America ReFramed

We Like It Like That

Season 04  Episode 22

Created and popularized by largely Puerto Rican, Cuban and African American youths living alongside each other as neighbors and friends in the 1960s, Boogaloo served as an authentic and vibrant cultural expression of a generation using Latin musical hooks with English lyrics. WE LIKE IT LIKE THAT explores a lesser-known but pivotal moment in 1960s music history when blues, funk and traditional Caribbean rhythms were fused to define a new generation of urban Latinos.

The story of Boogaloo and its major proponents is told through a mix of contemporary interviews, music recordings, live performances, dancing and rare archival footage and images. Emanating from Latin enclaves in New York City, and notably from El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, the musical style squarely lies within the continuum of Latin culture as it evolved alongside African American culture in New York City. Boogaloo fused doo-wop, rhythm and blues (R & B), soul music and traditional Afro Cuban mambo and son montunos, and made a lasting impact in New York, across the nation and beyond.

Noted Latin music expert, René López says that Boogaloo can be best understood as the first Nuyorican music heralding an unprecedented American cultural phenomenon. Among the period’s greatest hits are "Bang! Bang!" by the Joe Cuba Sextet, Johnny Colón's "Boogaloo Blues," Pete Rodríguez's “I Like it Like That” and Héctor Rivera's "At the Party.” These tunes and others garnered mainstream attention, and the genre was even co-opted by mainstay Latin legends such as Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri, and others.

As with varied forms of new artistic expression, Boogaloo was met with resistance if not overt repression, from the prior generation and the business structures that supported the music industry. Although Boogaloo lasted for about a decade, the music lit a flame and the sub-genre, appreciated all over the globe, continues to be celebrated and is showing signs of a vigorous revival.