Thursday, June 3, 2010

Charlotte does the cha-cha at Azúcar

Posted By on Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Get ready to warm up those hips and keep a chilled cocktail in hand, because NoDa’s about to get caliente; Friday, June 4, the Neighborhood Theatre and the Latin American Coalition will join forces to present Azúcar, a celebration of Latin-Caribbean culture. The event serves as a fundraiser for the LAC, the oldest and largest Latino-geared organization in Charlotte.

On its website, the LAC states that it focuses on three areas: education, avocation, and celebration. Cultural events like Azúcar serve not just to entertain but also to educate Charlotteans about its burgeoning ethnic communities; in 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau cited that Latinos made up about 10.8 percent of Mecklenburg County. The majority, according to the Charlotte Center of Commerce, hails from Mexico; but those who trace their origins to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic have recently migrated to Charlotte in increasing numbers. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau also reported that Cubans and Puerto Ricans made up less than 1 percent of Charlotte’s Latino population.

This year’s census will paint a better portrait of the city’s ethnic makeup, but it’s not hard to tell that the Spanish-speaking Caribbean has exploded into the area. Many small businesses that cater to these populations — from Dominican hair salons to Cuban restaurants — now pepper the landscape and add their own flavor to Charlotte’s already savory diversity.

Azucar kicks off with free cha-cha and salsa lessons, followed by performances showcasing the rich musical heritage of the three islands. Come out and support the efforts of the LAC (as well as your truly, who will be speaking — nervously — on the behalf of the Dominican Republic).

The family-friendly event starts at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at www.latinamericancoalition.org or www.neighborhoodtheatre.com, and $15 at the door.

— Laura Camilo

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