that] passion,” says Jose Luis, a Londoner of 15 years who hails from Venezuela and is one of the brains behind Carnaval del Pueblo, a festival which was the second-largest of its kind – behind Notting Hill – before funding cuts and the shutdown of its venue last year.
The Carnaval is set to return though, bigger and better, starting with a warm-up day on Aug 11 at Coronet in Elephant & Castle, a taster for a 2014 fiesta in Burgess Park.

DJ and events specialist Luis, who runs the Latin UK Awards and La Bomba for Ministry of Sound, is calling the del Pueblo preview with Local World Arts a “showcase of things to come”. Above all, it’s “a really fun day that’s all about the music and food and culture. If you’re not Latino in the blood, you can still be part of the culture,” he says. “Come and have a good time, a little dance and some fantastic food – we are always wanting to share what we have.”
Along with music and art, live acts featured at the LWA Festival include Combe, a soulful London-based Latino band, and Los Niños Vallenatos, an 11-piece Colombian folk accordion group revered around the globe.
Musician and performer Luis Lema is singing from the same hymn book as Luis. Lema, who’s lived in the UK for 20 years since coming here from Colombia, will perform as part of the Latidos Latin American Festival, another colourful celebration at Coronet on August 18.

Latidos is focusing on different, specific aspects of Latino culture, and how they relate, with music, art, dance, workshops and a 10 DJ-strong afterparty until late.
From 1pm there will be music on the main stage from Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, the Andes, Cuba and Colombia, wrapping up with Luis Lema and his Colombian Band 1600.
“My folk music is exposing the Afro-Colombian music you don’t see very often here,” he tells us proudly. “It’s very tropical, it’s very, very fresh…” He pauses for a moment. “It’s like oranges.” Who could deny themselves that? “It’s upbeat, like Carnival, and puts people into a holiday time. Free flowing – perfect to dance and feel it.”

You can also learn various Latin dance styles at the event to ensure you do Lema’s work justice.
If Lema sounds proud of his own music, he’s even more enthusiastic about sharing his and other cultures as a team with his fellow Londoners.
“It’s amazing to be able to bring all of these cultures together as one and bring in our new friends too,” he says.
Following the live programme is an after party featuring the gamut of Latino styles across three rooms. So what are you waiting for? Get a taste of some Latin flavour.

–Courtesy of TNT Magazine

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