Cumbia NYC is an Caribbean Afro-Colombian rhythm, music, and dance that is popular in Mexico and across Latin America.
Vallenato is a similar, but more Indigenous Andean form.
Cumbia is very fun to dance to. It’s pace is a little slower than most tropical music, so it’s easy to flow and improvise.
Cumbia in New York City
CARTAGENA, Colombia ~ The singer who mixed many Caribbean traditions into Colombian Salsa, was born on November 1, 1955.
A pan-Latin cumbia, salsa, jazz, and folkloric band with a Colombian Artistic Director.
DROM in Manhattan’s East Village
Saturday, November 18, 2023
New York City’s first Bullerengue group updates the Caribbean Colombian women’s tradition from San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African town in the Americas.
HOSTOS CENTER in Mott Haven, The Bronx
Saturday, October 14, 2023
New York’s cumbia scene is mostly in Brooklyn and Queens.
NYC Cumbia Clubs
These venues play some cumbia.
- Barbès; in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is New York’s home of psychedelic cumbia. 🇫🇷
- Market Hotel in Bushwick, Brooklyn. markethotel.org
- Mi Sabor Café in Bed-Study, Brooklyn. @mi_sabor_cafe 🇩🇴
- La Boom in Woodside, Queens. 🇲🇽
- Queens Palace in Woodside, Queens is a rental venue.
- Sabor Latino in Elmhurst, Queens. 🇪🇨
- SOBs in Hudson Square, Manhattan.
- Terraza 7 in Elmhurst, Queens. 🇨🇴
Lot Radio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn plays all kinds of Latin music 24/7. thelotradio.com
NYC Cumbia DJs
They are called “sonideros” and give shoutouts with the music.
- hellotones, Anthony Dominguez. 🇲🇽
- DJ Chihuahua, Cristian Simon. 🇲🇽
- DJ Danna Yana Allpa 🇪🇨
- Shadow Recordz 🇲🇽
- Sonido Caluda, David Huerta. 🇲🇽
- Sonido Tipsy.
NYC Cumbia Theaters
These theaters present some cumbia:
- ID Studio Theater in Mott Haven, The Bronx. 🇨🇴
- Thalia Spanish Theatre; in Sunnyside, Queens; produces some cumbia shows. 🇪🇸
NYC Cumbia Bands
Araceli Poma and Matt Geraghty’s Afro-Andean Funk is an Afro-Peruvian cumbia band.
Gregorio Uribe plays cumbia jazz, more in the vallenato frame. 🇨🇴
Locobeach is a Venezuelan psychedelic cumbia band. 🇻🇪
Pablo Mayor Folklore Urbano is a Colombian salsa orchestra that also plays cumbia. 🇨🇴
Global Cumbia Bands
Binomio de Oro is a Colombian vallenato band. 🇨🇴
Carlos Vives launched his music career by starring in a telenovela about vallenato legend Rafael Escalona. 🇨🇴
Celso Piña (1952-2019) was an important Mexican cumbia musician. 🇲🇽
Grupo Niche is an iconic Colombian salsa band that also plays cumbia. 🇨🇴
La Sonora Dinamita was one of the first cumbia bands to go global. 🇨🇴
Los Ángeles Azules is a Mexican cumbia band. 🇲🇽
Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto is a Colombian band that plays folkloric cumbia. 🇨🇴
Totó la Momposina is a Colombian cumbia legend. 🇨🇴
Like a lot of Latin culture, cumbia traditions began as African Diaspora and Indigenous expressions of family, faith, community, and love in small towns. Before mass media, a cumbiamba party was the only entertainment. There wasn’t anything else to do, so the entire community joined in. These gatherings also served as informal markets and places to find love. The party started as soon as work was done, and could go on for days until the start of the next workday.
Cumbia is an Caribbean Afro-Colombian rhythm, music, and dance that is popular in Mexico and across Latin America.
Vallenato is similar, but is a more Indigenous Andean form. It is sort of mountain cumbia. The Andes mountains are a major geographical feature of Colombia.
The city of Valledupar in an Andean valley in Cesar Department, Colombia is vallenato’s spiritual home. The name “vallenato” probably derives from Valledupar.
Andrés Landero (1931-2000) of San Jacinto, “El Rey de la Cumbia,” is one of the great early vallenato musicians. He would go to the mountains to copy the sounds of the birds and animals. We listen to him a lot in the morning.
Rafael Escalona (1926-2009) was an important early composer. A 1991 Colombian telenovela about his life starred Carlos Vives. Vives fused vallenato and rock which broadened the audience. He is now the icon of contemporary vallenato. Gregorio Uribe is New York City’s version.
Mexican cumbia has its own vibe with synthesizers and electronics. The music is especially popular in Puebla, Oaxaca and Guerrero in Southwest Mexico. Guerrero is where Mexico’s Afro-Mexican community migrated from its Caribbean origins in Colonial Veracruz.
Luis Carlos Meyer Castandet (1916-1998) was a Colombian musician who brought cumbia to Mexico and popularized it with songs like “La Historía” and “La Cumbia Cienaguera.”
Peru and Venezuela have a form of psychedelic cumbia called “chicha” that is sort of cumbia with surf guitar. Barbès in Brooklyn is its New York home.
Dutch DJ Dick Verdult created Argentine cumbia house music in Buenos Aires from the so-called “music of the maids.”