Latino group hosts Bolivia’s Independence Day celebration at Mama’s Coffee House Aug. 29
Previously hosted celebrations for Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru
A group of seven Latinos from diverse professional backgrounds and nationalities have been hosting cultural Independence Day celebrations for 11 Latin countries, as well as the U.S.
“We wanted to learn about the other countries, especially for the kids who were born here,” said Lucila Ruvalcaba, director of the Cultural Association of Arts and Literature of Mexico. “We want them to know the cultures and traditions and we want to share it with other nationalities.”
To develop the Independence Day celebrations that began back in July, Ruvalcaba joined Rafael Prieto, journalist for “Que Pasa Mi Gente”; Manuel Betancur, owner of Mama’s Coffee House; Selene Stafford and Alma Campuzano, owners of El Alma de la Luna Latin-based dance academy; Fredy Romero, director of The Colombo American Foundation; and Juan Rodulfo, owner of Guaripete Solutions.
“We started in July because many countries celebrate in July,” Prieto said. “We’ve already hosted Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela and Peru.”
Betancur said in the beginning, he was worried that the celebrations wouldn’t draw a large crowd. He said this while he smiled, looking around at the packed house on Saturday, Aug. 29 during Bolivia’s Independence Day celebration at Mama’s Coffee House in Pineville.
WE WANT THEM TO KNOW THE CULTURES AND TRADITIONS AND WE WANT TO SHARE IT WITH OTHER NATIONALITIES.
Lucila Ruvalcaba, director of the Cultural Association of Arts and Literature of Mexico
“The Bolivian community only has 56 people registered as living in Charlotte by the census,” Prieto said, “but we have a packed house.”
El Alma de la Luna dancers posed for photographs in matching bright yellow traditional dresses and the crowd shuffled outside to sing the U.S. and Bolivian national anthems.
Wendy Frias, program presenter, provided geographical and cultural information on her home country, Bolivia, such as its elevation and diverse climates. She also explained Bolivia’s Independence Day is actually celebrated on Aug. 6.
Frias’ speech was followed by a fashion show of various simple or ornamental pieces handcrafted and explained by Frias’ mom, Hilda Mancilla – a former New York City fashion designer – representing the way people dress in the nine culturally and climatically diverse states that make up Bolivia.
El Alma de la Luna dancers took center stage to perform a traditional Afro-Bolivian dance called La Saya. “The dance originated in the jungles of the Yungas area of La Paz Department (state),” said Frias, a former Latin American pageant queen and model. “… It’s satirically reminiscent of the plight of the slaves then and the political situations now.”
Frias said dancing is an important part of Bolivian culture, especially during The Carnival of Oruro where students, since the 1970s, have made serious commitments to dance at the carnival in representation of their region for a minimum of three days. She said La Saya is often danced during that annual masquerade.
The Bolivian Independence Day celebration entertained a crowd of more than 75 people. Not only was there entertainment, but also traditional Bolivian empanadas and pastries prepared by Sweet Bakings by Grace and handmade Bolivian crafts, jewelry and handbags sold by eArtesan.com.
“Perhaps growing up in NYC spoiled me culturally,” Frias said, “but living now in Charlotte, I am pleased to see a new group was recently formed to celebrate each Latin American country’s Independence Day, by organizing and presenting each country for Charlotteans to learn and enjoy.”