Salsa legends Oscar de Leon and Ismael Miranda shared the stage at the Kupferberg Center of the Arts on Nov. 12. It gave salsa lovers the opportunity to enjoy good music, food and beverages complimentary of Queens College.
Oscar de Leon, a Venezuelan native, has been performing salsa hits for decades. He is also known as “El León de la Salsa” (Salsa’s Lion.) Others first noticed his passion for music when he purchased a taxi. But this was not your ordinary taxi — it became known as the “Rumba Taxi.” People would line up outside waiting for the party taxi to take them wherever they had to go.
Shortly after, he formed the musical group, Dimensión Latina. In 1972 their hit song “Llorarás” exploded onto the music scene. De Leon left the band in 1976 when he decided to make his own musical creations and record hits such as “Mata Siguaraya” and “Sientate Ahí.” His international career, which launched in the 1980′s, was successful in part because he was unlike other artists.
Aside from his unique voice and lyricism, he is also known for his competency in being a one-man show. He would sing, dance and play instruments all at once throughout every performance.
The night began with a DJ playing Latin hits from one of the most famous Latin radio stations La Mezcla 96.3. Audience members started mingling with one another and even started warming up on their salsa moves.
Ismael Miranda was the opening act and performed some of his hit singles such as “Asi Se Compone Un Son,” “Maria Luisa” and “En Mi Viejo San Juan.”
Miranda emphasized how proud he was to be Puerto Rican, which excited the audience. Every time he gave a shout out to the island, the audience would respond with cheer and applause.
Throughout his pieces, Miranda would have intimate discussions with the audience members and would tell them personal stories of his childhood and his passion for Salsa.
The audience was more than excited; they were ecstatic. Members of the audience would get up and dance during the performances as well as sing along.
De Leon and Miranda shook some hands and took selfies with audience members who sat close to the stage. However, eventually, more and more people from the audience ran up to attempt to touch one of the hands of the salsa legend.
Maritza Martinez, a very satisfied member of the audience, expressed her opinion of the event.
“As a native of Puerto Rico, it brought me so much joy having this concert right by my house. It was my home away from home. I felt like I was back home in Puerto Rico even though we are right on Kissena Boulevard,” she said.
Vendors outside the concert hall provided Puerto Rican merchandise and treats such as dulce de coco, a traditional coconut candy. A bar was also available for viewers to get beverages and snacks before, after and during the show.
Nitzali Vega, a dedicated Salsa fan, said how much she would love to see another Salsa event at Queens College.
“Salsa shapes us (Latinos) and brings us together. Everyone was getting up and dancing with each other without even knowing the person they were dancing with. To others, salsa can be just a music genre, but to us, it’s a way of life,” she said.
Norberto Garcia described his feelings of the night.
“Events like these make me feel so proud of being Latino. When Miranda would shout out ‘Puerto Rico,’ I made sure I chanted back as loud as I could. The community needs more events like this. It’s important to stick to your roots and always keep your culture close to your heart,” he said.