Eduardo Luna is the host of Espanglish Night, a monthly Monday night party featuring a dizzyingly eclectic rotation of live music. As the name suggests, Espanglish Night specializes in mixing Spanish and English language artists. A typical bill may feature a Hoosier-bred rapper or ska band, followed up by a Mexican metal group or Dominican hardcore punk outfit.
If you've been to Espanglish Night you may know Eduardo by his boisterous alter ego, El Camarón Electrónico (the electronic shrimp.) Clad in a Mexican soccer jersey and a luchador mask from Mexico's professional wrestling leagues, El Camarón presides over the night's events introducing bands and occasionally initiating an impromptu game of lotería (a Mexican variation on bingo.)
Eduardo is an exceedingly thoughtful person and he asked that I promise to acknowledge his Espanglish Night partners Nicolasito, La Piedra Mediterranea and Jimmy Tavares.
NUVO: Can you tell me about the concept behind Espanglish Night?
Eduardo Luna: It's about being open to multiculturalism in Indianapolis. It's about bringing Latino people into English-speaking bars. It's about introducing the English-speaking crowd to Hispanic culture.
I grew up in Acapulco, Mexico. There was a radio station there that really influenced me, 97.7 FM. I still remember it. They used to play a mix of both English and Spanish language music. More recently regional styles of Mexican music like corrido and banda have dominated the radio. The radio stations aren't playing the reggae and rock en español that many people want to hear. So Espanglish Night is a place where we can feature those styles.
It provides an opportunity to show people who grew up in the United States that what they hear on Latino radio is not the only thing that we listen to. When people come, it really opens their eyes. It's not what they have learned to expect of Latino music from radio and television. It shows them another side of our culture. We listen to the same types of music like rock and hip-hop, only the language is different.
NUVO: What bands would you recommend to NUVO readers to give them a taste of the alternative Spanish language sounds you're referring to?
Luna: Of course there's Manu Chao and Café Tacuba, which many people know. But there are lots of awesome rock bands from Mexico, Spain and South America like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Jaguares, La Ley and Molotov. I would also recommend a couple hip-hop artists from Spain, like Violadores del Verso and Nash Scratch.
NUVO: What's your background in music?
Luna: Really I'm just a music aficionado. I tried to play bass when I was younger and I was in a basement metal band. We were trying to be one of the first rock en español metal bands in Indianapolis. That was about 11 years ago.
NUVO: Your alter ego El Camarón Electrónico hosts Espanglish Night. What inspired you to create that character?
Luna: As a kid growing up in Mexico, I used to watch lucha libre, Mexico's professional wrestling. The wrestlers would get very involved with the audience and the crowd would respond enthusiastically. Sometimes it would get to a point that they were in each other's faces. So El Camarón Electrónico exists to provide an interaction between Espanglish Night and the crowd. The mask is part of Mexican culture and when I put it on I become someone else. But really, it's just for fun.
NUVO: Espanglish Night is still in its infancy; ultimately, where do you hope to take it?
Luna: One of our main goals is to grow large enough that we could bring a band like Molotov form Mexico City to perform in Indianapolis. But for now we want to provide a platform for new bands in the Midwest to showcase their music to a bilingual audience. Beyond music, we want Espanglish Night to create community between cultures. If you go to the show, you'll meet new people, talk about new things and get acquainted with their way of living. The goal is for Espanglish Night to create that bridge.
Each edition of A Cultural Manifesto features a mix from Kyle Long, spotlighting music from around the globe. This week's selection features songs from one of the greatest Spanglish music movements of all-time, the late 1960s boogaloo/Latin soul scene of New York.
You can subscribe and download the Cultural Manifesto podcast on Itunes here.
1. Har-You Percussion Group - Welcome to the Party (1969, ESP Disk)
2. Ray Barretto - Acid (1968, Fania)
3. Monguito Santamaria - Groovetime (1969, Fania)
4. Manny Corchado - Pow Wow (1968, Decca)
5. Joe Cuba - El Pito (1966, Tico)
6. Joe Bataan - Subway Joe (1967, Fania)
7. The Latinaires - Afro-Shingaling (1968, Fania)
8. Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers - Heat (1968, Prestige)
9. Willie Bobo - Evil Ways (1968, Verve)