Finding an event for the Venezuelan community in the Dallas cultural offering was difficult just three years ago. But with the massive arrival of Venezuelans to North Texas, entertainment options are growing.
Flower Mound resident Juan Miguel Esaa noticed the influx of immigrants from his home country and say they share a similar feeling: "the need to reclaim a little bit of our thing," he says.
That's why he decided to organize an event for Venezuelans in December 2015 — a concert by Pedro Castillo, from a band called Aditus, at Zaguán Bakery & Café in Dallas.
The following year, he opted for a comedian, David González, widely known in social media as David Comedia.
Both shows were a success, and soon, the location became too small for all the newly-arriving Venezuelans looking for entertainment — and to reconnect with their culture.
"The Venezuelan immigrant, as a general rule, is always busy. Many of them hold two jobs and have little time left for fun," says Esaa, 47, who has a business administration degree. "However, they're always ready to spend time with family and friends and enjoy a good show for laughs."
Esaa decided to look for new, larger locations and created Pipo Productions LLC, a company focused on providing entertainment alternatives for Venezuelans in North Texas since May 2017.
Pipo Productions has brought Venezuelan comedians with long-established careers in their country like Laureano Márquez, Emilio Lovera, George Harris, Moncho Martínez, Nelly Pujols, Érika de La Vega and Luis Chataing.
He has also put musical shows together.
Esaa was the organizing force behind concerts by El Pollo Brito, Jorge Glem, Miguelito Díaz, Frank Quintero, Pedro Castillo, Yordano, Ilan Chester, Kiara and Karina.
About 6,893 Venezuelans are estimated to live in Dallas, according to the latest Census data (2017), although the real number is believed to be much higher.
A time for reunion
Luis Alfonso Chirinos also became aware of Venezuelans' desire to find entertainment in Dallas.
DJ Chirinos organized a welcoming party for recently-arrived Venezuelan immigrants on Dec. 9, 2017. That was the beginning of "Reencuentros Venezolanos," a celebration created to reunite their community.
"That first get-together took place at a friend's house in Arlington. We had such a great time, we decided to repeat it," says Chirinos, a Dallas resident.
"We got so many people, we started doing it at a commercial locale. For the fifth meeting, we brought in Nacho, and we're already going for the sixth reunion on Dec. 14, an event to celebrate Christmas with family."
Chirinos describes Venezuelans as a "fun, cool, rumba-loving" crowd.
He credits those traits for the large audience he gets at CasaBlanca Cantina & Grill, where "rumba heats up with good music and the best atmosphere" on Fridays and Saturdays.
Another entertainment option increasingly favored by Venezuelans, especially those from Western part of the country, is the Colombo-Venezuelan nights at Restaurante Las Palmas in Addison, with live music with "Parranda Vallenata" on Thursdays.
The band is led by Orlando Simancas, 37, a Venezuelan musician living in Carrollton.
He is a former member of Bacanos, a band which enjoyed great success from 2003 to 2008 in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
His passion for music and the accordion led him to create Parranda Vallenata.
Since four months ago, "each week, we get hired by ever more Venezuelans and Colombians. We already even celebrated an American's birthday. He listened to our music at another party, he loved it, and his wife called us up."
For Simancas, the potential for expansion is there, and comes in the form of an integration opportunity with other cultures converging in North Texas.
- Vacilando Entre Panas. Dec. 7 at MCM Grand Theater, Lewisville
- Huáscar Barradas. Dec. 8 at CasaBlanca Cantina & Grill, Addison
- Gran Gala Navideña. Dec. 14 at Dallas Event Center, Farmers Branch
- Gran Fiesta de Fin de Año. Dec. 29 at Dallas Event Center, Farmers Branch