On Saturday May 17th, the Argentine community of Washington DC was out in full force at the 2014 Festival Argentino USA, commemorating its 27th year in celebration of el Día de la Patria, or Argentina National Day. The event took place at Thomas Jefferson Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. Shortly after the doors opened at 4pm, festivalgoers quickly began to fill the venue.
As you walked in the doors, various tables were set up, selling crafts and souvenirs, such as jewelry, posters, sweaters, and 2014 World Cup Argentina jerseys. In addition to Argentina, different South American countries, such as Chile and Bolivia were represented. There was also a raffle to win a trip to Buenos Aires.
While waiting for the show to begin, people took advantage of browsing the different tables set up inside, and then went outside where an asado (Argentine bbq) of chorizo was being prepared. People snacked on foods such as spinach, chicken and beef empanadas, alfajores, and choripan. In addition, there was also a smoothie stand from Valencia Café Smoothies serving fresh fruits and smoothies. I ordered a mango/banana smoothie, and it was the perfect accent to accompany my empanadas and chori. Lines were long at first, but began to die down as the show time was nearing.
At around 6pm, after everyone got their food, people began to process into the theatre where the show was opened up by tango dancers, Liza & Alexey Semyonov. Following their performance, were other various tango dancers including Patricio Lizarraga & Natalie Fricke also graced the stage. The lineup of performances included folklore singers and dancers, tango singers, rock and folk music, among other performances. One of most memorable artists of the night was tango singer, Roberto Leiva, who joined the festival straight from Buenos Aires. Performing audience favorites such as “Mi Buenos Aires Querido”, “Bailemos”, and “Naranjo en Flor”, Leiva serenaded the crowd with his powerful, passionate, and captivating voice.
Another crowd favorite was folk-rock singer, Dario Chiesa, from the Santa Fe province in Argentina, who sang various songs including my personal favorite, “La Felicidad esta muy profundo adentro tuyo”. I had never heard the song before, but I immediately fell in love with it. The crowd was singing along, clapping, and all around having a great time.
The night began to wrap up around 10:30pm as the winner of the raffle was announced. I unfortunately did not win, but that’s OK, I enjoyed my time at the festival, (as I usually do with all things Argentine) and I will definitely be going back next year. Next time, however, I will plan on going by la hora Latina, and showing up a bit later as things didn’t really get started until 6pm.