Echo Park’s Cuban Music Festival left without a place to dance

New grass was planted around Echo Park Lake in 2013

New grass was planted around Echo Park Lake in 2013

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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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  1. bring it to Boyle Heights!

  2. Unfortunate, but necessary. I wonder what they’ll do with the Lotus Festival this year? The grass was destroyed from all the vendors on the lawn last year and they just got it looking good again.

    • Yes, I was about to say the thing. If this festival has to be thwarted, the Lotus Festival should not even be a close call – as they have a lot more on the grass for that, including a sizable stage and lots of heavy amusement rides.

      I wonder if the Asian-Pacific Island community will get the same treatment as the Cuban community. Gee, they let the Lotus Festival on the grass last year! If so, the Lotus festival can’t be held there. If not, then there’s something wrong about what they are doing to the Cubans.

      There’s also something wrong if after two years, the grass is still not rooted enough!

      • The Councilman and Parks/Rec should -definitely- eliminate all “festivals” that destroy the park.
        The Lotus pond in bloom is truly beautiful, but the surrounding “festival” is an eyesore that
        trashes the park. It’s a truly obnoxious event. Time for it to end.

  3. I don’t get it…last year they had dancing in the street. Its not clear from the article why they aren’t doing that again. Was that the organizers’ decision or did they city say they couldn’t do it?

    • on facebook the organizers are saying the city would not let them have the dance floor in the street this year.

      this setup seemed to work fine last year.

  4. A lot of the plantings bordering the edge of the lake have been destroyed by people walking on them – notice the areas of bare wood chips. The lotuses will soon be blooming again, and I suspect the onslaught of photographers will bring more destruction (as it did last year). I almost find it ironic – celebrating the beauty of nature while wrecking it .

  5. Can they not do some sort of raised dance floor that has limited contact with the grass? Love the Cuban festival! it’s part of the neighborhood culture!

  6. in the time of drought with mandatory rationing why are we being so precious about a grassy park?

  7. robert del campo

    Bullshit!! Dancing is a requierment until you die. i’ve danced in Echo Park for 20 years…Have the fesitval and we’ll find a place to dance!

  8. Recs and Parks are killing the festival just like they are killing the Greek theatre. They don’t know how to manage their facilities in a way that allows the people to enjoy them.

  9. I think Parks and Rec should wrap the whole park up in plastic like my grammy used to do with her furniture.

    I know, I know you are jealous of my aristocratic background…

  10. Bring it to long beach

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