It’s time to take back the dance floor: Boricua singer iLe performing at La Terraza in Detroit

iLe. Photo by Steph Segarra

UPDATE: As of 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12, iLe’s publicist has confirmed with Tostada Magazine that the show has been canceled citing issues with the venue, and will not be rescheduled. We apologize to anyone who was hoping to attend the event.

It’s been three years (lifetimes) since I attended my last concert.

It was the Bomba Estéreo show at El Club with special guest RV Mendoza. There’s this intoxicating aura that overcomes you on the night of a concert. The precision involved in perfecting your wingtips, the selection of just the right sexy (but not too sexy) outfit. Hopping in the Lyft. Greeting your girlfriend by the ticket window.

Inside, there’s this sticky energy in the air, punctuated by the glitter of a disco ball. Everyone’s dancing, sweating, singing along as your idol belts out lyrics you’ve lipsynced to yourself a thousand times in the mirror.

I’ve missed those moments.

Pandemic concerts these past 18-plus months have involved cranking the family dance party segments on WDET’s “Culture Shift” for a daily afternoon dance break in sweats, hair in a sloppy bun, with the dog in the living room. 

So when I learned that Puerto Rican singer iLe (Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar) would be gracing the stage at Detroit’s very own La Terraza on Oct. 6 (as part of her 15-city tour across the continental United States) well, I just about cried with joy. An intimate performance at one of my favorite purveyors of quesabirria? Yes please.

Finally, an excuse to crawl out of my cobija cocoon, dust off the party clothes, and hit the dance floor. Just please don’t laugh at my lack of rhythm — I’m a little rusty.

iLe and I connected last month as she was driving around in her hometown in San Juan. It seemed a little awkward for both of us, but not in an anxiety-inducing way. It felt more of a giddy first-day-of-school sensation.

Like many of us, iLe has spent the last year and a half adjusting to WFH life. She built a mini studio in her home. She spends a lot of time with family. (For the uninitiated, iLe began her music career as a backup singer for her brothers René “Residente” Pérez Joglar and Eduardo “Visitante” Cabra Joglar. They make up one of the most popular hip-hop groups in Latin music, Calle 13.)

She’s been writing a lot, working on a new album. The tour is a way for her to test out her new sounds, and reconnect with an audience starving for the return of live shows.

“I’m grateful to have music by my side because it’s therapeutic for me,” says iLe. “Working on my new album has been a super new process for me, trying to do something without having any idea about what’s going to happen next.”

iLe’s rise as a soloist came in 2016, with the release of her debut album — iLevitable — inspired by the classic boleros of the Caribbean (and informed by her own family’s musical history — her grandmother wrote music herself back in the day). She earned her first Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist from that album and the accolades have continued since.

In 2019, she teamed up with her brother Residente and Bad Bunny to perform “Afilando Los Cuchillos,” a protest song released in response to Puerto Rico’s corrupt governor Ricardo Roselló.

“It was very emotional, you know, and very exciting to see the people listening to the song in the protest and feeling very identified with the song,” she says.

This time around, iLe describes her new material as having more of an Afro-Caribbean vibe, while also infusing a sound that embraces the crazy times we’re living in.

As for going on tour in the middle of a pandemic, iLe says she’s both excited and a little scared, but also looking forward to traveling together with her bandmates and visiting places they’ve not been to before.

Places like Detroit.

“I always get excited to find a new audience, every time you get a chance to meet Latinos from the states, you feel a very nice energy,” she says. “I’m looking forward to feeling as free as I can be on stage, even though we’re, we’re living in these times. I hope that the audience feels the same, that we’re trying to find a way to release everything that we’ve been feeling with the music.”

iLe will perform Oct. 6 at La Terraza (8445 West Vernor Highway), along with Adel Ruelas featuring Luna, with special guest Héctor Romero Zamora. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $35. For more information, click here.

This article was made possible by the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, a project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, that’s working to increase quality journalism and help better inform communities.

Serena Maria Daniels

Author: Serena Maria Daniels

Serena Maria Daniels is the co-founder and head chingona of Tostada Magazine. She is an award-winning journalist based in Detroit and specializes on the intersection of food, identity, and culture.

Find her on Twitter and Instagram @serenamaria36!

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