Hola queridos! Hope all my loyal readers are ready to start the year with a big bang! This post is a recap of the last few months so that I too can start 2016 on a new chapter. I’m also contemplating going back to basics with regard to the written word (minus the laptop) but more about that project in a future post. As for now, events I’ve attended are the subject at hand, so onto the details:
FREE THE GIRLS.org: Nothing in the world beats fall fashion in New York; but in this case, with regards to new socially conscious organization, fashion is a means to combat modern day slavery. “Free the Girls” (a clever play on words) is an organization taking unwanted bras and donating them to help women in parts of the world afflicted by sex trafficking. Participants are introduced to the buying and selling of used goods. They are taught how to command top dollar for said items to support themselves and their families. I was introduced to this program by a neighbor who was kind enough to invite me to her home for a small get together. Invites to the gathering consisted of both genders of who provided a large number of donations. An overwhelming amount of bras were donated that night – and even cupcakes were on hand. “Just Jazzy Cakes 212″ provided these scrumptious cupcakes with the most adorable detail sitting atop. If you’d like to make a donation and/or learn more about freethegirls.org, click here. And for your confectionary needs, click here.
LATINAS OF THE GOLDEN ERA REVISITED: What a better way to usher in Hispanic Heritage Month than by paying homage to those who’ve paved the way. That was the drive behind Celines Toribio’s (actress, television personality and mogul) latest passion project: Maria Montez, The Movie. Maria Africa Garcia Vidal de Santo Salia (aka Maria Montez) was a Dominican motion picture actress whose exceptional beauty and talent garnered her the likes of Hollywood. She reigned supreme during the height of Technicolor and was Tinsel Town’s most revered actress starring in well over 26 films. Wanting to highlight Maria’s politicized lifestyle and pioneering moments in Hollywood, Celines sought far and wide to bring Maria’s story to the silver screen. Unfortunately, this project would be met with reservations and opposition from both Hollywood and film critics alike. Production companies were opposed to green-light the project out of fear of low-ticket sales. Critics disapproved because they couldn’t see Celines playing the role of Maria due to melanin issues. Not being one to throw in the towel so quickly, Celines ignored her naysayers and funded the project herself. She started her own production company called “Esencia Films” and was triumphant in getting theater houses across the nation to premiere the film. Celines and her production team held a press conference at uptown’s 809 Lounge explaining the struggles of filmmaking, her non-yielding spirit to bring this project to life, and her expectations for the film. We here at RBATC hope that more Latino/a aspiring filmmakers can take a note from Celines’ playbook in pursuing their dreams. “It only takes one person to impact the world.”
UFW S/S 2016: New York Fashion Week always brings a buzz of anticipation for the spring collections – and Uptown fashionistas are aiming to mirror that same sentiment. Uptown Fashion Week has had a number of shows showcasing designers in the NYC area and abroad. September’s runways show exhibited gorgeous chiffon dresses and an ethereal touch to most gowns compatible to Roman times. Menswear was just as impressive with Carlos Sierra’s designs: a contemporary interpretation of men’s suits meets jibaro chic. Aside from an exceptional show, Uptown Fashion Week decided to add extra perks by having a live webcast this year via #Periscope. The Periscope webcast transmitted a live feed of behind-the-scenes moments, (from makeup to soundcheck) backstage interviews of models and designers, and even featured highlights from the runway. How cool is that! Uptown continues to take big strides in showcasing talent from all aspects of the talent pool. Bravo mi gente, bravo.
With September we also saw the re-launch of LoLife – a men’s apparel line made popular back in the late 1980s. LoLife originated in Brooklyn as a brick and mortar with a lot of heart and drive behind its brand. LoLife has now decided to make a comeback and merge with a number of heavyweights of yesteryear (i.e. Coogi and Etonic) to offer its faithful customers premium quality goods. Their signature piece, the #Lo88s, are a collector’s item for only 88 pieces were made. If you’d like to make a purchase, click here.
