Classic salsero gets St. Mary’s Park dancing

By Vianey Alderete Contreras. Joe Bataan performs at St. Mary's Park on July 13.

By Vianey Alderete Contreras. Joe Bataan performs at St. Mary’s Park on July 13.

Joe Bataan performed as part of SummerStage 2016

Some 200 people waited for hours under a light rain, for a good spot to see legendary salsero Joe Bataan perform at St. Mary’s Park on July 13th. The free concert was one of 115 being put on through the City Parks Foundation SummerStage 2016 Arts Festival.

Summerstage 2016 brought music to the Bronx throughout early July, first at Crotona Park before moving on to St. Mary’s Park on July 12, where events were staged nightly through July 17.

“I love it because it turns back my clock,” said Angela Lopez, after attending the concert with her friend Betty Soto. It wasn’t the first time the two have gone to see salsa’s most famous Filipino-American playing live in New York.

A native of Spanish Harlem, Bataan began performing in the ’60s with his band, Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers. In the ’70s, his famous salsoul sound and record label of the same name were established. In 1979, his rap record “Rap-O Clap-O” hit the charts in the US and Europe.

Known as “The King of Latin R&B,”his hits include “Subway Joe,” “Gypsy Woman,” and “Ordinary Guy.”

“We love and dance. We are salseras,” said Soto, adding that Bataan’s records are still highly regarded among salsa dancers.

Lopez said salsa concerts help bring back memories of her youth spent with her husband of 48 years, who stayed home this time around. “I remember this like yesterday, we went through all this music,” she said.

Another of Bataan’s fans, Sonia Santiago, sat waiting to hear Bataan hours before the concert was set to begin. Santiago said that while she always comes to take advantage of the free concerts put on by the city, salsa concerts are her favorite.

“In Crotona Park the music was not as good because they did not have a lot of salsa performers. We love salsa, and that was more American music,” said Santiago. She added she recently attended the Johnny Rivera concert and was looking forward to hearing Tito Rojas the following day.

Santiago’s friend Hector Camacho said SummerStage musical show are can’t-miss events. “The flavor doesn’t change,” he said.

“We support it, because if people don’t come to these events, performers don’t come here,” said Lopez.