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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 16, 2024


April 19, 2002 – The music was bright, spirits were high and feet were light Thursday night as Latin music fans gathered at Lionel Roberts Stadium — and then, when the power went out, proved they were there for the duration.
Latin Night, one of the newer additions to the Carnival calendar, has become almost an instant hit, with modest but festive crowds willing to brave rain — which pelted the stage last year as the salsa band played on — and a blackout this year.
Those who came to the jam gave evidence of efforts by the V.I. Carnival Committee to promote the event on neighboring islands. A number of Puerto Ricans who traveled to St. Thomas by pleasure boat joined in the fete, with some expected to make a long weekend of it and stay for Sunday's scheduled boat races on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront, a Carnival event that often attracts entries from Puerto Rico.
But also evident in the crowd were Virgin Islanders fully appreciative of their Hispanic neighbors' culture. "I feel the music because I also play it," master of ceremonies Irvin "Brownie" Brown said. "This is the only music we used to get when we were small, on the radio, so we got used to it."
Many like Brown came to love the sweet sounds of high-voltage salsa and the rhythmic merengue, both featured at Thursday's Latin Night show. Raymond Francis, who came down the hill from his home on Skyline Drive with wife, Donia, said he loved the Afro-Cuban drummers the most. "They always reference Africa in the music," he said.
Salsa superstar Gilberto Santa Rosa was wrapping up his performance before a joyful crowd waving Puerto Rican flags and breaking out in dance when the sound and the lights went out. A moan of disappointment rose from the audience as police and volunteers moved their cars into position to illumine the field with their headlights.
Peaceful and patient, the fans stood chatting, some lining up for non-stop service at the snack bars. Backstage, musicians took a breather while organizers awaited the arrival of an emergency service crew from the Water and Power Authority.
"Some electrical wiring burned, I think by the Federal Building, that affected the system down here," Caswil Callender, Carnival Committee chair, said. The moment the power went off, he said, "I called the WAPA emergency number, and they responded immediately."
When the lights went back up, so did a cheer. After a quick check by technicians, the sound director gave the stage a thumbs up, and Latin Night was back on, barely missing a beat as couples in the crowd rolled their hips in spontaneous appreciation.

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