When artists such as Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira achieved mainstream success in the United States during the late 1990s, the moment marked a major shift in how the American public perceived Latin acts. Latin music (the music industry's broad term for music that comes from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking areas of the world) was slowly becoming a part of a broader conversation in popular culture and acted as a bellwether for the cultural and demographic changes the nation has since undergone. Now, in the years following the remarkable success of Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber’s "Despacito" duet, artists such as J Balvin and Bad Bunny have become pop music powerhouses even while sticking to delivering their vocals in Spanish.
It's no coincidence this second wave recently crested when Balvin and Bunny joined OGs Shakira and J.Lo onstage for the Super Bowl LIV halftime show in Miami.
But before Balvin and Bunny, as the first Latin music boom was winding down in the early 2000s and genres such as pop and salsa had enjoyed their turns in the spotlight, one group emerged from the South Bronx to take the Dominican dance sound of bachata to the mainstream.
In the late ’90s, brothers Romeo, Lenny, Henry, and Max Santos were working hard to get their family bachata group off the ground. When they, as the band Aventura, released their debut album in late 2000, Latinos — and Dominicans specifically — began to take note of the group’s efforts to elevate bachata to the same level of recognition enjoyed by other pop- and radio-ready sounds in the States. By the time the breakout single “Obsesión” (with vocals by sister Judy Santos) arrived two years later, Aventura had become a bona fide boy band for bachata lovers both stateside and abroad.
Finally, bachata and its adherents had found their place amid the Latin boom.
The group notched hundreds of thousands of album sales throughout the early 2000s before the release of its last LP — 2009's appropriately titled The Last — and the subsequent launch of Romeo Santos’ solo career. He spent the 2010s releasing successful albums such as Formula Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 as well as last year’s Utopía. The April 2019 record was promoted through the Aventura reunion single "Inmortal" as well as a record-breaking concert at MetLife Stadium with special guests such as fellow Bronx Dominican Cardi B.
Though “Inmortal” was initially teased as Aventura's proper return before Romeo revealed it to be a solo Utopía cut, it turned out the single indeed was a sign of things to come. Aventura — with its complete original lineup intact — embarked on the Inmortal reunion tour last month, re-energized by Romeo Santos’ success as a solo artist.
Aventura’s Inmortal Tour will take over the American Airlines Arena for two nights: Tuesday, March 10, and Thursday, March 12. Though New York's Dominican population dwarves that of Miami, Latinos of all origins are excited to show their love for the Bronx-bred group in the Magic City: Both shows are already sold-out, and only resale tickets remain available for purchase.
Above all else, the Inmortal Tour seems to chiefly be an act of fan service; as far as we know, the group isn’t touring in promotion of an upcoming album. For as happy as Aventura fans might be, the biggest winner — at least financially — may prove to be Romeo, because Utopía continues to enjoy a spot on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart nearly a year after its release. The group's longevity was never really in question: In 2017, Aventura sold-out Madison Square Garden for a reunion concert, and the hype around "Inmortal" last year and this accompanying tour speaks to the quartet's ability to excite longtime fans.
Regardless of whether you hail from the Dominican diaspora or not, the show's popularity illustrates that even as reggaeton continues to dominate the Latin-pop discourse, Miami's broad coalition of Latin nationalities continues to love Aventura and its brand of bachata. At this point, a full-fledged comeback record would only sweeten the deal: As it stands, the Inmortal Tour has already ensured Aventura’s immortality among new fans and old.
Aventura: Inmortal Tour. 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, and Thursday, March 12, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; aaarena.com. Resale tickets start at $84 via ticketmaster.com.