Sunday, February 10, 2008

Puerto Rico: Beach at Loiza, 2004

In 2004 I had the opportunity to return to Puerto Rico after 20 years, this time with a group of people. It was a short but very intense visit, as our purpose for being there was to document the Fiesta de Santiago Apostol (Feast of St. James) in Loiza, which takes place at the end of July of each year. This research trip was part of my activity with the group Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas ("Latin American Cultural Roots"), and our purpose was to gather information that could be used to teach the dances based in Loiza to students in Philadelphia's Latino community. I had been in New Haven, Connecticut one week before to see their version of the same festival, and one of the participants in that festival also was in Loiza.

The event, which lasted six days, started with a parade through the town that started at 4:00 AM. We went to the municipal building and met some of the participants, attended religious devotions, met a visual artist at his studio, and filmed the parade that featured dancers, musicians, and floats.

The way that Loiza is designed, the beach does not seem to be the focus of activity. It seems to be more designed to face the Loiza River. As such, it is remarkable that this beach is still relatively undeveloped. There have been documentaries that have filmed performers of folk dances on the beach.

See my previous post on Loiza at

Also see my webpage on Puerto Rico at

Other websites:

Caribbean Folk Arts Network (Caribfolk) - Caribbean cultural network:

Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas (Latin American Cultural Roots) - a nonprofit organization I founded in 1991 that presents Latin American cultural shows, exhibits, and workshops:

Raicesnews - Latin cultural events in the Philadelphia area:

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