The excitement of creating a Latino Social group in San Francisco, New York and the world!!!

Written in 2007!

I immigrated to United States at the age of 14 from Guatemala. I quickly lost my interaction with Guatemalans, and Latinos in general. My family moved to Glendale, CA; a city populated mostly by Armenians and Iranians. I was always oblivious of my surroundings growing up so I didn’t really care at the time. I enjoyed playing soccer with my classmates and learning different cultures. I also learned English … luckily I learned fast because in 1997/1998 I remember different stores around the area hanging “English Only” signs.

Later in my high school career I met some Latinos, like myself, that had immigrated to the United States and would play soccer after school. I really enjoyed hearing the different accents and eating different types of food from the American continent (America in Latin America contains both North and South America in one continent – I had friends from Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador). We started organizing parties and small trips around California. Unfortunately, after we all graduated, my family moved 40 miles east of Glendale and I lost all my friends (back in the day, I didn’t really make an effort to keep friends … go figure!)

Socially, the two years of community college were non-existent due to my dedication to my studies, work, family and a serious relationship. This was fine by me because I knew it would pay off in the end. During my first year as a transfer student at UC Berkeley, I maintained my study habits but I did make more of an effort to organize social events for the transfer dorm I used to live at. By then, I rarely spoke Spanish; only with my family members and very few friends would I say “Quiero bailar!”.

My desire to make an effort to surround myself with Latinos came at the beginning of my senior year at UC Berkeley. I was invited by a friend from the transfer dorm from the previous year to her house party on November 2nd, 2001. At first I didn’t feel like going because I didn’t know anyone but her (was that really me back then?). Luckily, last minute, I got up my butt and walked across campus to go to her house that contained 19 rooms full of undergraduates. An hour into the party, I hear some voices speak Spanish and I jump at the opportunity to get to know these people. It felt as if I had gone back in time and heard the different accents of my high school days. I introduced myself and proudly mention that I’m from Guatemala.

It was some sort of unexplained magnet, an electrical field that we created that night. All the latinos and non-latinos who love the latino culture ended up dancing in Ernesto’s room (at the time, I had no idea who he was). We danced all night, sang songs that makes our heart beat 1,000 times a second, jumped like idiots and felt alive! I think we stopped dancing at 5/6 am that night. Throughout the night I felt like I had found the ultimate treasure to my Latino desire. I gathered email addresses knowing that I wanted that night to repeat itself.

The following day I emailed the group of people I had met just a few hours ago and invited them to my house for a pot-luck. We had the pot-luck 2 days later and the same energy and attraction that we felt on the night of the 2nd was present. We all helped cook, we told jokes, we played spin-the-bottle, we treated each other as people that had known each other all their lives! I knew that what we had found was something special and it needed to continue. That day we decided to plan a trip to Napa as a group. You can imagine the amount of emails that went around everyone’s inboxes. To reduce the amount of typing that each one of us had to do, I created a mailing list titled “latinos a morir”. I chose this name because I was so proud of being a latino and so excited to have found a group of people that I felt so comfortable with, that there was no other way to express my “orgullo”. Needless to say, the Napa trip is still in everyone’s heart and mind. It was just too much fun! To give you a glimpse of the emails that would go around or the events that we would host, here is an email that was sent by a member back in March 11, 2002:

_________________________________________________
Ok, aqui estan los planes de nuestra vacaciones de primavera:

Grupo 1:
Cancun, Marzo 25-30. Quien va? No es tarde todavia.

Grupo2:
Sabado Marzo 24 — Concierto Enanitos Verdes, Alex Syntek (San Jose)
Nos quedamos a dormir en San Jose para el Domingo en la mañana irnos
a Los Angeles.
Domingo Marzo 25 — Cumpleaños de Camilo – Celebracion en Los Angeles.
Lunes Marzo 26 — Manejada a el Gran Cañon.
Miercoles Marzo 28 — Manejada a Los Angeles
Jueves Marzo 29 — Barco a la Isla de Catalina
Camparemos dos noches, nadar, remar, cantar, hike, etc.
Sabado Marzo 31 — Barco a el puerto de San Pedro,
despues manejada a Berkeley el Sabado en la tarde.

Yo estoy en el Grupo 2, pero al Gran Cañon yo no voy a ir, voy a ir con mi
novia a Santa Cruz Martes y Miercoles. Yo tampoco regresaria con ustedes a
Berkeley, voy a volar el Lunes Abril 2 en la mañana. Quiero pasar ese fin de
semana con mi familia. Y talvez, talvez, no vaya al concierto, para pasar
ese Sabado con mi familia, pero eso es un talvez.

