category: culture

Best tunes for a ‘Latino classics’ playlist — spice up your par-tayyyy!

Fellow Latinos know what I’m talking about. No Thanksgiving or Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) is complete without some salsa and merengue classics blaring from the outdoor speakers. You walk into your uncle’s backyard and this is what you hear (in addition to folks’ “Ay, pero que flacita estas!“).

Whether you have some new Latino in-laws you want to make welcome, whether you’re a Latino yourself but never sat down to compile a playlist (shame on you! what kind of host/hostess are you?), whether you’re a Brooklyn hipster who just wants to throw an unexpected twist into the night’s after-dinner tunes, or whether you just want to add some Latino flavor to a dinner, here are my (expert) suggestions, gathered over years experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

I split these up into two categories — Category A: the dinner-background-chill-or-hipster-suitable tunes AND Category B: the faster, louder “dance floor” tunes category.

Category A (you can have these playing whileย guests mingle or during dinner):

Que Bueno Baila Ustedย by Beny More (am partial towards Beni because my grandpa was friends with him! yes, totally name dropping here)

Guantanamera by Beny More

El Cuarto de Tula by Buena Vista Social Club

Candela by Buena Vista Social Club

El No Te Quiere Na by Celia Cruz

Usted Abuso by Celia Cruz

Mi Tierra by Gloria Estefan

Y Como Es El? by Jose Luis Perales (super melodramatic but beautiful song about a guy who knows his wife is cheating on him — the song is called: “What’s He Like?” Seriously.)

Bachata Rosa by Juan Luis Guerra

Si Nos Dejan by Juan Miguel (THE quintessential Mexican mariachi song — amazing!)

Caballo Viejo by Roberto Torres (the classic!)

El Carretero by Roberto Torres (there is also the Buena Vista Social Club version of this song)

Ran Kan Kanย by Tito Puente

El Rey by Vicente Fernandez

Category B: Blast these puppies and watch the makeshiftย dance floor come alive! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Me Estan Hablando del Cielo by Celia Cruz

Fruta Frescaย by Carlos Vives

Sopa de Caracol byย Banda Blanca

La Fiesta de Pillito by El Gran Combo

No Hay Cama Pa Tanta Gente by El Gran Combo

Rebelion by Jose Arroyo (I don’t care if I’m in the middle of a store — if this ever comes on, I’m cuttin’ a rug)

Burbujas de Amor by Juan Luis Guerra

La Bilirubina by Juan Luis Guerra (if your guests don’t dance to this, take their pulse)

A Mover La Colita by Kato Jimenez and Luis Vasquez

Descarga Total by Maraca (total Cuban-street party, jam-session feel)

El Viejo by Roberto Torres

Seรฑora by Roberto Torres

Mi Pueblo by Roberto Torres

Guadalajara by Vincente Fernandez

Abusadora by Wilfredo Vargas (I planned the formal dances at HLS each year and, the first one I did, this was the track I had the DJ start off with, while my Costa Rican classmate and I took to the floor, me in my shimmery gold mini dress. Good times!)

El Africanoย by Wilfredo Vargas

Salvameย by Wilfredo Vargas

NOTE: If it’s Christmas, throw in Mi Burrito Sabanero. If it’s New Year’s, throw in El Ano Nuevo by Los Imperiales.

Now go spice up that playlist! Happy Thanksgiving or, as my mom pronounces it, sanksgeebeen.


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