Things That Matter

Uno-dos-tres, 13 Latin Rhythms That Make Us Bust A Move!

Most stereotypes about Latin American culture tend to be hurtful. We are not lazy, promiscuous or a bunch of free-loaders (quite the contrary: we are hard-working, committed and believe in a fair go for everyone). However, there is a stereotype that is kinda true and certainly amazing: most of us love to hit the dance floor!

Music is essential to Latin American culture and is one of our main cultural exports (just look at Ben Stiller on the above image!). The origin of some of our rhythms are quite interesting. Read the juicy details below and surprise your primos in the next family party. 

1. Salsa

Credit: 8.jpg. Digital image. Latino life.


Like many music genres salsa is a hybrid. Salsa was popularized by Cubans and Puerto Ricans in 1960s New York, who fused Cuban son with popular rhythms like swing. The rest is history. The sinuous moves and catchy songs (based, like soul, on repetition) spread like sunshine in the whole American continent.

You gotta listen to: Rubén Blades (but of course)

Credit: ruben-blades-salsa-768×432. Digital image. Sounds and colours.


We hate to be a bit cliché here, but no one better than the Panamanian salsa master to be the ambassador of this music. His love for culture and music is eternal. 

2. Mambo

Credit: West Side Story. Seven Arts Productions.


Its origin dates to the early twentieth century, when son and danzón Cuban masters started to speed up the tempo and delve into African music territory. Where danzón ends and mambo begins is unclear…. 

You gotta listen to: Dámaso Pérez Prado

Credit: p04xg66j. Digital image. BBC.


1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 maaaaambo. The Cuban from Matanzas was the original Maestro del mambo and revolutionized this music genre by incorporating big band style ensembles. He made his career in Mexico, where he was a common feature in films and popular culture.

3. Lambada

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.


This is the infamous dance that made thousands of abuelitas cross themselves in the 80s and 90s and proclaim “Jesucristo Salvador!”. This dance has an African origin and was popularized in Brazil. It is a bothered and sweaty joining of bodies. The word means “strong slap” in Portuguese.

You gotta listen to: Aurino Quirino Gonçalves a.k.a Pinduca

Credit: 0306va03pind1. Digital image. O POVO Online.


He is the father of lambada and his quick rhythms popularized the genre even if other groups mixed it with…

4. Bachata

Credit: Tenor. Anonymous.


This type of music originated in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation where Spanish, indigenous and African rhythms collide. Bachata is slow and suave, a mix of son and traditional boleros, romantic songs generally accompanied by guitars. The dance is slow and up close. Sabor! 

You gotta listen to: Prince Royce

Bachata has become a source of identity for Hispanos in the East Coast, where the rhythm is hugely popular. This boy from The Bronx (represent!) is a proud representative of mainstream Latino culture. 

5. Banda

Credit: Rudo y cursi. Warner.


Originally for norther Mexico, this music makes us think of deserts, cowboy hats and boots. However, its origins are quite interesting and actually European. If you listen closely, you will realize that it is very similar to polka! Yes, the music imported by German migrants who made this region of Mexico lindo y querido their home. 

You gotta listen to: Intocable

Credit: IntocableHighway-1500×1000. Digital image. Grupo Intocable.


The Mexican-American band is simply amazing: their lyrics are melancholic and their music is pure kitschy delight. Best of all, you can share it with your amá, tías and abuelas in the upcoming family posadas.

6. Ranchera

Credit: Tenor. @j_m_19


Originally Mexican of course. Ranchera music emerged from the ashes of the Mexican Revolution and was the cornerstone of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, where figures such as Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete became idols. The music touches on the universal themes of loss, rural life and love. Ay, ay, ay. 

You gotta listen to: Chavela Vargas

Credit: Giphy. @remezcla


A Costa Rican dynamo who became a symbol of queerness in a male dominated world. La Vargas could outdrink the most macho mariachis and legend has it that she bedded some Hollywood starlets. She was a true legend. She continued performing well into her old age. 