Speaking of re-launches, Probus (Proto-Indo-European meaning of “being in front”) is a men’s high-end streetwear boutique with 20 years under its belt and nestled in the enclave of Washington Heights. Probus wanting to expand in space and clientele, have recently moved to the neighborhood of Inwood (north of Washington Heights.). The boutique’s customer service and ability to forecast fashion trends has garnered the attention from local artists, to heavy hitters in the music industry (i.e. Chromeo). Their re-opening featured a red carpet, photog opportunities, delectable appetizers and the pièce de résistance, Hennessy V.S. cocktails. I even ran into fellow editor and neighbor, Remezlca.com’s music editor Joel Moya. Hey parce, hey! It is sincerely #neveradullmoment.
DOMINICAN FILM FEST SCREENING OF “DOLORES DE ARENA” AT THE NYTIMES HQs: For the past four years, the Dominican Film Fest has captivated audiences from all over the city with films funded by D.R. production houses. Films selected for the festival are usually up-and-coming directors who’ve made it a point to employ a Dominican cast and crew. To kickoff this year’s festival, DDFM screened the premiere of “Dolores de Arena,” a film adaptation of the French novel titled “Les dolores des sables” written by Jean-Noel Pancrazi. The film explores the complexities of the human condition and its many forms of escapism. Our main protagonist is Dolores played by Geraldine Chaplin – if her face looks familiar, then you already know she’s one of Pedro Almodovar’s muses. Sidenote: and if her last name rings any bells, you’ve guessed correctly. Geraldine is part of the Chaplin legacy – she’s the daughter of the famous Charlie Chaplin. Geraldine plays our main protagonist Dolores, an elderly French lady with tons of family issues seeking companionship from a local prostitute named Noeli (played by Yanet Mojica). Their tumultuous relationship takes our leading lady on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The movie also serves as a catalyst to highlight the juxtaposition that exists in D.R.’s countryside versus city life. We the viewers can also see the growing number of foreigners from all over the world inhabiting D.R. with each passing year. “Dolores de Arena“ was such a hit amongst critics, that it had a second screening at the New York Times Head Quarters. Film festival’s coordinators, filmmakers and producers were in attendance for a brief Q&A. As the movie credits rolled, I noticed that “Canana Films“ was one of the film’s financial backers. Nice to see Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal investing in Latin American films of this caliber. Seeing their seal in the credits gives me hope that they’ll one day bring their coveted film festival “Ambulante“ (only taking place in LA) to New York City. *Keeping my fingers crossed*
UPTOWN’S RESTAURANT WEEK: Now who’s to say New York Restaurant Week is only limited to our downtown counterparts? Uptown is progressively changing the city’s vernacular when it comes to the culinary world. With each passing food fest, Uptown’s Restaurant Week has showcased a number of new establishments – and now as an added bonus, has sought sponsorship from big companies like Brugal. As part of their promotional campaign URW raffled a three-course meal for four guests, and guess who won? Well, I partially won. My old college chum was the winner, and of course, by association. But nonetheless, we got to experience the #WHINandDine experience du jour (WHIN is an acronym for Washington Heights and Inwood) with all expenses paid. My buddy selected the restaurant “Made In Mexico,” a new spot featuring classic Mexican dishes with a Caribbean twist. Some dishes were outstanding; others not so much. Overall everyone went home full, tipsy from the Brugal infused cocktails, and most importantly, happy. Not bad for a rainy Thursday night, am I right? Out of five stars: Service: 4.5, Food: 4.5, ambiance: 3.5. Recommendations: volume control needs serious adjustment.
ONLY IN BROOKLYN: The annual Brooklyn Book Festival caters to the readership of the city of New York. Since its inception, each year the festival has drawn out huge crowds from near and far. Readings, panel discussions and author signings are part of the festivities. This past September was my first experience at the festival and guess who I met? none other than John Leguizamo. John was in attendance promoting his newly released graphic novel; an adaptation of his stage play “Ghetto Klown.” John narrated his experiences growing up in New York City, the trails and tribulations of show business, and what he’s endured to establish his voice in the industry. He explained that had it not been for his math teacher, he wouldn’t be where he is today. John is living proof that it really can take one person to change your outlook on life. His book is currently on sale via Amazon.com. To purchase a copy, click here. And when you buy yourself a copy, tell ’em Manny Da Fanny sent cha! #MamboMouthForevah 😉
PALO SANTO: Speaking of exploring new horizons, recently I was sent an FB invite to a quaint little hole in the wall celebrating its 9-year anniversary. The restaurant is called “Palo Santo“ located in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Chef Jacques Gautier serves a daily changing menu blending Latin American and Caribbean influences with seasonal Greenmarket ingredients. The ambiance provides family style seating, so patrons are encouraged to interact; and the classic 1980’s salsa music playing in the background makes for a really cool spot for us hardcore nostalgics. Their delicious pies accompanied by rosé champagne made for an exquisite introduction to this place. I highly recommend the pecan and keylime pies, DEELISH!
