Enthusiasm soars at De la Guerra Plaza, Mackenzie Park
Wednesday began with dancers in colorful costumes and ended with rock ’n’ roll and even more dancing to a faster beat.
That was the scene at El Mercado de la Guerra, where nonprofits and businesses operated booths selling everything from tamales to ice cream and where enthusiastic crowds watched the Fiesta action on stage.
Meanwhile, across town at Mackenzie Park, El Mercado del Norte featured dance performances by Spirit of Fiesta Tara Mata and Junior Spirit Layla Gocong. There was also the spirit of flight as carnival rides there brought riders of all ages up in the air.
There’s no ceiling on fun at the Fiesta.
That certainly was the case at the first El Mercado de la Guerra since 2019, where friends and relatives of dancers of various ages cheered for them on stage.
After the ceremonial ribbon cutting for Fiesta, Cruz Dance & Entertainment performed, followed by Alma de Mexico, Grupo Danza de Quetzalcoatl and Maria Bermudez Flamenco Performing Arts.
Dancers performed in the colorful and magical folklorico dresses as well as simpler dresses with equally bright colors. The styles of dance varied as much as the costumes on a day that saluted the upbeat tempo of Latino music and the dynamics of the dancers’ footwork. The choreography also varied, with no two acts alike.
When various students from Garcia Dance Studio took the stage Wednesday afternoon, fans who knew them by name cheered. The cheering grew louder as the day progressed and the crowd grew.
The afternoon continued with Flamenco Santa Barbara.
By the evening, people getting off work packed De la Guerra Plaza in time for a drummer with relentless enthusiasm and the rest of False Puppet. The rock band played everything from the song popularized by Elvis Presley, “I Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog,” to the perennial crowd pleaser, the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The vocals were both loud and melodic, especially on a 1974 Dolly Parton hit, “Jolene,” which featured a compelling guitar solo.
Every so often, False Puppet’s lead vocalist yelled “Viva la Fiesta!” and later told the crowd as the drummer pounded away, “Make some noise!”
The day at De la Guerra Plaza ended with — what else? — dancing to contemporary hits such as Pitbull’s “Fireball” and Peter Rodriguez’ “I Like It Like That.”
Then came the final act of the day, the Americana/rock band Doublewide Kings.
Back across town, El Mercado del Norte featured everything from flamenco to ballet.
The day started with Garcia Dance Studio. Then came Puro Flamenco, Boscutti Ballet Theatre and Cruz Dance & Entertainment, as well as the previously mentioned dances by the Spirit of Fiesta and Junior Spirit. Both of them, by the way, studied at Zermeñdo Dance Academy, which performed Wednesday right after them on the same stage.
Those dancers were followed by more talent, including Luis Medrano, Buena Onda and the Time Travelers Band.
Besides all that music, dancing and food, there was the merchandise. Colorful clothing and more was sold nearby.
Fiesta is consistently colorful, bright and bold. As the False Puppet lead vocalist said again during his band’s set, “Viva la Fiesta!”