Fiesta Latina aims to diversify Athens with an assorted Latin music
Originally published in The Post.
Local DJs host Fiesta Latina at Jackie O’s and hope to spread Latin culture through music.
Maicol Lynch said he attended a Fiesta Latina event earlier in the year and said many do not realize how diverse Latin music can be.
“We heard a lot of salsa and reggaeton and Americanized music by Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, but it’s much more than that,” the senior studying history and Latin American studies said. “I’m hoping that people, when they do come, they leave with a better understanding of diversity not only here in Athens, but also in Latin America.”
The coordinators of the Fiesta Latina event hope to convey more understanding to Latin music when they DJ at Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery Friday.
“I just want people to open their minds to the Latin music and know that anyone can dance to it,” Alex “DJ Rico” Smith, the organizer of the event, said. “It’s not just because you’re Spanish. … It’s for everyone just to have a good time.”
Fiesta Latina has been a tradition Smith said he helped establish along with Khader “DJ Julio” Alshaar. Smith said he has been running the event for the past three years.
“I’ve always been a fan of Latin music,” Smith, a junior studying nursing, said. “I took it over from a guy named Juan Pablo. He actually got me into DJing and got me to enjoy the more tactical aspect of the music.”
This will be Alshaar’s first year helping Smith out.
“When Juan Pablo left, he didn’t really leave Rico with a lot of help,” Alshaar said. “He did a few events by himself, but now I’m helping him out.”
There is a fairly large community of DJs on campus, but Alshaar said the majority play hip-hop, EDM and house music.
“There is a big DJ scene, but there isn’t any diversity,” Alshaar said. “There aren’t a lot of Latino DJs.”
Smith said a mix of people from many different cultures come out to the event each time with more people in attendance each year.
“I’ve seen it grow a lot,” Smith said. “I see a mix of people: Latinos, Asians, Americans. … It’s a whole melting pot.”
The event isn’t aimed at targeting just Latinos, but also different ethnicities. Smith and Alshaar are trying to have everyone come out and experience a different style music through a new culture other than their own.
“I’m Syrian, not even American, and I’m into Latin music,” Alshaar, a senior studying information and telecommunication systems, said. “No one can beat Latin music on dancing, that’s for sure. No matter what kind of music you like, if you want to dance you can dance to Spanish music.”
Before Smith took on the responsibility of Fiesta Latina, it was held in several different venues around Athens.
“We did it at Sol and it wasn’t as successful as it is at Jackie O’s,” Alshaar said. “Once you say Fiesta Latina, the default location for it is Jackie O’s just because it started there, and it has been there for quite a bit of time.”
Smith hopes to one day have a large enough following to move Fiesta Latina to a bigger venue.
“I would hope to see it grow to where I can go to a different venue,” Smith said. “That would be a big goal.”