Smithsonian Presents Fenómeno Latino: Latin Music’s Global Rise

June 22 Solstice Saturday Music Festival and Program To Highlight Reggaetón   

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will celebrate Latin music June 22 as part of the museum’s celebration of Civic Season and Solstice Saturday. The free, family-friendly festival will explore more than a century of Spanish-language and crossover hits and the Latina/o/x artists that brought Latin music into the global mainstream. In addition, a special pavilion will invite visitors to celebrate Civic Season, a summer tradition aimed at inspiring young people to participate in American democracy, with activities, voter registration and more.   

Solstice Saturday marks the first Saturday of summer and the museum will be open until 10:00 p.m., joining other Smithsonian museums in hosting programs and performances during the evening hours. The daytime festival, with dance lessons, a drum circle and story hour will take place from 11 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., followed by the outdoor Fenómeno Latino Reggaetón Music concert and program from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 

Since the early 1900s, “Spanish- tinged” jazz and a decades-long obsession with Cuban rhythms have led to chart-topping radio hits, such as “La Bamba,” “El Watusi” and “Conga,” bringing Latin music to the ears of U.S. listeners and enticing them onto the dance floor.  In the 1980s, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine put Latin pop on the map with their hit song, “Conga.” By the 1990s and early 2000s, the mainstream was celebrating a “Latin explosion” with hits by Selena, Ricky Martin, Los del Rio, Gerardo, Elvis Crespo, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias. Daddy Yankee’s 2004 hit “Gasolina” introduced the world to Reggaetón, ushering in a new era of Latin music. Today, Reggaetón is the sound of global pop; its popularity is a testament to the power of music to transcend borders, languages and cultures.  

Latin music and its influence are woven into the museum’s “Entertainment Nation” exhibition, which currently features a leather outfit worn by Latina superstar Selena during the 14th Annual Tejano Music Awards; Celia Cruz’s shoes, Tito Puente’s timbales, Emilio Estefan’s conga drums and a stage costume worn by Gloria Estefan.  

Fenómeno Latino: Latin Music’s Global Rise Program Schedule:

The Saturday event kicks off with family-focused programming, including story time, music, dance lessons and a drum circle focused on the rise of Latin music in the U.S.  

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1W 11:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  • Storytime: 11:00 –11:45 a.m. with D.C. Public Libraries
  • Objects Out-of-Storage Noon – 2 p.m.
  • Dance Lessons: 1:00– 1:45 p.m. with Salsa with Silvia
  • Drum Circle: 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. with Felix Contreras, co-host, Alt.Latino, NPR 
  • Hands-on activities with Hasta ‘Bajo Project

Main Stage, Mall Terrace 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 

Madison St. NW between 12th and 14th Streets

The evening focuses on music with guest D.J.s, dancing on the museum’s National Mall terrace and additional programming focusing on the rise of Reggaetón from the urban underground to global popularity.

  • Reggaetón Dance Lessons 5:00 p.m., with Salsa With Silvia
  • Panel Discussion: “The Rise of Reggaetón,” 6:00 p.m. Moderated by Ashley Mayor, curatorial associate, National Museum of American History; with Petra Rivera-Rideau, associate professor of American Studies, Wellesley College; Anamaria Sayre, multimedia producer and co-host, Alt.Latino, NPR; Luis Duarte, principal, Duarte Entertainment and DJ Nelson.
  • Reggaetón Live Performances 7:00 p.m. with DJ Negro, DJ Playero and special guests

Civic Pavilion, Flag Hall, 2 West 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 

Civic Season, in partnership with Made By Us, is a summer tradition aimed at inspiring young people to participate in our democracy and help shape the future. The pavilion will include:  

  • Voto Latino: Voter Registration
  • National Park Service
  • Made By Us
  • WMATA Metro
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of the American Latino

The museum’s main gift shop will remain open late to coincide with the festival hours and adult beverages and food will be available for purchase on the Mall Terrace until 9:00 p.m.