Historians report that the disco Cheetah club It had been inaugurated three years earlier, in October 1968, which had two dance floors and the first floor dance floor was the largest and 1,200 people entered.
That the place had more than three thousand lights, that only 18 musicians entered the stage and that the other two invited musicians, Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz, only went up when they were called to discharge.
The truth is that all the chroniclers of Latin music agree that that day, August 26, 1971, the world musical phenomenon that would be called salsa exploded in New York.
Yes, salsa, that music with Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican rhythms that also included the street sound, urban, Spanish Harlem and all those who had come with their cultures to the Bronx or what they simply called the Barrio.
That concert was one of the most important in the history of Latin culture in the United States, that changed the musical history of our peoples.
Those who lived it and the musicians who participated remember that it was a night of furious enjoyment that was lived in that Manhattan nightclub.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of that legendary journey. And the salseros of the world celebrate it.
Jerry Masucci and Johnny Pacheco, the musical leader of Fania Records, had already presented an orchestra in 1968, in a small bar, the Red Garter club, but it was a purely promotional event and with several guests from other labels, such as Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Richie Ray.
Three years later, they convinced producer Ralph Mercado, owner of the local Cheetah Club, located on 52nd Street, in the heart of New York, to present an All Stars there, in the style of what the Alegre, Tico and Cesta labels were already doing. .
Despite the stars that were going to gather, salsa historians agree that the organizers did not have high expectations. Very few people were expecting, especially since the concert would take place on a Thursday (one day before the salary is paid). But the place was filled to capacity, with more than two thousand people and with long lines in the block where the Cheetah room was located.
It was no wonder, the participating musicians were leaders of other orchestras, as well as brave singers and great instrumentalists.
Ray Barreto, Larry Harlow, Willie Colón, Orestes Vilató, Barry Rogers, Bobby Valentín, Johnny Pacheco, Richie Ray, Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Bobby Cruz, Ismael Miranda, Adalberto Santiago, among others.
The concert produced two albums, Live at the Cheetah Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, the film Our Latin Thing (which can be found in its entirety on YouTube) and the film’s soundtrack.
The public went crazy with ‘Quitate you’ (with more than 16 minutes of improvisation), ‘Anacaona’, ‘Download Fania’, ‘Now I’m coming’, ‘Stars of Fania’, ‘Get tough’ … There was a lot of improvisation, instrumental talent, voices delivered to the party. The sauce that day became a reality.
Afterwards, nothing would be the same again. The world would move to the rhythm of sones, guaguancós, mambos, Afro-Cuban jazz, guaracha and of course a lot, a lot, joy.
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