7. Corridos

Credit: Giphy. @CorridosMX


During and after the Mexican revolution, corrido singers composed troubadour-style songs in which they told the stories of robbers and soldiers. In recent times, corrido singers have used the drug cartels and dealers as their main source of inspiration, which has led some states like Chihuahua to forbid narcocorridos. This is a huge industry in the United States as well. 

You gotta listen to: Los Tigres del Norte

Credit: Tenor. @AntonioLopezGC


This legendary band has been involved in controversies due to the way they seem to glorify narco culture. They have sung about lost love among smugglers, criminal masterminds and Mexican identity. Their accordion and catchy lyrics will such have you dancing. Una camioneta gris, con placas de California

8. Merengue

Credit: vicini-merengue-identity-and-magic. Digital image. folkdancesdr.com


This rhythm is synonym of the Dominican Republic. When it became popular in the 19th century newspapers described it as a threat to high moral standards. Later dictator Victor Trujillo made it the national music and dance of the country. It is happy, fast and catchy as hell. 

You gotta listen to: Juan Luis Guerra

Credit: Tenor. Anonymous.


This amazing musician is simply the ambassador of merengue. His “Bilirrubina” spread all throughout the continent like a happy virus and he has remained at the top for three decades. Sing with me: qusiera ser un pez

9. Cumbia

Credit: Cumbia-2WEB. Digital image. Making Music Magazine.


Its origin is Colombian of course. Like most genres, it is a mix product of processes of colonization. It was originally a courtship dance among indigenous groups, but when it came face to face with African and European rhythms  and instruments such as drums, magic happened.

You gotta listen to: Celso Piña, El maestro del acordeón

Credit: celso-pina-oakland-2. Digital Image. Latin Bay Area.


Colombian cumbia has become popular the world over, and Monterrey, in northern México, is one of the epicenters of cumbia culture. Celso Piña is a master accordion player who has toured the world making gringos, europeans and la raza dance.

10. Tango

Credit: Giphy. @sonymusiccolombia


Tango is the epitome of South American sensuality. Cultivated mainly in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires and the Uruguayan Montevideo, this music’s popularity is credited to the great Carlos Gardel, who was in fact born in Tolouse, France. Story goes that the accordions that were used in churches in Germany found their way to bars and brothels in Argentina, where musicians experimented with their high pitch and sustained melancholic notes. 

You gotta listen to: Astor Piazolla

Credit: homenaje-a-astor-piazzolla-en-el-cck-03-695×477. Digital image. Saddler Wells’ Blog.


Sure, Carlos Gardel is the go to classic, but Piazzolla wrote sexy classics in his own right with a much more contemporary sensibility. Find him on Spotify, make yourself some mate tea and relax. 

11. Reggaeton

Credit: Giphy. @am85


Vilified by some due to its often aggressive misogynist lyrics, reggaeton comes out of Puerto Rico. It is a mix of Latin music, hip hop and genres such as reggae (that’s where its name comes from, actually). This rhythm has become perhaps the most popular in the world, even outside Latin America. 

You gotta listen to: Calle 13

The duo from Puerto Rico is as sabroso as it gets, but can also be politically assertive. Even though they know how to set the dance floor on fire they can also sing about migrant rights, US interventionism and boricua identity.

12. Samba

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous


Images of the Rio Carnival in Brazil come to mind. Thousands of people moving their hips to the sound of drums. Samba originates from the forced and illegal migration of African individuals who were sold as slaves. The music originates from current-day Angola and Congo. 

You gotta listen to: Carmen Miranda

Credit: Giphy. @boomunderground

Oldie but goodie Carmen Miranda is perhaps not the best samba singer and dancer, but she had a key role in spreading this rhythm beyond Brazil by migrating to Broadway and Hollywood and becoming one of the first latino icons of US popular culture. 

13. Bossa Nova

Credit: 790248030623. Digital image. Putumayo Music.


This very slow and sensual rhythm became popular in Brazil in the 1960s. It uses instruments such as acoustic guitar, electrical guitar and piano not generally associated with Latin music. Its perfect for slow dancing and relaxing. 

You gotta listen to: Caetano Veloso

Credit: Tenor. Anonymous.


