Por Rafael Ulloa
If you like to go out in Boston and enjoy Salsa dancing or at least feel curious about the vibrant Salsa scene in Beantown, probably you have heard of DJ Hernan. Besides playing music three nights a week at different Salsa events in Boston, Hernan Choque runs a Salsa information newsletter that covers everything and anything related to Latino dance styles and events going on around the city.
TuBoston.com interviewed the man behind the newsletter and the turntables at many of the most reputable Salsa nights in Boston.
-Did you start in the local Salsa scene as a DJ?
-I didn’t start as a DJ, I started as a dancer. Ten years ago I arrived to Boston from Miami, where you find a big Latino community but believe it or not I never danced salsa. When I came to Boston I became really interested in Salsa so started calling companies to find out who was teaching salsa and I contacted Hips on Fire and danced with them many years. Suddenly somebody asked me if I play music and my answer was yes. At that time my collection of music was small and didn’t have experience, but I said «YES»… and that was seven years ago. That’s how I became DJ Hernan.
-So where did DJ Hernan started to play Salsa?
-There was this instructor, April Genovese, who wanted to start in Boston the concept of the «socials» that were around for some time in New York: Places let salsa lovers use the club on Monday or Tuesdays, days that are not so busy, and then everybody goes there to dance and have fun. So April started a party at the VFW in Central Square on Sundays and I was the DJ. It was a small community of Salsa dancers back then.
-Back then you were the new Salsa guy in town. How was the reaction of the community when you started playing?
-When I started there was Johnny D’s Salsa Sundays and there was Ryles on Thursdays, Temporada Latina. I should say that most people here were not ready for what I liked to play. I kind of like the old stuff, 60’s and 70’s Salsa. Here when I started playing they were hooked on 80’s Salsa. But now peoples like the hardcore classic Salsa. If you play 80’s stuff they will kick you out!
-How is Boston’s Salsa Scene nowadays?
-The scene now is HUGE. There is a place where you can dance almost every day and there are special parties every two weeks with bands and dance companies from out of State. Just few weeks ago we had a Salsa Congress that had an attendance of 3,000 or 4,000 people. It is more than just dancing salsa, it has become like a huge community. People get involved, progress from taking lessons and then you get to know the people.
-Do you see many Latinos at the Salsa events?
-Believe it or not I would say just 10% of the people that attended the Congress were Latinos. This is very sad because I am a Latino and seeing that just a few Latinos are representing our culture. In the usual Salsa nights I would say that the mix is 20% Latinos and 80% non Latinos.
-So Latinos are a minority in these events. Why do you think that happens?
-We grew up listening to this music and dancing to it. When Latinos go to a place where they are teachin