For the first time, the annual Centro Hispano Evening of Dreaming fundraiser, which showcases the diversity of Latino culture in surprising, thought-provoking and whimsical ways, is not going to be held at Centro Hispano on Madison’s south side. And Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller is pretty excited about it.
“It was a big deal for the Wisconsin Union to allow us to present this together,” she says. “That is a big deal. I am really grateful for that and I’m hoping that relationship will grow even more.”
This year, Centro is taking its annual Evening of Dreaming event to the Wisconsin Union Theater on Friday, Nov. 15, for a concert featuring world-renowned bands Las Cafeteras and LADAMA.
“We’re taking it to campus this year and it’s very intentional. It’s a very important week for our community,” Menendez Coller tells Madison365. “There shouldn’t be any boundaries for our young people – DACA, our dreamers. We don’t believe in boundaries for Centro and we just want to be a presence in as many spaces as possible.
“That’s one of our goals for next year – for everybody to see the Latino community as an important community to be engaged with,” she adds. “They need to have visible spaces.”
This is the fourth year for the Evening of Dreaming event, which Centro hosts in partnership with Wisconsin Public Television.
“Evening of Dreaming is always an edgier event. We shake things up a little bit. Award-winning author Reyna Grande was the highlight of our first ‘Dreaming’ event,” Menendez Coller remembers. “Then we had a [art and food] pop-up event. And then we had an edgy filmmaker come out last year – Phillip Rodriguez – and he was amazing.
“It’s always been a partnership with Wisconsin Public Television,” she adds. “I cannot say enough wonderful things about them. They have been really great to work with.”
Las Cafeteras is a Chicano band from East Los Angeles that plays music binding together spoken word and folk music, with traditional Son Jarocho, Afro-Mexican music and zapateado dancing. Las Cafeteras sing in English, Spanish, and Spanglish and add a remix of sounds, from rock to hip-hop to rancheras.
LADAMA is a group of four women, virtuosic musicians, and educators — each from a different country and culture of the Americas. Harnessing music from their respective countries of origin — Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and the United States — their music fuses sounds from South America and the Caribbean with soul, R&B, and pop.
“The two bands that are coming are really really cool. What’s really interesting is that in other spaces they are really well known. I don’t know how well known they are in the midwest. They are cutting edge, they are funky,” Menendez Coller says. “They represent the different faces of the Latino community. They are modern but they use a lot of traditional influences.
“Sometimes in Madison, I feel like we get boxed-in to the way we feel things should be and these bands are really original and really break the mold,” she adds. “They are really social-justice-oriented bands, too … and a lot of fun.”
The Evening of Dreaming event is an important fundraiser for Centro Hispano. The art and food pop-up, which brought over 300 people to Centro for an interactive art and food dinner featuring Latino artists and chefs, helped raise $13,500 for Centro’s programs.
“I think with the needs that are happening in our community, we just can’t keep up fast enough. There is so much that is changing and so many things that are developing,” Menendez Coller says. “Next year, we’re going to really ramp up our efforts to establish a strong agency that will be even more proactive in responding. An Evening of Dreaming just adds to that puzzle and is an important fundraiser for Centro. It adds to our dollars that will be able to support operations and programs and everything we do at Centro.”
There’s still room to get in. Here is the link for tickets. People that use the Centro code – CentroNov19 – will get a discount and access to the VIP with the band before the show.
“We’re growing and diversifying in Madison so all of these opportunities are a chance to see the community in a different light,” Menendez Coller says. “It complements all of the other festivals and events that are happening here.
“I’m really excited about this event,” he adds. “I think it will help Madison to understand all of the differences in our community and help them learn about our culture and what we stand for.”