The Brazilian classic singer has a voice that sounds like a smooth piña colada on a steamy Río afternoon. Just so sensual and lush. 

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Things That Matter

Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Last week, Mexican feminist activists took over the National Human Rights Commissions federal building in a move to bring greater awareness to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that has racked Mexico for decades.

According to the federal Interior Secretariat, the statistics in Mexico have recently taken a turn for the worse.

Domestic violence against women has became an even more acute problem since the pandemic has forced women to stay insider with their abusers. Emergency distress calls reporting domestic violence have risen by 50%.

The occupation of the Human Rights building is just another chapter in the saga of the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More Woman) movement, an anti-femicide collective born in Argentina that has steadily been gaining steam in Mexico since 2019.

In recent years, anti-femicide demonstrations have been sparked by various heinous crimes against women or girls that have been largely overlooked by law enforcement officials. 

Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the government of Mexico has appeared to be apathetic to the wave of femicide that is overwhelming the women of their country.

Recently, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked to address Mexico’s gender violence epidemic, he demurred, stating that he didn’t “want femicide to detract” from the raffle his administration was holding for the sale of the presidential airplane.

As for the feminist activists at the heart of Ni Una Menos and the federal building occupation, the government’s failure to respond to anti-woman violence is the primary fuel for their anger. 

“We’re here so that the whole world will know that in Mexico they kill women and nobody does anything about it,” said Yesenia Zamudio to the LA Times. According to Zamudio, she is still seeking justice for the murder of her 19-year-old daughter four years ago.

The women of Mexico appear to be fed up, grasping at any and all tactics that have the potential to incite change on a grander scale.

Their tactics may seem dramatic to some, but it’s undeniable that they are no longer being ignored. As of now, the radical activists are pulling attention-grabbing stunts like decorating a portrait of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero with lipstick and purple hair.

They’re also making headlines for vandalizing the federal building’s walls and splashing paint on the doors of the presidential palace.

One thing is for sure: something has to change. Otherwise, thousands of innocent women and girls will continue to be raped, abused, and murdered while their perpetrators escape with immunity. 

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

Chip Somodevilla / Gettycc

After weeks of speculation and anticipation, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has officially picked his running mate.

In a history-making announcement, Biden revealed that he had tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his VP Pick.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden announced in a tweet.

On Wednesday, Biden held his first campaign event alongside running mate Kamala Harris in Delaware.

During their speeches, the two candidates wore masks and kept their distance in keeping with COVID-19 standards.

Speaking about his VP pick, Biden described Harris as coming from an “America’s story.” Biden described Harris as “a child of immigrants” who “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America,” he explained. “And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents.”

In a speech of her own, Harris emphasized the importance of family and urged citizens to vote.  “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be,” she said. “Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great. But ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most.”

Harris’s nomination makes her the first Black and first Indian-American woman on either major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris is a former prosecutor from California who challenged Biden in her own presidential bid last year. Her nomination makes her the fourth woman to appear on a major presidential ballot. Before her, Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984. In 2008, Republican Sarah Palin ran as a vice presidential nominee, later in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden’s choice was one that has long been in the works. In March of this year, he revealed that he would make a point to have a woman as his running mate and in July he announced that he had narrowed his picks down to four Black women.

Kamala Harris was elected to Congress in 2016.

This has been Harris’ first term as a senator. Before, she served as the California attorney general. During her time as AG, Harris formed a lasting friendship with Biden’s late son Beau who was attorney general at the time in Delaware. Writing about Beau’s death, in her memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris recalled that “there were periods when I was taking the heat when Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” she wrote in her memoir. “We had each other’s backs.”

Biden’s son Beau died in 2015 from brain cancer. Harris attended his funeral.

During his announcement, Biden mentioned Harris’ friendship with his son.

“I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” Biden tweeted. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

So far, it seems there are quite a bit of Harris x Biden supporters.

Fans were quick to give their support and applaud her candidacy.

In a tweet acknowledging her nomination, Harris wrote “@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

Here’s to 2020 y’all. Get ready to make history.

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