Published May 24. 2022 11:20AM
Touchstone Theatre hosted a Latinx Block Party, or Fiesta Latina, April 30 in the large attractive yard behind its buildings on South Fourth Street.
Featured were food, drink, dance and theater – all the ingredients of a good time. And a very good time was had by all. Approximately 200 people attended, many of them Puerto Rican in background. Seniors who are members of the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley wore the traditional, brilliantly colored and flowing clothing of the island. They also performed several entertaining skits about Puerto Rican life and culture.
A local band, Mambo Caliente, featuring a dozen performers, lit the place up. Grandchildren danced with grandparents, lovers kissed, people gabbed with the cops manning a recruiting table for the Bethlehem Police Force, everybody ate and drank. The vibe could not have been more positive.
New to Touchstone Theatre’s facilities is the Barrio Stage, one of the largest outdoor stages in the Lehigh Valley. Located in the theater’s backyard, so to speak, it could easily have accommodated a band twice the size of Mambo Caliente. It promises to be a great resource for public performances of all sorts.
There was no admission charge for the Latinx Block Party (but there were modest charges for food and drinks). When the event returns next spring, anyone looking for an enjoyable and interesting evening out should put it on their calendar.
Press photos by Dennis Glew Mambo Caliente on Touchstone Theatre's new outdoor stage.
PRESS PHOTO BY DENNIS GLEW Mambo Caliente's vocalists include (left to right) CarlosTirado, José Ortiz and Tony Colon. They are joined by percussionist Yasmin Richardson, shown here playing the guira. The band is led by pianist Jaime “Jimmy” De Jesus. On bass is Urbano “Prieto” Torres. Keith Wagner leads the band's six-member brass section. Our coverage of the event appears on pages A14 and A15.
Angie Rizzo, a volunteer at Touchstone Theatre since her days as an undergraduate at Lehigh, serves sodas to hungry boys. Foods available to guests ranged from sandwiches to full meals. Two guys digging into plates loaded with pork, beans, and potatoes had only one comment: “Delicious!”
Fidela Torres, a member of the Seniors Group at the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, models a traditional Puerto Rican gown, adding a detail from recent fashion: Shades.
Bethlehem police officers Bradley Brickman (left) and Mervinson Lopez, who were joined by several other police officersn, had a busy evening speaking with guests. Officers Brickman and Lopez came to talk with anyone who might be interested in careers in the Bethlehem Police Force.
Lucia Roman wears a beautiful rose in her hair to complement her necklace and set off the lace of her blouse.
With Mambo Caliente cooking, it was hard to stand still. Jorge Romero, Kookie Cruz and a high energy group of other seniors showed the rest of the audience how to respond to the music. Our photo coverage continues on page A15.
William Velazquez models a traditional Puerto Rican hat for men -- the first cousin, apparently, of the Mexican sombrero.
Miguel Ortiz, on guitar, sings a beautiful serenade to a loved one to the accompaniment of a second guitarist, Jose Garcia, and two percussionists, Jorge Romero (bongos) and Carmen Nieves.
With “amor” in the air, a young couple hugs and kisses in the background, smiling when they noticed that a photographer had seen them. They escaped unidentified.
Members of the Hispanic Center's seniors group enacted battles between male and female family members in Puerto Rico produced by “shooting craps” (an illegal dice game). Anna Ortiz (left) is furious that Miguel Ortiz (bent over, trying to throw the dice) won't stop gambling, and William Velasquez tries to restrain his buddy. But two other guys (Jorge Romero, foreground, and Jose Garcia, behind him) clutching dollars in their fists, cheer for Miguel to continue playing. Who will win?