Ok, aqui estan los planes, pero ahora alguien tiene que hacer reservaciones
en el campamento, eso es limitado. Tambien alguien tiene que averiguar
cuanto vale el concierto y donde se compran los boletos. Sino, no vamos a
encontrar boletos. Tambien hay que hagarrar informacion del Gran Cañon,
cuanto dura la maneja, etc. Yo no lo puedo hacer porque tengo que empezar a
empacar para mudarme de esta casa. Tambien tengo un examen, y dos reportes
que entregar esta semana. Osea que, porfa, alguien tome las riendas. Muchas
gracias. Tengan un feliz dia, y ya me hacen falta, bueno, solo un poquito.

___________________________________________________________

After so many great house parties, events, trips, concerts, etc, the initial group attracted more latinos/non-latinos interested in being surrounded by people that exploded the latinada. The mailing list still exists and contains the original friends from 2001/2003.

After we graduated, we all had withdrawal symptoms and were nostalgic. We all parted to different parts of the world but we had our mailing list that kept us together. We still email each other once a week and discuss the different political issues in Latin America, social issues in the US, etc.

When I came to Berkeley for my Masters, I lived in the International House and there I learned how to not only enjoy the Latinos, but also the multicultural crowd. I met people from ALL over the world and always had great conversations with many friends. Like Latinos A Morir, living in the International House, there is always a group of people that click and hang out together. I was fortunate to meet people that had the same positive outlook in life as I did and enjoyed every day to the fullest! By then, I had learned many organizational skills and was always planning parties, ping-pong tournaments, trips (Cancun, Hawaii, Yosemite), etc. One thing I learned about Latino culture and the world is that Latinos are everywhere and EVERYONE loves Latinos! Regardless of where people are from, each member of a different country is intrigued by the “latinada”.

On my return to Berkeley in early 2007, I wanted to recreate the same feeling of excitement when a myriad of latinos/non-latinos gather to explore the so called “latinada”. Rael, Perla, Dalia, Juanita, and I (original LAM members)  started organizing house parties and dinners for friends during the first half of the year. The parties got to be popular and the music would make everyone shake … at one point it became too much of a hazzle to organize events at houses (cleaning, costs, noise complaints, etc.). Our last LAM House party was at Treasure Island with over 150 people! I guess this was the point where Latinos A Morir started as an official social group.

My first mission for Latinos A Morir is to create a social network of multicultural, well-educated and fun people who love the Latino culture. My second mission is to spread the latino culture to everyone regardless of gender, race, age, etc.

To accomplish these missions, I started by organizing social parties in San Francisco and providing musica latina to the crowd. I would not have been able to do this at the beginning if it wasn’t for Arnaud, a good french friend of mine that I met at the International House. He provided the contact for the first bar where we threw a great party together. As I continued to organize parties, I learned about the entertainment industry and I have to admit … got deviated from my missions due to lack of time and some bumpy roads. Luckily, that only lasted for a month and, with the help of a close friend, was able to launch http://lam-network.com, the online portal to the social group.

It has been hard to maintain consistency in the type of events LAM offers since this is not a full-time job, but I try my best. I really want to provide musica latina, great latin dinners, and great social activities for all the latino lovers.

Ok, I’m tired and I think this is a pretty long post! 😉 I will try to keep this updated at least once a month to talk about the excitement of creating a latino social group around different cities in the world!

For your enjoyment, here is the signature the original latinos a morir group used in the email list:

Latinos-A-Morir (LAM) es un grupo de amigos amantes de la cultura alegre y
abierta que nos une sin respecto a color, credo, clase, orientacion sexual,
idioma, genero, ni edad. Esta lista es nuestra manera de mantenernos informados – dialogando y riendo – bien sea de la politica o de la rumba. Este grupo no es
solo para conocer otros “latinos” sino tambien para ayudar en crear comunidad.
Advertencias: 1. LAM no es una organización ni esta afiliada a Cal o al ASUC. No se responsabiliza de ningún desmadre. 2. Las fiestas de LAM han sido siempre demasiado buenas. A aquellos con problemas de salud se les recomienda no tomar mas de una al mes. 3. Debido a los niveles de diversión eufórica alcanzada en estos eventos sociales, se ha notado que ciertas personas experimentan lapsos depresivos al retornar a su vida cotidiana. Favor de tomarlo con precaución y controlar su latinada.

For you non-Spanish speakers:
Latinos A Morir (LAM) is a group of friends who love the happy and open culture that unites us regardless of color, creed, social class, sexual orientation, language, gender, nor age. This list is our way to keep us informed, laughing and creating a dialog – be it politics or dancing. This group is not only to meet other “latinos” but also to help create a community. Warnings: 1. LAM is not an organization, nor is it affiliated with Cal or ASUC. We are not responsible for a ‘DESMADRE’. 2. The parties of LAM have been extremely good. For those of you with health problems, we recommend not to attend more than one a month. 3. Due to euphoric levels of diversion in these social events, we have noticed that people experience depressive lapses when they return to their daily life. Please take with caution and control your ‘latinada’.