I’ve been “on sabbatical” (as my dad not-so-lovingly phrased it) since graduating and have been trying to use some of my spare time to better our community that I love so very much. I thought about the things that I love about this place and instantly thought of ¡Globalquerque!. ¡Globalquerque! is an annual music festival housed at the National Hispanic Cultural Center that features three stages of live music from around the world and is, quite honestly, my favorite event. We went a few years back because Lila Downs was headlining the event and had such an amazing time that we vowed to always go. Really, I usually only know of like a band, maybe two, but I find that every year we discover new amazingly talented folks and learn something new about cultures and regions of the world. Not to mention a night filled with amazing food, dancing and beautiful voices and melodies. Point is, you don’t have to be a global music lover to fall in love with ¡Globalquerque! It’s an event that can only be experienced—it’s hard to explain—and quite frankly I have no idea how the organizers manage to put together such a stellar event that always outdoes itself. Anyway, I asked Neal Copperman, co-founder of ¡Globalquerque! and Executive Director of AMP Concerts (and all around nice guy), if he needed help with the festival and he mentioned that they have a free kids day on the Friday of ¡Globalquerque! (today).
I’d never heard of this before. I’d actually not heard of many of the free community events AMP hosts throughout the year. For them, it’s not just about bringing new voices to our city and state, but rather about engaging the community. As many art and music programs have been cut from schools, one of the main focuses of ¡Globalquerque’s! community outreach is to bring kids to the music. How amazingly cool is that? Thanks to a partnership with the Education Department of the NHCC, kids from around the city get to go to a concert for free and learn a bit about different cultures that they may normally not be exposed to. This year featured the beautiful tunes of Zeb and Haniya from Pakistan as well as the high-energy talents of Ozomatli from Los Angeles. The event grew to such a size that they had to move it from the inside auditorium outside to the Plaza Mayor. And when I say the event grew, I mean, around 1,800 students of all ages arrived. The stairs and plaza were both full of happy, excited students.
Zeb and Haniya opened up their set by asking how many students had heard of their country. They were amazed (as was I) at how many little hands shot in the air. I looked around me to see that hundreds of kids proudly signaled that they knew. I guarantee you that in elementary school I would have been lucky if I could identify pretty much anything on a global map. Impressive. Then the music and fun started. You know how some people talk about going places just to people watch? Well, I’m not one of those people, but kid watching is just something to behold. I haven’t spent much of my life around kids—really since I was one myself—so it was just amazing to me to see how they just let loose and dance with each other, parents, teachers, whoever! They played a few songs and the kids danced around and were really receptive to the experience.
After a quick bathroom break for all, Ozomatli took the stage to chants of “Ozo! Ozo! Ozo!”—most of the kids knew where they were from too and some even knew their music already. I, personally, spent my time dancing around (kids stared—I think adult watching was equally entertaining for them), but I saw a lot of phones out, so maybe a search on youtube will reveal a few good clips later. Again, I can’t really describe just how cool/great of an event this was—kids dancing, Ozo dancing, experiencing all the different forms of music that take on a life of their own. I recommend that you take some time this weekend to check out something. Both of these phenomenal performers are playing tonight at ¡Globalquerque! between 6 and midnight(ish).
Here’s my big advice though. Say you’re a big Ozomatli fan, but haven’t heard of anyone else. DO NOT just go to see Ozo—show up early! I guarantee that you’ll have a blast. That you’ll find new music to fall in love with. That you’ll be a die-hard as well. That’s like going to Lollapalooza or SXSW or any other music festival to see one band and then leaving. Lame. If you’re also on “sabbatical” and funds are a bit tight, never fear! Tomorrow (Saturday, September 22) ¡Globalquerque! hosts the Global Village at the NHCC from 10:30-4 with free music, workshops, art & crafts—all sorts of new things to explore. But most of all, just get out and enjoy some of the amazing local events going on this weekend (like the Carnuel Road Parade—which I’m totally going to have to check out)!