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Por la versión en español

WEPA began with the beautiful music of Ed Martinez and the ensemble Con Sabor, playing Latin jazz and salsa for an audience of approximately 150 people. Photo Credit: Alex Aldama

When you say “WEPA”, you must emphasize the “e” for as long as possible and the “a” the same way.  Say it with me: WEEEEEEEPAAAAAAAAA! It is a cry of celebration — an expression of joy, a versatile exclamation in Latin American Spanish used to express emotion, congratulations, and happiness, used mostly by the Puerto Rican community. WEEEEEEEPAAAAAAAAA!

On June 4, at the intersection of Moore and Humboldt Streets, El Puente Green Light District (GLD) and Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) threw the third WEPA pa’l Pueblo. The free family event brought art workshops and music to the plaza in front of the Moore Street Market “La Marqueta”, a food and dry goods market with space for community programming built in 1943.  The concert began with the beautiful music of Ed Martinez and the ensemble Con Sabor, playing Latin jazz and salsa for an audience of approximately 150 people.

El Puente’s (GLD) is a ten-year strategic initiative dedicated to sustaining, growing, greening, and celebrating Williamsburg’s South Side community. ALJA is a nonprofit, founded in 2007, with a mission to preserve Afro-Latin jazz music and heritage, support its performance, and educate youth in understanding this cultural treasure.

During the first set, I had the pleasure of meeting Zack O’Farill, director of educational programs for ALJA,and one of the musicians taking part in the celebration. I briefly chatted with Gloria Zelaya and Asenhat Gomez, who are both have spent 20 years working with El Puente and organized the event. They introduced me to Eugenio Maldonado, a co-founder of El Puente. 

Gina d’Soto, singer and songwriter performs at WEPA! Photo Credit: Alex Aldama

We all turned as we heard an extraordinarily beautiful voice and contagious joy emanating from the stage. Gina d’Soto, singer and songwriter, had begun her performance. In a matter of minutes, the atmosphere on the street transformed and the party kicked into higher gear. Her comfort on stage and passion are indescribable. She’s fearless and totally dedicated to her audience. The love she expresses with that mixture of jazz, soul, fusion, and traditional Cuban music is passionate. It is a resounding Bravo!

I’m from Spain and was curious where most of the crowd was from. As I chatted and got to know my neighbors, the answer was an overwhelming Puerto Rico, “Boricua!” they answer me proudly. But along the way I discovered others in the audience from Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Belize. I even met a Canadian!

Kikiriki Biquey, a Cuban rhumba group, takes the stage. Photo Credit: Alex Aldama

It is already almost 5 p.m. when Kikiriki Biquey, a Cuban rhumba group, takes the stage. Their interpretation and the lyrics of the songs with which they delight us: pure art, pure love! Near the end of his performance, one of the members of this group launches a call to support the local businesses and the neighborhood. He tells us clearly and transparently that supporting what is local is contributing to the survival of our identities.

The sky is still bright blue and inside me is joy from this gift that is music, paying unlimited tribute to this community. I think of the answers that Gloria and Asenhat have given me when I asked them: why is El Puente necessary in our neighborhood? “Because we help our community, our youth, spreading art, maintaining our essence and culture. For the service we offer to the Latino community and people of color, for our defense of our rights to remain here and our right to celebrate diversity, our art, and our culture.”  WEPA is “pa’lante”; WEPA is “alegria, bienvenida” they told me.


Author: Alex Aldama

Nací en Barcelona. Vivo en Los Sures/Williamsburg desde hace mas de veinte años. Amo mi barrio, amo mi gente y nuestra cultura tanto como amo la diversidad de esta única y maravillosa ciudad, Nueva York. En la vida hay momentos maravillosos como los hay muy difíciles y, siempre, siempre hay que recibirlos con fuerza y esperanza en el futuro. ¡No estás solo! I was born in Barcelona. I have lived in Los Sures/Williamsburg for over twenty years. I love my neighborhood, I love my people and our culture as much as I love the diversity of this unique and wonderful city, New York. In life there are wonderful moments as there are very difficult ones and, always, always you must receive them with strength and hope for the future. You're not alone!

15 thoughts

  1. This information is so educational and love all the details and it is so fun to read !! Love it! ♥️


    1. I am so glad to read your comment. Thank you so much my dear friend. I am really touched by your wonderful words!


    1. Thank you so much sister, I appreciate from the bottom of my heart and indeed and always


    1. Thank you, thank you so much. A beautiful example of a community standing together hand by hand dancing to tribute culture!!!! Diversity is best!


    1. Coming from you this is one of the best compliments i ever could dream of. Thank you so much. I appreciate it from the very bottom of my heart. Always Love!


    1. I couldn’t agree with you more on this: without Diversity nothing is as beautiful than with!!! Diversity is what makes all and each of us a unique human being and sharing it is great! Sending all my love to you and yours! Thank you!


  2. What a fantastic article . Fun to read and enlightening to learn more about my community.
    Very colorful photos too.


    1. Thank you so much, brother. I feel honored for this comment and couldn’t thank you enough for your kindness. Sending love!!!!


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