Thank you so much to everyone who came out to EnE Salon for the opening reception of my "Boogaloo Afternoon" exhibit on July 12th! There was so much love and magic present. Thank you for being a part of it.
For those of you who couldn't attend, here is the story I told that night:
I studied photography in highschool. I loved it, and spent any free time during my senior year in the dark room developing my own film and prints. When I moved to NYC for college, I lost access to the equipment, and photography was no longer a reality for me. After various and unsatisfying point-and-shoot cameras, I bought my first "real" digital camera in 2010. I used it to mostly to capture memories, hopefully somewhat artistically. I got my hands on books about the art of processing an image, and I learned all I could.
2010 was also the year I dedicated myself to training full time with Frankie Martinez in his method of Afro-Latin dance. To study with Frankie means to be indoctrinated in the Boogaloo. It is a rite of passage when you first go to download Johnny Colon's "Boogaloo Blues" because you have to bring that groove home with you. It is also a rite of passage when you book your first appointment with Aisha and Nelson at EnE Salon. You are in the family!
Two years ago I was sitting in Aisha's chair at the salon while she did my makeup for a photo session with Sandra Guzman, and Frankie stopped by after meeting Matthew Ramirez Warren for the first time to discuss the film Matthew was making. Frankie was very excited about the project: Matthew needed dancers to recreate a club scene from the 1960's, for an important documentary about Latin music in NYC. They set the date to film, and that fall Frankie invited his company members and some of his advanced students to film the dance scenes. We all did some research and shared photos of album covers and 1960's fashion. Nelson graciously opened up the salon early in the morning, and he and Aisha did tremendous work getting us to look the part. When we arrived at the location, Matthew was impressed and blown away by how we looked like we just stepped out of time. We spent the afternoon dancing the Boogaloo, and Nelson was incredibly helpful in between takes, with the secret stash of hairpins in his pocket. What was so rewarding to me was not only being able to bring a director's artistic vision to life, but to spend the day in friendship. What's better than dancing for hours with your friends, with music you love?
I brought my camera that day, to capture some memories, and the fantastic hairdos, but what happened was more profound than that. It became my first serious attempt at portraiture. I discovered I wanted to share the excitement of that day, and the friendship. Later on, as a processed the photos, I discovered how much I love all these dancers, as I saw how the light touched their skin, how Aisha works with the color red, how Tyffani and Preston are never apart, how Kristina D. popped into the photo of Frankie just as I clicked it, how shiny Lia's eyes were that day. This collection of photos was a break-through for me, and paved the way for me to take portraiture more seriously. Aisha was incredible encouraging and supportive, and she became my first client on a professional basis the following spring when I decided to go into business as Iluminadora Photography.
So, these photos are a part of our history of working with Frankie and Afro-Latin dance, they are a part of a virtual history of Boogaloo, they are a history of our friendship, and they are an important part of my history as a photographer. Thank you so much to all of the dancers in the photos; Matthew Ramirez Warren for inviting us to dance in his film; Lia Robertson for helping me proofread and get organized; Cynthia Kalathas for bringing her iPad so you all could watch the movie trailer; John Piazza and Jimmy Ruiz and Bowtie Bitters for mixing such delicious cocktails; Nestor "Party Time" Villar for drumming for us; Frankie Martinez for so much, but mostly in this case for bringing us to be in the film and for making the Boogaloo playlist for tonight; Nelson Baretto and Aisha Koswara for hosting this photo collection and event, and for their belief in me and their support, and for this opportunity; and thank you to every single one of you who came out tonight for your presence.
You can still see the photo exhibit at EnE Salon on the Lower East Side.
Please check out "We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo" for more information about seeing the film.
Additional photos by Lia Robertson, Nelson Baretto, Cynthia Kalathas.