¡Viva la raza! (Long live hispanic heritage!) It’s officially National Hispanic Heritage Month and Denver has quite a few options for celebrating. According to the most recent information provided by the United States Census Bureau, more than 20 percent of Denver’s population is made up of Hispanics and it continues to grow. It also indicated that Hispanics make up 17 percent of the nation’s total population, making people of Hispanic origin the largest ethnic minority in the country.
The United States has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month for almost 50 years. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the week of September 15 as Hispanic Heritage Week. It was established in order to honor the independence anniversary of a number of Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18.
Twenty years after the birth of Hispanic Heritage Week, President Ronald Regan decided to expand the celebration to encompass a full 30 days, proclaiming September 15 through October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. To this day, Hispanic communities across the nation recognize and celebrate the history and life of this rich culture and everything it has brought to our great nation. Check out our list of events happening throughout Denver in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
El Latir de México
When: September 15, 7 p.m.
Where: Boettcher Concert Hall, 1000 14th St, Denver
The Lowdown: To kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Mexican Cultural Center, the Consulate General of Mexico in Denver, the Colorado Symphony and the Metropolitan State University of Denver have come together to bring you the fifth annual “El Latir de México” (The Beat of Mexico). In honor of the 206th anniversary of Mexico’s independence, this free community concert will feature music from a number of renowned Mexican composers, several Mexican musical performances and dances from Fiesta Colorado Dance Company. Tickets can be picked up at the Boettcher Concert Hall box office and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Chicano Murals of Denver
When: September 22, 10 a.m-3 p.m.
Where: Downtown Denver
Cost: $39 members, $50 non-members
The Lowdown: You can take a tour through Hispanic history just by walking through the neighborhoods of Denver. History Colorado is offering a guided bus tour of Denver to admire Hispanic-inspired murals located around the city, starting with the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood which maintains a very strong Latino identity and is home to the Art District on Santa Fe. These murals capture Denver’s Hispanic pride in a powerful and contemporary way.
When: September 22–25
Where: Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E Colfax Ave, Denver
Tickets: Available here
The Lowdown: CineLatino is a four-day film festival hosted by the Denver Film Society at the Sie Film Center. It celebrates the contributions of Latino culture in the film industry. The festival will include screenings of 15 popular Latino films and will have both features and documentaries. Nacho Libre, Camino a La Paz, Neruda and a number of short films from Mexico are a few of the movies included in the four-day event. For a full listing of the films being featured check out DenverFilm.org.
Dia de Los Muertos Art Show
When: October 1, 6 -9 p.m.
Where: Brighton Armory Performing Arts Center, 300 Strong St, Brighton
The Lowdown: The Brighton Armory Performing Arts Center, in conjunction with the Chicano Humanities and Arts Center (CHAC), is hosting a “Dia de Los Muertos” art show, where there will be traditional dance performances by the Aztec dance troupe Huitzilopochtli. Though Dia de Los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” doesn’t take place until the end of October, in order to honor Mexican history there will be a beautiful display of sugar skulls along with food and drinks.
When: October 1, 1:30 -2 p.m.
Where: History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, Denver
Cost: Free w/ general admission
The Lowdown: “Vaqueros,” or Spanish cowboys, actually originated on the Iberian Peninsula, but their methodology eventually made its way to Mexico and then later became the foundation for cowboys in North America. History Colorado is bringing you a glimpse of these horse-mounted cattle herders in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Catch a traditional vaquero performance and get a feel for life in old-timey Latino culture.
Salsa and Bachata Lessons
When: Wednesdays, 7 p.m.
Where: Denver Turnverein, 1570 Clarkson, Denver
Cost: $5 members, $10 non-members
The Lowdown: Courtesy of Salsa Central Denver, you can enjoy salsa and bachata dance lessons every Wednesday evening. SCD was founded in 1996 and with the intention of bringing salsa dance into the Denver area and building a culturally-centered Hispanic community. Each Wednesday night there are dance lessons, food, beverages and good company. At the end of the evening, there is a community dance during which you can show off your newly practiced salsa moves. The SCD staff is comprised entirely of volunteers who do what they do simply because of their love for dancing.
Denver has an abundance of resources for the Hispanic community in addition to the resources listed above. For starters, Latin Life Denver is a media organization that provides news and entertainment to Denver’s Hispanic communities and is a good place to search for events happening within the Hispanic communities. The Chicano Humanities and Arts Center (CHAC) is an organization that often hosts fun events and provides educational information to maintain Hispanic pride throughout the Denver area. The Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization (CLLARO) works to better the hispanic communities and rid Denver of disparities in education, health, economic status, decision-making and leadership in both the public and private sectors. Denver’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is designed to promote and advance Hispanic businesses, and the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado is a philanthropic organization dedicated to the betterment of the Hispanic community through financial donations. Check out some of these resources in the upcoming weeks to join the nation in recognizing and celebrating the incredible contributions of Latino culture to our society.