Christmas in the Tropics

Eric Thompson Photography.  Join Bululú for a festive concert of tropical holiday music this Friday.

Christmas in the Tropics

Whether one personally celebrates a particular holiday tradition or not, it can always be fun to experience the celebrations of another culture.

On Friday, Dec. 20, Rhythmix will celebrate the holiday season Caribbean-style with musical group Bululú. This multi-talented 11-piece Bay Area band specializes in the musical traditions of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Bululú and Rhythmix will host a full-on holiday fiesta, parranda navideña, featuring all the Caribbean music and Venezuelan food just right for the season. 

In the Caribbean and Latin America, the Christmas holidays are a time for festive celebrations with lots of music, food and dance. In Venezuela, gaitas are one of the most popular musical traditions during the Christmas holidays and are considered to be the official holiday music of the entire country. This traditional musical style hails from Maracaibo in the Western state of Zulia. Gaitas can be heard for several months leading up to the holiday season and their unique overlapping 4/4 and 6/8 rhythms create a driving tension that is both exciting and deeply grounding.

A variety of energetic calypso, Colombian cumbia, Puerto Rican parrandas, Latin salsa, Venezuelan merengue and aguinaldos will be performed throughout the evening. A special treat awaits for those who stay for both sets of music; a chance to experience tambor, an Afro-Venezuelan music and “partner” dance highlighting the traditional Afro-Venezuelan tambores (percussion). This is a particularly fun “couples” dance utilizing fast hip movements where anyone is free to bump in and try to “steal” a dance with a new partner. It can get quite competitive, so get ready. 

If you’re a little intimidated hearing about all these new dance and music styles, don’t worry. Included with admission is a free dance lesson offered by local instructor, Lynda Gutierrez. Of Colombian descent, Gutierrez will show everyone how to get sassy with their cumbia and put some style in their salsa dance moves. She promises to keep the excitement going after the lesson and make sure dancers don’t miss a step!

Finally, everyone knows that a good holiday party is not complete without food, and Adry’s Bakery San Francisco will be serving up a number of Venezuelan holiday favorites. Pan de jamon (a rolled puffed-pastry Christmas bread filled with ham, cheese, green olives and raisins), taqueños (a cheese-filled puff pastry), marquesas chocolate (chocolate dessert) and homemade arepas (cornmeal patties with a variety of fillings) are just a few of the offerings that will be available for purchase.

Please join us for this special year-end fiesta and celebrate the holidays tropical-style. All-ages are welcome to attend, so bring the whole family to share in the festivities.

The Tropical Dance Party with Bululú takes place this Friday, Dec. 20, at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave. The dance lesson and food offerings begin at 7 p.m, and the dance party with live music starts at 8 p.m.

Tickets and more information available at or 865-5060.


Jennifer Radakovich is assistant director at Rhythmix Cultural Works.