(L-R): DJ Shotgun, El Arquitecto, and Tu Dulcero arrive at the Billboard Latin Music Awards after party. (Photo: Michael Seto)
Billboard Executive Director of Content and Programming for Latin Music Leila Cobo, laying in the corner of a sofa on the second floor, casually sipped from a glass of wine as the thumping sound of Wisin y Yandel's "Acercate" bounced off the walls of Kyma Lounge inside the Epic Hotel in Miami.
It was officially time to put a bow on and celebrate the 2012 Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards with an after party that went deep into the night thanks to the mixing prowess of DJEU, keeping several hundred industry types and artists dancing around an oval bar.
"I'm relaxed," said Cobo as invitees packed the dance floor and spilled out into an outdoor dock, while runway fashion models filled the flatscreens throughout the lounge.
Party-goers revel in the scene at the after party. (Photo: Michael Seto)
So was Top Dollar Entertainment backup singer Kiara Blanco, 23, who along with her brother Jose Miguel Blanco (AKA 'Kury Luna'), traveled from New York for the Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards. "This is more than a chance to dance and party, it's a chance to come face-to-face with each other," said Blanco. "I think it's crucial we connect with each other and work together because at the end of the day we're all searching for the same thing."
Blanco, talking over Shakira anthem "This Time For Africa" as a half dozen girls danced nearby, echoed the prevailing theme throughout the week-long conference in that industry heavyweights should make a better effort in working together, and not just when it's time to head for the studio. "If a well-known artist and his team would open the door to working with the smaller guy more often that would help us."
"The big guy definitely has to meet the small guy halfway," said Blanco. "But I also learned this week that there are plenty of opportunities for young people like us… just never give up."
Ashley Simon, media partnerships manager for Foursquare (left) and Erica Berger hanging out at the after party. (Photo: Michael Seto)
Wilfredo Vargas' classic "El Africano" blared as Evdi Sound, a young, aspring Puerto Rican singer, put into perspective the significance and importance for the salsa genre, and Latin music in general, to have had Gilberto Santa Rosa, Marc Anthony and Olga Tanon close out the Billboard Latin Music Award Show.
"I hear a lot about the younger people not caring about our music… salsa is our music," said Sound. "But it's our responsibility to pass it on from generation to generation, and make sure the artists we danced to and learned to love are not forgotten or erased from music history."
Berklee College of Music students show up to the red carpet. (Photo: Michael Seto)
While he expressed concern for the lack of new, upcoming talent in Latin music, Sound also believes having each other's backs can only benefit everybody in the industry. "You heard it all week," said Sound. "If we help each other out, we'll be better for it."
While many hovered around aluminum plates of pastelitos and cold cuts, the theme of the night was sticking together, in more ways than one. "It would definitely make the climb a lot easier for some of us."
The after party scene from above. (Photo: Michael Seto)
Billboard's Bill Werde and Leila Cobo celebrate a night of awards. (Photo: Michael Seto)