VIDEOLOGY BAR AND CINEMA: Originally a DVD rental spot (before Netflix did away with all of that) now serves as a cool bar and screening room to the locals in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Videology offers a bevy of cult classics; and even premieres new sitcoms depending on the night. Great perk for film and TV aficionados like myself. The night I discovered this spot for the second time was for their Halloween special screening of “Evil Dead” and “Army of Darkness.” Movie fans were treated to popcorn and pitchers of beer. After the screening I was so enthused, I even walked the famous Billy B Bridge (aka the Williamsburg Bridge). A first for this native New Yorker, if you can believe. #OnlyInBK
EL GRAN TOUR: With the help of NYC’s Mayor’s Office and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, El Gran Tour was able to color Nueva York con su bonita bandera (pun intended). The Puerto Rican Creative Network (PRCN) are the diligent crew behind New York City’s first El Gran Tour. PRCN is an organization dedicated to seeking representation for the Puerto Rican arts community. On the day of the grand excursion, art lovers met up at the famous Metropolitan Museum for a brief introduction to the event’s purpose and itinerary: including two tours north and south of the famous museum. First tour visited East Harlem (aka El Barrio) and the Bronx; second tour visited the Lower East Side and ended at the BRIC. The tour provided breakfast, lunch (with yummy cookies included), and wine for the “after-tour” reception. Coordinators for El Gran Tour admit that it took them a little over 6 weeks to complete said mission. Having been a participant, it was impressive to see the amount of work and sponsorship they were able to allocate in such a short period of time. PRCN’s El Gran Tour plans on exploring other art mediums (i.e. culinary, movies, music, etc.) of Puerto Rican decent in the city of New York. They plan on scheduling this event on an annual basis. Can’t wait to sign up for the next one.
ADE SOKE: Ade Soke (aka Crown Up in Yoruba) is a global bass dance party with an emphasis on folkloric rhythms of the diaspora. This congregation of traditional meets contemporary is celebrated at least once a month. Hosts include two empowering female entrepreneurs: DJ Chela and Chiquita Brujita. Both ladies are powerhouses in their own right, bringing on the hypnotic tunes coupled with the art of fortune telling. Each event also features one #ladyboss as their main host – outgoing personalities to get the crowd going is a plus. Ade Soke features a laid-back ambiance to meet cool peeps while discovering sounds that wouldn’t normally get airplay, if at all. To stay in the loop for the impeding Ade Soke event, check out DJ Chela’s official FB page by clicking here. #VivaGlobalBass
TODO TIENE SU FINAL: And as we embrace the new, unfortunately we have to say goodbye to the past. With the start of this year, us uptownies have had to bid a reluctant ado to our precious local spot Apt.78. This multifaceted place played cultural hub for an entire community for the past 5 years. This gem cultivated the likes of Tony Award-winning actors, Golden Globe nominees, MacArthur Genius Grant recipients, and even Grammy Award-winning music producers. During its brief existence, it sincerely won the hearts of all its patrons. I can’t tell you the number of events attended that turned random strangers into lifelong friends. This establishment (much like the show Cheers) was not merely a bar/lounge; it was a place we all called home. It will sorely be missed. #ALLThisLoveIsWaiting4U #LongLiveApt78
And with that, my dear readers, RBATC closes out another year. With this fresh new start, we embrace a new chapter itching to be written. And like my mama always says, “borrón y cuenta nueva.” Can’t wait to put pen to paper again but till then, se me cuidan. Y hasta la proxima mi gente.