Let’s Keep The Love For The Buena Vista Social Club Going Forever Because They Are True Icons


Alright, fam. Our parents’ generation was hella into The Buena Vista Social Club. They’re Cuban. That’s all I really knew. Maybe that makes me a bobo or maybe every other 20-something is just as clueless about this group.

What I learned is that they are a legacy of viejos that actually remember what Afro-Cubano music was like in the homeland before the revolution. They’re keeping it alive and we should, too. Here is everything your mother expects to know about The Buena Vista Social Club.

The Buena Vista Social Club started out in the 1940s as a result of racial discrimination.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Cuba’s socializing back then took place at “social clubs” which were institutionally segregated by skin color. The Buena Vista Social Club was a social hub for Afro-Cuban musicians and performers that kept it’s niche musical styles alive.

This is the original building, now abandoned.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Wikipedia. 11 October 2018.

It was founded in 1932 in Marianao, Havana and was wildly known as a cabildo, a legacy from slavery. During the 19th century, African slaves organized fraternities, i.e. cabildos. Back then, there were cabildos for cigar wrappers, one for baseball players, and even one for doctors and engineers. The BVSC was for musicians.

After the Revolution, all cabildos were shut down.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

When President Manuel Urratia Lleó was elected in 1959, he tried to build a classless and color blind society, and closed down cultural centers as an effort to integrate society. The new administration went on to favor the emergence of pop and salsa music.

Viejos went out of work while young artists started to flourish with a new wave of 1960’s Cuban music.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

It seemed as if this traditional Cuban son music was dying, and the African influences of Cuban music would be gone forever. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Thirty years later, American guitarist Ry Cooder and British producer Nick Gold revived the BVSC.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Gold invited Cooder to Havana in 1996 to record a session with Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and African musicians from Mali, who last minute were not able to secure visas to visit. That was when they decided to record Cuban son.

Within three days, they gathered the 20 or so musicians that would make up The Buena Vista Social Club.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Already on board was guitarist Eliades Ochoa (pictured above), bassist Orlando “Cachaíto” López and González. Eventually, they found a pianist named Rubén González (who was in his 80s at the time) and Manuel “Puntillita” Licea.

Their only album was recorded in just six days.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

The album is made up of fourteen tracks. It opens with “Chan Chan,” which would become what Cooder would later describe as Buena Vista’s calling card, and ending with “La Bayamesa.” These fourteen songs are just the start of BVSC’s legacy.

Nobody expected how big BVSC would get.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

The album was released on September 17, 1997 as a CD and quickly became a word of mouth hit. Rolling Stone listed it as No. 260 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.

It sold more than 1 million copies and won a Grammy.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

I know, now, why the moms love this story. First, their music is good. You must listen to the album start to finish. Segundo, this gives us all hope that no matter how old we are, the best could still be yet to come.

They went on to perform in Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

For most of the members, going on tour was the first time they ever left the island, and these are all viejos we’re talking about here.

Even before they blew up, Cooder started working on getting a documentary production together to record their stories.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

At the same time Cooder was working on producing the album after recording, he started working with a German film director, Wim Wenders. The documentary, “The Buena Vista Social Club,” shows the faces of each of the members as they see NYC for the first time. It’s incredible.

Meet the band, one by one.

Ibrahim Ferrer

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

The lead singer of BVSC was born in an actual social club dance in Santiago in 1927. Ferrer spent his whole life performing sets with various different bands, including legendary Beny Moré. By the time producer Juan de Marcos González found him taking his daily walk, he was living in a decaying apartment in Old Havana, occasionally shining shoes to make ends meet.

Rúben González

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

González has been a master pianist since he was a young kid. He went to medical school in the hopes of becoming a doctor by day and pianist by night but couldn’t spend that much time away from the piano. He was in a few different bands and was happy with his quiet life of semi-retirement. Allegedly, Juan de Marcos González had to drag him to the studios.

 Ruben had a successful solo career after BVSC.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Immediately after recording BVSC, he started recording “Introducing…Rubén González.” It took him two days with no overdubs and Cooder released it all at the same time as BVSC. He famously told The Telegraph, “If I can’t take a piano with me to heaven, then I don’t want to go.”

Omara Portuondo


The only woman in the entire band, Omara is a legend who went on to drop her own solo albums. The story goes that her mother was born into a rich Spanish family and eloped with an Afro-Cuban baseball player. Her and her sisters were famous for their quartet in Havana. Her sister went into exile in the U.S., while Omara stayed and was coincidentally recording at the same studio as BVSC when Cooder snagged her for the project.

She still performs in Havana.

Compay Segundo

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Compay Segundo, born as Francisco Repilado Muñoz Telles, was born in 1907 and lived until he was 96 years old. As a young boy, he made a living in the tobacco fields and cutting hair but by 15 years old, he wrote his first song, “Yo bengo aquí.” He even invented his own instrument, the armónico. He played in his 1950’s formed band “Compay Segundo y su Muchachos” until he died.

