Video Library

Loisaida Center and La Sala De Pepe

Interview Jose “Pepe” Flores In a conversation with Ángel “Papote” Alvarado


About Ángel “Papote” Alvarado

Ángel “Papote” Alvarado is a percussionist, composer and singer from the historic La Cuarta neighborhood in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He is the director and founder of the musical group Grupo Esencia, as well as a cultural manager and the current organizer of the Festival Afro Caribeño del Barrio La Cuarta. In his 25-year musical career, he has collaborated with many groups and musicians of the Bomba, the Plena, and Salsa – the African-based music and dance traditions of the island. With Grupo Esencia, he has recorded several productions that have been praised by the most important music critics of the genre. The album titled “Con la fuerza de un tren” (With the Force of a Train) was nominated for the Latin Grammy Awards in 2011. In 2022, his seventh album “El tren de la sabrosura” (The Train of Joy) was awarded “Best Album of the Year” by Puerto Rico’s Fundación Nacional Para la Cultura Popular (The National Foundation for Popular Culture).

In his musical productions and concerts, he often collaborates with and presents renowned figures from the world of Salsa music, including Gilberto Santa Rosa, José Alberto “El Canario”, Pirulo, and Hector “Pichie” Pérez, among many others. Ángel “Papote” Alvarado y el Grupo Esencia has performed in several cities in the United States, most recently in Chicago and New Orleans, as well as in France and Spain, among others.

About La Sala de Pepe and it’s founders

La Sala de Pepe

La Sala de Pepe (which translates to Pepe’s livingroom), a Puerto Rican cultural center on the Lower East Side has become a community staple for people to gather and share ideas. La Sala connects artists and creatives from the neighboring Lower East Side community and Latin American countries

Jose Pepe Flores

At age 19, Pepe migrated from Puerto Rico and arrived in the Lower East Side of New York City, where he quickly became a community activist focused primarily, but not exclusively, in the areas of early childhood education, affordable housing, community gardens and public spaces. In NY, Pepe expanded his interest in music to Cuban, Jazz, Brazilian, African, etc…, significantly expanding his collection and knowledge. In the spirit of his mentors, René López, Andy González, Harry Sepúlveda and many others, as his music personal knowledge, music collection and library grew, Pepe consistently made these invaluable resources available to selected musicians and researchers sharing his love for music and respect for musicians.

What Happened at Loisaida Center

The Three Kings Performed at Loisaida Center

Loisaida Center and Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Poetry and open mic at Loisaida Center hosted by Nuyorican Poets Cafe

About Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Founded in 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Café began as a living room salon in the East Village apartment of writer and poet Miguel Algarin along with other playwrights, poets, and musicians of color whose work was not accepted by the mainstream academic, entertainment or publishing industries. By 1975, the performance poetry scene had started to become a vital element of the Puerto Rican diaspora and African-American culture marked by the release of a “Nuyorican Poetry” anthology, and Miguel Piñero’s “Short Eyes,” which was a hit on Broadway. By 1981, the overflow of audience and artists led the Café to purchase a former tenement building at 236 East 3rd Street, and to expand its activities and programs from the original space on East 6th Street.

Over the past several decades, the Café has emerged as one of the country’s most highly respected arts organizations. Our programming includes poetry slams, open mics, Latin & Contemporary Jazz and Hip Hop concerts, theatrical performances, educational programs, and visual art exhibits. Our weekly poetry slams draw thousands of spectators each year and have popularized competitive performance poetry. Our educational programs (which are funded in part by the city and state of New York) provide literacy and public speaking to thousands of students and many school groups each year. Our theater program has been awarded over 30 Audelco Awards and was honored with an OBIE Grant for Excellence in Theater.

Sounds of Loisaida