Like most locals who grew up in Miami, music publicist Alberto Piedrahita couldn't help but feel underwhelmed by the monotony of the city's nightlife, which seemed to lack the rich sounds of his childhood.
"Living in Miami, you get to experience the nightlife, and a few years ago, I felt like there was a void there," explains Piedrahita, who works for Universal Music Latino. "You go out to various places in Miami, whether it's in Wynwood or elsewhere, and it all seems very cookie-cutter, especially on the urban side. There was a distinct lack of variety in terms of reggaeton and its subgenres, and the nightlife scene just seemed like it needed more diversity."
After relocating to Los Angeles for his new job and joining forces with his colleagues, Piedrahita recognized that the lively Latin music scene thriving on the West Coast had a long-overdue place in the 305. Inspired by traveling DJ collectives like Pangea Sound and Soulection, the traveling reggaeton rave Tumbao was born.
The name for the Miami-grown Latin block party draws inspiration from the Afro-Latino roots of the word "tumbao," made famous by the late Cuban legend Celia Cruz. It typically refers to one's inner rhythm or groove, which is precisely what Tumbao promises to embody for anyone who sets foot on its dance floor. Many of Tumbao's rhythms and sounds are deeply influenced by this African and Latin diaspora, celebrating genres such as reggaeton, dembow, dancehall, salsa, afro beats, and more, all hosted by Miami DJ collective 4You.
In just two short years since its humble beginning in Miami, Tumbao has expanded to other cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Mexico City, and Medellín. Now, with its second-anniversary celebration set for Saturday, November 4, at Skatebird Miami, Tumbao is poised to make a triumphant return to its hometown, bigger and better than ever.
"It was incredibly emotional to introduce Tumbao to a city like Medellín, for example, especially considering the massive popularity of reggaeton there, and because of my Colombian heritage," Piedrahita says. "I have a profound respect for the Colombian people's love for reggaeton, especially the old-school classics. Selling out on our very first attempt with this new concept was genuinely humbling. After experiencing all of this, I felt the need to channel that positive energy back to Miami, which is going to be a monumental undertaking."
"The event is designed to be accessible," Piedrahita explains. "I want people from all walks of life to experience this, and I want them to feel free to express themselves in their own unique way. To be honest, I'm not certain if we'll generate any revenue from this event. We're investing a substantial amount of our own resources into it as our gift to the city."
Instead of paying a cover, attendees can support local Latino-owned businesses in attendance. KRK Audio, Tres Gen Tequila, Casalu, and sponsors like Spotify will be present, offering a range of products and experiences alongside the popping dance floor.
While Tumbao conjures up images of energetic, sweaty hip-shaking under the open sky, it's also a dedicated platform to connect with new talent on and off the stage. For Piedrahita, this is the real heart and soul behind the creation that has brought people from several cities together in the spirit of groove.
On November 4, all are welcome to have a good time, sweat it out, take a few shots, and revel in the ultimate party that nourishes the purest Y2K reggaeton nostalgia.
"I'm thrilled because we're reinvesting a lot back into the community with Tumbao," Piedrahita says. "All of our vendors are local, and the people behind the artwork, printing, audio, lighting, and more are all from the community. I feel a responsibility to give back to our roots and the people who have supported us. Everyone is contributing their part to make this event a reality, and we are incredibly grateful for their support."
Tumbao. 6 p.m. Saturday, November 4, at Skatebird Miami, 533 NE 83rd St., El Portal; 305-603-8015; skatebirdmiami.com. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.