Pio Levya

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Leyva was born great. When he was 6 years old, he won a bongo contest and wrote over 25 albums before ever partnering with BVSC. He actually was a muchacho de Compay Segundo.

Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Miribal learned the trumpet on his father’s knee. He was in several different famous jazz bands and orchestras before getting with the BVSC, which took him farther than imaginable.

Eliades Ochoa

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

Guitarist and vocalist, Ochoa, started playing when he was just 6 years old and by his early teens, he was playing in the “underground” circuit. In 1978, he actually took over Cuarteto Patria, which had been around since 1940 and brought them to international famedom and tours.

He vowed to wear the cowboy hat to pay tribute to his campo roots.

Viva The Buena Vista Social Club.

CREDIT: Untitled. Buena Vista Social Club. 11 October 2018.

The thought of losing a musical tradition that comes from strong Afro-Latinx roots and has fought to stay alive under political and fiscal duress is unacceptable. While those that are still alive in the BVSC made their “Adios” tour, I hope you’ll vow with me to say the same thing to our kids, “No, pero no te sabes just how maravillosa The Buena Vista Social Club really was, dime.”

READ: If You’re Into Rock Music, These Latino Bands Are Essential Additions To Your Playlist

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!

The Woman Who Killed Selena Is Demanding A New Trial

Things That Matter

The Woman Who Killed Selena Is Demanding A New Trial

Yolanda Saldívar, the woman convicted of killing the iconic singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, is demanding a new trial. In an exclusive interview with Radar Online, the late “reina de Tejano music’s” former fan club president alleges there is evidence that could free her from her lifetime sentence for the 1995 murder.

Saldívar claims that the prosecutor in her case, Carlos Valdez, has been holding exculpatory material evidence.

According to Saldívar, it is proof that is favorable to the defendant and shows that Valdez did not disclose to the defense or the jury in the trial for Selena’s 1995 murder more than two decades ago. She says that Valdez discussed the alleged evidence, a pair of high top white Reebok sneakers and a black baseball cap, during an interview with Spanish-language media.

“The Petitioner paraphrases Mr. Valdez’s media interview where he stated that he and the defense counsel, the late Mr. Douglas Tinker, discussed what [evidence] would or would not be introduced to the jury,” reads court paperwork of a Second Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Saldívar on March 28, 2019.

“How could this be? It is the jury, no less, that would decide the fate of the Petitioner, between [life] in prison and [freedom]. The jury, NOT the defense or the prosecutor is the trier of fact of all relevant material evidence and they alone should and DID determine between conviction and acquittal,” she writes.

In layman terms, Saldívar contends that allegedly relevant evidence in her case wasn’t presented to the jury.

This information is obligatory, and suggests that leaving out the information was “a nefarious attempt to obscure a verdict against the Petitioner.” According to her, including the hat and shoes in the evidence could impact the case against her.

In the interview, Valdez passively says that Saldívar was wearing the bloody hat and sneakers. He attests that Saldívar stepped in Selena’s trail of blood as she followed the late singer running for her life. However, Saldívar, who claimed the shooting was accidental, asked that if the shoes and bloodstains on them could prove she committed the crime, then why did the prosecution exclude them as evidence.

“The prosecutor, Mr. Valdez, presented evidence of the trail of blood he states the victim left behind as she ran 130 yards (390 feet) from the room to the front lobby of the motel,” the court papers read. “The ‘withholding’ of the victim’s shoes (i.e. White Reebok Tennis Shoes) are of a great consequence because if it is as Mr. Valdez claimed in his March 16, 2018 interview that the Petitioner ‘stepped’ on victim’s blood as she followed the victim, then ‘intent’ would have been proven or disproven. For 23 years, the jury nor the defense knew that such shoes existed.” 

She continued, saying she had “no doubt” the prosecutor “impaired the verity of the evidence by not only withholding the evidence but claiming that those tennis shoes belonged to the defendant, inciting and infecting the public’s sediment even more against the Petitioner before, during and now with his recent media interview.”

Saldívar went as far as accusing Valdez of knowing “those tennis shoes belonged to the victim” and said “withholding them helped get the conviction of the Petitioner practicing a travesty of justice to the rule of law and violating the constitutional rights of the Petitioner.”

Despite her demands, however, Saldívar’s case was dismissed without prejudice because the Petitioner filed the petition in district court and must seek permission from the Fifth Circuit.

Saldívar, a former nurse, founded Selena’s fan club in San Antonio. She became the club’s president and was later also promoted to manager of the late artist’s clothing boutiques, Selena, Etc. 

In 1995, six years after Saldívar had started the club, Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, was receiving complaints from fans that they weren’t receiving their paid items and heard rumors from fellow employees that Saldívar had been embezzling money from both the fan club and the boutiques. As a result, Saldívar was fired. 

On March 31 of the same year, Selena met with Saldívar at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi to retrieve financial records Saldívar had been refusing to give to the Quintanilla family. While the “Como La Flor” singer was leaving the motel room, Saldívar shot her in the back, severing an artery. Selena, in critical condition, ran toward the motel lobby. Before collapsing, an employee claims the songstress named Saldívar as her shooter.

