Candombe Comes to Queens

Candombe drummers in Long Island City, QueensWhen a friend of mine from Uruguay mentioned on social media that he was not only in the country, but performing in my borough, I had to check it out. Little did I know that my friend, candombe drummer and music historian Tatita Marquez, would be just one part of last night’s festivities at Long Island City’s newly-opened Paper Factory Hotel to celebrate the birthday of the hotel’s owner, Gal Sela.

As if to underscore the magnitude of the celebration, the candombe drumming didn’t even begin inside the swanky hotel itself, but on 37th Avenue, right outside the hotel. This was not some provocative maneuver. As I narrated in a piece I wrote for Perceptive Travel a few years back, groups of candombe drum players, or cuerdas, are frequently seen and heard in the streets of Montevideo and other Uruguayan cities. Tatita and crew treated us to a Uruguayan experience, right here in Queens.

Candombe drumming in Long Island City, QueensThe street sign for 37th Avenue is visible above, in case you might be thinking that this happened on Calle Isla de Flores in Montevideo. Also, the cuerdas in Montevideo usually consist of many more than six drummers. Check out A Dialog of Echoes in Uruguay for more background and pictures from Montevideo.

Blue bird fire dancer at the Paper Factory Hotel.And here is a sampling of the other acts, starting with a roof-top fire dancer. By roof, I mean a roof of an old Blue Bird school bus.

Finger painter at the Paper Factory Hotel.A finger painter.

The High and Mighty Brass Band at the Paper Factory Hotel, July 31, 2014.The courtyard was also treated to a set of New Orleans-influenced tunes from a stripped-down lineup of the High and Mighty Brass Band (from Brooklyn).

Bus top hip-hopBus top hip-hop meets A Clockwork Orange. I think.

Tatita Marquez and Darrin DuFord at the Paper Factory Hotel.Tatita and I.

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About OmnivorousTraveler

Darrin DuFord is a travel writer, mapgazer, and jungle rodent connoisseur. His writing has won numerous awards and has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Travel, Gastronomica, Roads & Kingdoms, Narratively, and Perceptive Travel, among other publications. He is the author of Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns and Revelations in the Americas (released in July 2016) and Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car, silver medalist in the 2007 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards.
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One Response to Candombe Comes to Queens

  1. meme says:

    Votre Maman aime le picture de vous et Tatita!

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