National Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 15-Oct. 15 each year, commemorates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. This year’s theme is “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation.”
The celebration begins each year on Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also observe their independence days during this period.
Here’s how you can celebrate this rich tradition, history and culture in Denver.
Lowrider Culture Art Exhibition (September)
CHAC Gallery & Cultural Center was founded in 1978 as a place where Chicano/Latino artists are provided with a venue to explore visual and performance art and promote and preserve Chicano/Latino culture through the arts. A new location debuted on Santa Fe Drive last year and serves as the backdrop for a September 2019 exhibition dedicated to the lowrider culture and the Chicano lifestyle through cars, style and art.
1840s Rendezvous & Spanish Colonial Art Market (Sept. 14-15)
The Tesoro Cultural Center (tesoro means treasure in Spanish) hosts events that are inspired by Colorado’s rich history and shared experiences with Southwest, Spanish, Mexican, Native American, African-American and early European cultures. During the 1840s Rendezvous & Spanish Colonial Art Market at The Fort Restaurant in Morrison, there will be at least 15 artists from Colorado and New Mexico taking part. Among the many activities planned are storytelling, music, lectures, documentary films, demonstrations and hands-on activities for all ages, including a scavenger hunt for children. Hours for both days are 10 a.m.–4p.m.
For the History Colorado Center, it’s the Year of La Chicana to celebrate and honor La Chicana past, present and future, and to share her story with a wide range of audiences. In collaboration with the El Movimiento Community Advisory Committee, History Colorado is aiming to connect the core issues of the Chicano movement with present-day issues of social justice, identity and inclusion. The following three events take place around National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Chicano Mural Tour (Sept. 14)
History Colorado has several events happening in tandem with “The Year of La Chicana” beginning on Sept. 14 with a tour of Chicano murals in Denver. There will be a guided tour in Spanish only from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Year of La Chicana Opening Reception (Sept. 21)
The opening reception celebrates and honors La Chicana at History Colorado Center from 5:30-8 p.m. The event will tell the story of Chicana activism in Colorado through speakers who embody the ethos of La Chicana. A partnership with Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center will result in the sharing of Chicana’s struggle for justice, and Chicana artist-in-residence Arlette Lucero’s work depicting three Chicana activities will be unveiled along with a community-based collage of a myriad of Chicanas to provide opportunities for story sharing and connection. A catered reception, music and more also are on tap for the evening. An RSVP is required by Sept. 7.
Chicano Murals Conference (Oct. 19)
The mission of the conference is to protect and preserve the Chicano/a murals of Colorado. The symposium runs from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. at History Colorado Center
and is open to the public, including college and high school students. There is no charge to attend the conference, which is a partnership effort with Denver Arts & Venues.
Hispanic Firefighters of the Denver Fire Department (Sept. 15-ongoing)
The Denver Firefighters Museum opened in 1980 and salutes the rich history of the Denver Fire Department. Hispanic firefighters and their contributions are being honored with a permanent case display located on the first floor that is being introduced on Sept. 15.
Mexico in a Bottle (Sept. 15)
Mexico in a Bottle debuts in Denver on Sept. 15 from 4-7 p.m. at Finn's Manor to celebrate Mexican craft spirits, food, art and music on Mexican Independence Day.
What began as a tribute to mezcal, Mexico in a Bottle has evolved into showcasing the growing craft beverage scene in Mexico. However, the story of mezcal and these other elixirs isn’t just about alcohol; each bottle contains a piece of Mexican culture and is a living link to history, tradition, art and music. In addition to more than 100 mezcals and agave spirits, there will be a variety of other beverages that showcase Mexico's traditions and 21st-century innovations, including Mexican wines, craft beers and a few surprises. Attendees must be age 21 or over, and a paid ticket is required.
Biennial of the Americas (Sept. 25-28)
This four-day festival focuses on the art, music, culture and thought-leadership that unify North and South America and happens every two years in Denver. The gathering aims to convene and connect leaders from various sectors to help make solutions to shared challenges a reality. The idea behind Biennial of Americas was formed around the concept that the North-South axis across the Americas is a vast and largely untapped resource for business, cultural and social opportunities. This is the only festival in the world focused exclusively on the Americas and takes place in downtown Denver at the McNichols Building and Civic Center Park.
Latin Beats: Sonidos de las Américas Concert (Sept. 25)
The Mexican Cultural Center and Colorado Symphony are presenting the third annual Latin Beats: Sonidos de las Americas, a free community concert celebrating Latin culture’s influence of sound on the Americas. Expect a fusion of traditional, classical and contemporary music during this 7 p.m. event at Boettcher Concert Hall that is part of the lineup for the 2019 Biennial of the Americas. All seating is general admission, and tickets are available two weeks prior to the event online or in-person at the Colorado Symphony Box Office.
The Music of Selena with the Colorado Symphony (Oct. 12-13)
Join the Colorado Symphony in celebrating the life and enduring legacy of trailblazing artist Selena Quintanilla. Isabel Marie Sánchez will perform iconic hits with the full orchestra including “Dreaming of You,” “Como la Flor,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “No Me Queda Más” and “I Could Fall in Love.” This tribute to Quintanilla, also known as “The Queen of Tejano Music,” is happening in partnership with the Mexican Cultural Center at Boettcher Concert Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Paid tickets are required.
Opportunities exist all year long to learn Latin dances and try out the moves!
Colorado New Style Dance specializes in Latin dance and offers a wide variety of classes for adults and kids. Various levels of salsa, bachata, capoeira and other classes are available.
Salsa Central Denver has a handy list of where to learn salsa and bachata every week and enjoy dancing to Latin beats, including its own Wednesday Salsa and Bachata Lessons and Dance where you can meet new people and practice all night long! There is an admission fee that includes a beginning salsa lesson. There is an extra fee for bachata and intermediate salsa. Lessons begin at 7:15 p.m. followed by opening dancing from 8:30 p.m. to close.
Also on the list are bachata dancing with lessons on Mondays and Salsa Fridays with DJ Johnny at Blue Ice Lounge, which also has Rotating Latin Night on Thursdays and Latin Top 40 on Saturdays. Two other options suggested by Salsa Central Denver take place at La Rumba, including Friday evening bachata workshops from 8-9 p.m. and Sunday Salsa-Bachata Night, with lessons starting at 7 p.m.