Selena was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. 

At the time, she was 23 years old. Soon after, at the Days Inn, Saldívar was in a nine-hour-long standoff with the police, calling the shooting an accident and threatening to kill herself before she was arrested.

On October 23, 1995, jurors found Saldívar guilty of first-degree murder. Three days later, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole in 30 years — the maximum prison term in Texas at the time. She is currently serving her time at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas. She will become eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.

Read: Netflix Officially Cast The Role Of Selena Quintanilla And ‘Twilight’ Fans Will Be Thrilled

A Latina Shared A Photo Of Her Taylor Swift ‘Love Story’ Quinceañera Dress And It’s The Dorkiest Thing


A Latina Shared A Photo Of Her Taylor Swift ‘Love Story’ Quinceañera Dress And It’s The Dorkiest Thing

Everyone remembers what it was like to be a teenage girl: the agony and ecstasy of thinking everything was permanent and the biggest deal in the world. Every crush was the only guy you’d ever love. Every song was the best song ever written. That’s why Taylor Swift’s style of songwriting is perfect for teenage girls’ psyches. Swift’s songs paint the world in black and white, good and bad, love and hate. 

Not to mention, they’re catchy AF. 

One Latina, in particular, seemed to be affected more than the average girl by the fairytale nature of Taylor Swift songs. 

Swift-stan Paola Andrea (who goes by the name of @goodgirlfaith13 on Twitter) is a superfan that puts everyone else to shame. The Orlando-based Latina not only has an Etsy shop called Stitch It Up by Paola in which she sells stickers and other crafts dedicated to T-Swift fandom, but she also runs a Tumblr blog dedicated to Swift and her artistic genius. 

And Andrea’s devotion to Swift runs deep: on her Twitter page, she revealed that she dedicated her entire quinceañera party to a single Taylor Swift song.

Andrea explained that when she turned fifteen, she convinced her parents to let the theme for her quinceañera be Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” music video. For those of you who forget, the video features a teenaged Taylor Swift, dressed up in intricate ballgowns, waltzing with a hot male model who looks to be dressed up as  Mr. Darcy. The video flashes between Taylor daydreaming on her highschool quad and singing from the top of an isolated tower. So, yeah–you could call the video “a mood”. Naturally, Andrea shared an adorable #TBT photo of herself dressed in a ballgown identical to Swift’s costume in the music video.

But when we think about it deeper, this quinceañera theme makes complete sense. Taylor Swift songs ruminate on true love, innocence, fairy tale endings, and the sting of growing pains. What could be more perfect for a celebration of a young woman’s coming-of-age?

In the caption, Andrea shares that she was “so obsessed with the Love Story music video” that she “chose it as a theme for [her] quinceañera”. 

It all makes sense, actually. Taylor Swift’s songs are tailor-made for 15-year-old girls with a princess complex. In Swift’s “Love Story” music video, she channels a princess trapped in a tower in a long, flowing gown. Naturally, she’s waiting for her Prince Charming to come and save her (as every 15-year-old girl with a pulse is doing too). Thankfully, Taylor Swift’s songwriting has evolved since then and she no longer identifies with the “damsel in distress” narrative. Still, this young Latina’s commitment to her fandom is quite inspiring. 

In that same vein, Paola Andrea isn’t the only Latina who used her quinceañera as an opportunity to stan a favorite piece of pop culture.

Twitter, as well as the rest of the internet, is full of Latinas sharing hilarious #TBTs of the unique themes of their quinceañeras.

This girl shared photos of her “Beauty and the Beast”-themed quince:


Back in 2017  when the Emma Watson-starring “Beauty and the Beast” Disney remake was dominating the box office, 15-year-old girls everywhere were snatching up yellow ballgowns en masse at the nearest mall. Who doesn’t want to be a princess who’s both beautiful and smart? We could take or leave The Beast, however.

This “Harry Potter” fan who convinced her entire Quince party to dress in Hogwarts-style house robes:

TANIA MEZA via Youtube

If you see the video from this Latina’s quinceañera, you’ll see that this birthday girl went all-out on her chosen theme. Not only was the entire quince venue decked-out to resemble the Hogwart’s dining hall, but every dinner plate came with a wand and a golden snitch. Not to mention. the guest of honor also had her face photo-shopped onto the movie posters. Now that’s dedication. 

The Latina who loved “The Phantom of The Opera” enough to dedicate a milestone birthday to it:


Cleverly enough, this quince was held at a theater. We hope there was no actual phantom waiting in the wings to crash the party.

And last but not least, this Birthday Girl who proved what real love is by devoting her entire Quinceañera theme to the cult-favorite fast-food restaurant, “Whataburger”


This Chicana’s Quinceañera theme was so iconic that Whataburger apparently reached out to her directly to thank her and sent her a gift in the mail as thanks for her loyalty! We don’t know about you, but our madres would’ve whooped our behind if we tried to eat a burger like that in our brand-new quince dress. 

Here’s to all the young Latinas who march to the beat of their own drum! May your quince themes always reflect your unique personalities!