I have my first piece for The Nation available on newsstands now: “Boogaloo Nights,” looking at – you guessed it – Latin boogaloo in all its splendor. This essay serves as a primer on not just boogaloo’s history but its import in understanding the intertwined complexity of American cultural exchange.
A few “additions” – mostly things that were cut from the article for space. First of all, I tried, in the original drafts of the piece, to acknowledge the immense contribution to the public knowledge about boogaloo thanks to Juan Flores and the late Max Salazar. Much of my historical retelling of boogaloo depended on their research and I didn’t realize the final copy had excised my attempt to credit them as such.
Second, the article tends to focus on Fania as a “bad guy” figure in the death of boogaloo and that’s probably largely earned but what’s missing is how ironic it is that Fania (or really, Emusica) is taking such a leading role in reviving the genre. I think that’s a fascinating story in and of itself but I wasn’t able to get that deep into it here. Moreover, I also want to note that Fania is far, far, far from the only label in town in regards to the boogaloo. It was arguably the biggest player but one of many.
Third, a note on spelling…in the piece, I refer to the Latin boogaloo as bugalú as a form of shorthand so I don’t confuse people between the R&B boogaloo and the Latin boogaloo. This said, on most Latin records, boogaloo is spelled “boogaloo,” not bugalú.
I also wrote a sidebar on five boogaloo compilations worth picking up for the neophyte.
Fear not, much more on boogaloo to come. I’ve been asked – and gratefully accepted – the opportunity to write liner notes for an upcoming anthology of Joe Bataan’s Fania output that will be coming out around April.