At the very start of October, we’re already halfway through National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The commemorative “month” — bookended by Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 — is celebrated to recognize the contributions and cultures of American citizens who have origins in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Because the term “Hispanic” is politically and historically loaded, the month is also meant to celebrate folks who identify as Latinx.
Why were those particular dates chosen by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, when he formalized the occasion?
During this 30-day period, eight Latin American countries celebrate their independence: Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Día de la Raza — somewhat synonymous with Columbus Day — falls within this time frame as well.
Per the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017, Philadelphia’s “Hispanic or Latino” community makes up 14.8 percent of the city’s population. That’s slightly lower than the 17.8 percent nationwide, but it’s still a lot of people — more than 230,000.
Which means lots of options for things to do, see and take part in during this celebration of the culture — whether the events are officially affiliated with the “month” or just spearheaded by Latinx and Hispanic Philadelphians.
Here’s our picks for the best of the bunch, with an extra note: this to-do guide is the first in a Billy Penn first in a new series of bilingual articles.
Why publish in two languages? So that everyone can read it — Spanish speaking Hispanic/Latinx people, non-Spanish speaking Hispanic/Latinx people and people who are neither Hispanic nor Latinx, but want to show appreciation and support for the community.
💃 First Friday Salsa Night
Schmidt’s Commons, Friday, Oct. 5, 7 to 10 p.m.
Can’t make it? There are plenty more places where you can get your Latin dance on in Philly, year-round.
🎷 Havana Nights
World Cafe Live, Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m.
Sharpen up your cha-cha-cha, mambo, bolero, rumba, conga, rueda and danzón skills while sipping a Cuba Libre and munching a croqueta at World Cafe Live. Conjunto Philadelphia will be providing the live jams.
🌎 Hispanic Heritage Month Gala
Sugarhouse Casino, Friday, Oct. 5, 6:30 to 11 p.m.
Dress swanky and eat comfort food while meeting local Hispanic and Latinx leaders, professionals and influencers. Special guests and honorees of the event — presented by Goya Foods and El Sol Latino Newspaper — include Rafael Toro, Rev. Luis Cortes, Natilly Santos, David Gonzales and José J. Mota. Aside from a reception ceremony and a dinner, there’ll also be a red carpet soiree and a dance with live music.
🍴 Center City Restaurant Week
Multiple locations, Ongoing. Ends Oct. 5
Support your local restaurants, chefs and/or cuisine by being a patron during Center City Restaurant Week. You’ll only have to shell out $35 for a gourmet three-course meal. Hispanic and Latin focused participants that aren’t chains include Alma de Cuba, Mixto Restaurant, El Vez, Lolita, Tequilas Restaurant, Xochitl Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Malbec Argentine Steakhouse, Amada, Aqimero, Jamonera, Oloroso, Tinto and Volver.
🎉 Indigenous Peoples Celebration
Bartram’s Garden, Sunday, Oct. 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Learn more about and from indigenous peoples in Philadelphia by participating in collaborative art activities, workshops, presentations, guided tours, food, drumming and dancing. Indigenous Education and Ollin Yoliztli Calmecac will be leading the funducational cultural exploration.
🐂 Rancho El Aguaje
Lighthouse Field , Sunday, Oct. 7, 12 p.m.
🔥 The Grand Opening of Ardiente: Ignite the Night
Ardiente, Thursday, Oct. 11, 6 to 9 p.m.
Ardiente, Old City’s new “Chino y Latino” restaurant and lounge, is hosting a grand opening party. Your $50 ticket includes a VIP sit-down tasting menu, champagne, signature cocktails, and entertainment by World Town and go-go dancers. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to PAWS.
Academy of Music, Opening Thursday, Oct. 11
Though Romeo and Juliet is a Russian ballet influenced by a British playwright, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s artistic director, Angel Corella, is breathing new life into a timeless classic. Corella, a madrileño whose skills are world-renowned, has experience performing for Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Sophia of Spain, and Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. On top of that, several of the dancers in PA Ballet also have Hispanic heritage.
🇲🇽 Material Mexico
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, Thursday, Oct. 11, 6 to 9 p.m.
Guest speaker Salvador Peribán will share one-of-a-kind mezcal samples. Each guest will receive a handblown mezcal copita from Studio Xaquixe in Oaxaca, Mexico, to take home. Additional mezcal will be provided by Philadelphia’s own Dock Street Brewery, which imports its own brand called Vicio. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided by South Philly Barbacoa.
🎨 Festival for the People
Cherry Street Pier , Opening Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The first major event at this newly revitalized riverfront facility features several Hispanic/Latinx artists. The two-week Festival for the People will be celebrating “the rich subcultural forms across Philadelphia, from comics to tattoos to internet culture, while also offering a fun and critical perspective on populism and expanding the public conception of what contemporary art is and can be.”
🇵🇷 The People for Puerto Rico: A March to Remember
Logan Circle, Saturday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Support Philly’s Puerto Rican community (including permanent residents and those who were displaced by Hurricane Maria), by silently marching Councilwoman Maria Quiñones’ 40 x 60-ft. Puerto Rican Flag from Logan Circle to the Art Museum, to raise awareness and advocate for Puerto Ricans still coping with the devastation.
🎤 Raquel Rodriguez
Dawson Street Pub, Sunday, Oct. 14, 8 to 11 p.m.
Mexican-American soul singer Raquel Rodriguez is making her Philly debut at this classic Manayunk tavern. A native of West Los Angeles, Rodriguez draws inspiration from Prince, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars, as well as from the last two decades of “LA-style” music.
🦋 Kali Uchis: In Your Dreams Tour
Theatre of The Living Arts, Monday, Oct. 15, 8:30 p.m.
At 24, Colombian-American singer and songwriter Kali Uchis has already been nominated for both a Latin Grammy and a Grammy award. At her performance on South Street, expect music influenced by 1960s soul, doo-wop and R&B. Uchis has headlined for Lana del Rey and has recorded songs with Tyler the Creator, Daniel Caesar, Juanes and Jorja Smith.