When the Spirits Dance Mambo | Book Signing & Talk W/ Dr. Marta Moreno Vega
120 East 125th Street
New York, NY 10035
Institution builder, professor, artist, activist, and CCCADI founder Dr. Marta Moreno Vega republishes her personal memoir When the Spirits Dance Mambo: Growing Up Nuyorican in El Barrio, with a new introduction. She documents her Nuyorican upbringing through an intersectional lens of spirituality, music, identity, and culture.
This book signing kicks off the Spirit Tour, a multifaceted experience presented in collaboration with the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute and the Creative Justice Initiative, founded by Dr. Vega. The tour includes four projects centered around Afro Caribbean/Latinx cultural expressions of African based spirituality, music, history, and personal narrative. In addition to the release of the book, the Spirit Tour features film screenings and the re-release of the soundtrack of the original When the Spirits Dance Mambodocumentary and culminates with an immersive culture tour in Cuba from July 1st to July 10th, 2018!
When rock and roll was transforming American culture in the 1950s and ’60s, East Harlem pulsed with the sounds of mambo and merengue. Instead of Elvis and the Beatles, Marta Moreno Vega grew up worshipping Celia Cruz, Mario Bauza, and Arsenio Rodriguez. Their music could be heard on every radio in El Barrio and from the main stage at the legendary Palladium, where every weekend working-class kids dressed in their sharpest suits and highest heels and became mambo kings and queens. Spanish Harlem was a vibrant and dynamic world, but it was also a place of constant change, where the traditions of Puerto Rican parents clashed with their children’s American ideals.
A precocious little girl with wildly curly hair, Marta was the baby of the family and the favorite of her elderly abuela, who lived in the apartment down the hall. Abuela Luisa was the spiritual center of the family, an espiritista who smoked cigars and honored the Afro-Caribbean deities who had always protected their family. But it was Marta’s brother, Chachito, who taught her the latest dance steps and called her from the pay phone at the Palladium at night so she could listen, huddled beneath the bedcovers, to the seductive rhythms of Tito Puente and his orchestra.
“Viva Marta Moreno Vega! With honesty, humor, and love, she relives her coming-of-age in Spanish Harlem—the highs and the lows—eloquently documenting how deeply rooted West African cultural traditions are in her rich Puerto Rican heritage. Marta Vega’s memoir makes me want to mambo.” —Susan Taylor, editorial director of Essence and author of Lessons in Living
When: Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 6 PM - 8 PM
Where: Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
Admission: FREE | Suggested Admission: $5.00
*Signed copies of the book available for sale at the event.
FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE. We require participants to arrive 15 minutes before the session. 5 minutes prior activity, any unclaimed tickets are released to walk-up and standby participants.
*Program Subject to Change