July 20 (the official year is 1810) is Colombian Independence Day. I know this because every Sunday around that time of year, my family would head out to Balboa Park in San Diego for the Colombian Independence Day festival. My mom would teach the Colombian kids traditional dances (cumbias) and they'd put on a show in the International Pavillions - an area of the park carved out to showcase every nation that could afford to pay dues for a little cottage (or shared space) representative of their country. My mom was in the House of Colombia, and the best thing about it was the food. There would be tons of food for sale, all made by various Colombian mothers and grandmothers, like a giant bakesale... except with empanadas and arepas and tamales and platanos and yuca and yummy rice pudding and tres leches flan... Mmmm.
My mom isn't in the House of Colombia anymore - she's really pissed off at her people these days. It's always been a tough country, but now she believes everyone there is a thief, a murderer, a con man. Most of her family lives here in the States now, and she is currently a member of the House of Spain. Her father is Spanish, so she qualifies, and the Spanairds are much more cultured.
However, here in LA, I found a couple of interesting ways to celebrate Colombian Independence Day. The fabulous Scene Bar in Glendale is getting nuts with Vallenato quintet Very Be Careful, along with Shesaydo and DJ's spinning cumbia. Watch the hips swivel.At the Getty Center (for free!) on Saturday the 23rd, you can check out Andrea Echeverri and Aterciopelados, w/ Los Pinguos, Los Super Elegantes, and DJ Dark Alley. Andrea Acheverri was the front person for Aterciopelados, a Colombian sort of electronic goth indie band. Yea, imagine it. It's great. Anyway, solo she's kinda like Cat Power, and at this event you get her solo and back with the band.
It isn't all about Shakira (although that's what I'm listening to right now... where do you think I got the name for this post?).