Orlando Latin Music Community on Nightclub Shooting: 'This Affects Us All'

Candelight Vigil in honor of Orlando
AP Photo/David Goldman

Mourners gather around candles lit during a vigil after a fatal shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016.

In the aftermath of the massacre that left 50 dead in an Orlando nightclub Saturday night, there is nothing to indicate that the crime was directed at Latinos, nor has any Latin connection been established for the shooter.

But it’s impossible not to have a Latin connection in a city where 28.4% of its permanent population is Latin, according to the 2010 Census.

And so it happened that the Pulse shoot-out took place on Latin night, part of the programming of virtually every nightspot in the city.

Shooting At Orlando Nightclub Leaves 50 Dead in Largest Mass Shooting in U.S. History

Pulse, in particular, was no stranger to Latin programming; just two weekends ago, on May 28, Puerto Rican singer Melina Leon performed at the club. And in March, reggaeton star Ivy Queen performed at Parliament House, another gay club.

“In shock and can’t believe what happened last night at Club Pulse in Orlando,” tweeted Leon.  “I was there two weeks ago and the people who go there are good people, the atmosphere is relaxed, most of them are Latin and young. My soul is shattered. So many people full of hate in the world.” 

“We produce an average of 20-25 Latin events per year at the House  of Blues Orlando,” says Carlos Orjuela, Live Nation’s national Latin Talent Buyer. “That doesn't even count the big shows we do at Amway Arena with acts like Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony or the upcoming show with Pitbull, Prince Royce and Farruko. So what happened certainly affects us.”

However, Orjuela doesn’t see the Orlando massacre as a Latino issue or a LGBT issue.

“All our consumers are the same,” he says. “Moving forward, in any massive events, we’ll have to take measures to take care of everyone, regardless of who the event is for.”

Others who work the Latin circuit agree.

“This affects us all,” says DJ Candy Boy, the PD for urban radio station Urbana 92.7 FM, who is also Yandel’s DJ and regularly plays clubs both in and outside the area. “This wasn’t about this being a gay club or Latin night. What this calls into question is the security at the venue. And I believe security should be heightened, regardless of genre.”

When Saturday’s shooting was first reported, says Candy Boy, the knee-jerk reaction by several in the media was to insinuate the shootings were somehow linked to Latin nights and a culture of violence.

LGBT Clubs in American History: Cultural Centers, Safe Spaces & Targets

“There’s definitely a stigma there,” he said. “But it has nothing to do with it being Latin. It was to do with how clubs implement security measures. As a DJ, it really worries me when I’m not thoroughly checked at the entrance to a club, even when I’m the guest DJ.”

Candy Boy says his professional rider calls for a permanent security detail every time he performs at a club.

“But that doesn’t exempt me from having something like this happen,” he said.

The frailties of security at clubs and venues has been in stark display the last several weeks, with shootings at Irving Plaza in New York and the murder of The Voice finalist Christina Grimmie outside another Orlando nightclub. In addition, says Candy Boy, there have been several fights and shootings reported in Orlando parking lots following club nights. Last February, one man was killed after a fight broke out between gangs outside a reggaetón club.

“But a massacre inside a club? That’s ridiculous. We’re not talking about sneaking a knife inside; we’re talking about massive artillery.”

Orjuela says Live Nation is in the process of determining an approach to security moving forward and an emergency meeting has been called in the wake of the shootings.

“Our main priority is security,” he says. “We want our patrons to be able to enjoy a show and return home safely.”

In the meantime, Orjuela has yet to determine if a show by Dominican groups Ilegales and Proyecto Uno, slated for this coming June 18 at HOB, will still go on.

“As of this moment, the show has not been canceled or postponed,” he said. However, he noted, the bulk of fans who go to HOB live shows are locals, not tourists.

“I feel the people in Orlando are not ready to go back to business as usual.”

 


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