ECHO PARK — Every May for about the past two decades the Presencia Cubana – aka the Cuban Music Festival – at Echo Park Lake has filled the park with the sights and rhythms of Cuban culture. But not this year. Organizers have cancelled the festival, blaming Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and the Recreation & Parks Department for imposing new regulations that prevent the installation of a dance floor in the park. “Unfortunately you cannot have a dance party with a bunch of Cubans without a dance floor,” said a posting on Presencia Cubana en Los Angeles Facebook page.
The dance floor ban is designed to protect the grassy areas around Echo Park Lake, which reopened in 2013 after a two-year-long, $45-million renovation, said Tony Arranaga, spokesman for Councilman O”Farrell. Large sections of the grass have had to be replanted and fenced off periodically since the park reopened to allow it time to grow strong enough to withstand heavy use. But apparently the grass is not tough enough to withstand a dance floor packed with dancers moving to the beat of salsa and rumba.
“Dance floors and other hard surfaces are no longer permitted directly on the grass,” Arranaga said.
Last year the festival and dancing took place on the street next to the park, according to organizers. This year, city officials said the festival could once again be held in the north end of the park but without a dance floor. Without a dance floor, festival organizers decided to walk away from this year’s event, which would have taken place this coming weekend.
“We need a proper dance floor,” said a posting on the Presencia Facebook page.
Organizers now say they are looking into alternatives to resume the festival next year.
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