Puerto Rico in London: Salsa and Reggaeton

Puerto Rican Marco Santos tells us about Puerto Rico in London for our World in London project.

Long ago I got fed up with fantastic weather, great food and generous people and decided to leave Puerto Rico for other shores.

After years in the US, and generally wandering about, I’ve settled in London which fulfils two of the above three and adds two millennia worth of culture and history!

Still, as the song goes and like most of us who end up leaving, I do long for Viejo San Juan.

Salsa in London

“Despite a 20th century habit of emigration, you won’t find many Puerto Ricans in London. Most of us who do leave the island end up on the other side of the big pond, in New York or Florida.

What you will get in London is a big helping of our musical exports, be they pop icons (shake your bon-bons please Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin) or our sizeable contribution to the well-known musical genre of salsa, which most of us have been dancing to since we were toddlers.

Try some of your local London salsa clubs and you will no doubt hear one of our musicians: People in the know say you can always tell if there’s a “boricua” on the congas.

Reggaeton in London

More recently (well, in the last five years or so) you’ll have heard some of our more heavily street hip-grinding beats of reggeaton: seeded in Panama, developed in Puerto Rico and exploding throughout the Latin American community.

Artists like Wisin & Yandel, Don Omar, Daddy Yankee and my personal favourite Tego Calderon do make the trip and put on a wild show. Special mention reserved for cross-over artists Calle 13, who have taken a very strong political message and broader musical style and chalked up countless Grammies as a result.

Go to a gig – the energy is spectacular and you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing.  Or you can check out a reggaeton club, where you’ll likely find a higher concentration of the broader Latin community.

More Puerto Rican Culture in London

The few of us who are in London are often students or professionals and the community is so small that we don’t have any restaurants, markets or organizations.  If you know of any, I’d love to hear of them!

Do you have any more tips for sampling Puerto Rican culture in London? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Claire Doble says:

    Great stuff, this makes me want to go out dancing!

    • Bilge Morden says:

      Hi there,

      I am working with Serious, music producers and organisers of BT River of Music, a two-day free music festival that will take place the weekend before London 2012. As part of London 2012 Festival, BT River of Music will feature artists from all 205 Olympic and Paralympic nations across six stages along the River Thames.

      We are looking for artists from Puerto Rico who live in Greater London to join the choir of our new collaboration Soul Caribbean. Kevin Robinson will organise and bring together artists from all Caribbean nations in this one-off Ska and Reggae spectacular exploring Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross.

      Participants will need to be available for rehearsals late afternoon into the evening on Friday 20 July and for the performance at Tower of London on Sat 21 July.

      If you are interested, please email Amy Pearce (Associate Director – Production) at amy.pearce@serious.org.uk for more info!

      Thanks! :)

  2. La Sala is my thing! let”s hear it ring and turn up the tune cause I’m ready for the groove of the salsa music.

  3. jn says:

    :-) great to know there are other puerto ricans out there in London…..my wife is puerto rican and moving here in july and i know she would definitely find it comforting to know other puerto ricans when she arrives…..are there many more out there ????

  4. LR says:

    I too married an English man, will be moving there in July, would love to learn more on how to cope with the change. :)

  5. T says:

    I am a Londoner ,lived in the US many years, born in the UK my father is a Puerto Rican, mother Jamaican, has always been difficult finding those that relate, people often make assumptions of my ethnicity. i seem to be the only person driving around that enjoys reggaeton etc, amongst other things

  6. Jay Rico says:

    Hi am a boricua in london and i will like to meet more of my people in the uk i know there’s not allot and i will like to tell all my boris in the uk that am a club organizer promoter and i do my own events here in the uk with the real boricua mix dominican vibe just add my fb for more info Paz mi jente

    http://www.facebook.com/jayricoo

  7. Nance says:

    Great to here that we have Borinquen in the House…. just moved here in January 2011 from NY on a temporary assignment, and wondering WHERE are MI GENTE? Marco Santos..thank you for blazing this trail with your feed. I just realized I’ve got my work cut out for me. Una abrazo a todos.

  8. Raffa says:

    I have thought about moving out there myself. What type of work can a porto rock find in London?

  9. Hank Montalvo says:

    I am another Puerto Rican living near London looking to meet other Puerto Ricans in the region. What a difference from el viejo San Juan. Any interested in with another PR send me an email.

  10. El Cangri says:

    great blog Marcos – please join my Facebook group and send it to any Ricans you know here. Briti-Ricans – for Puerto Ricans in Britain http://www.facebook.com/groups/133579686716671/

  11. Roberto says:

    Hola mi gente. Finaly found a few of us here. Have been 2yrs in London. While hard to find specifict PR culture, it is easy in general to find broader Latin culture, such Colombian and Venezuelan, and salsa is indeed very popular across non Latin people.

    The food situation is harder, but most ingredients are available in local markets. Just made some “bacalaitos” and “tostones” the other day, and one can find even “gandules” in small shopes.

    The wheather is the bummer, but that’s another story

  12. Samantha says:

    Hola mi gente! Para los puertorriquenos que vivan en Londres o UK y se quieran connectar por Facebook lo puedes hacer a traves del grupo Boricuas en Londres
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/159698227380914/
    See you soon!

  13. Tatiana says:

    Heya! I’m looking for a reggaeton/salsa/son cubano place in london to celebrate my 30th birthday…. any suggestions?? Thanks.

  14. Evan Claudio says:

    Hola mi gente, just arrived to the UK, St.Annes Lytham area and looking for my Boricua brothers and sisters on this island. Se que estan por alli.

  15. E Vega says:

    Hey, I’m Puerto Rican American (from Brooklyn, wooo!) and it has been months since I’ve met even another Hispanic. I’m studying in London for my Masters Degree. It’s a bit difficult not to have people to relate to (I’ve been hoarding the adobo I had my brother send me for my birthday). I’m pretty stoked to see all of the facebook groups though, so you can bet I’ll be joining those and perhaps we can meet via that way. I miss my fellow Boriquas.

    • Julian says:

      what is it like in london im considering moving to the uk exciting for studies and a new life outside the states i hail from Brooklyn NY puerto rican as well wanna know more greatly appericate it :)amazing to see our background come so far this is awesome

    • Sylvia says:

      Hey!!! I’m from Brooklyn too!!!! I’m in Manchester but we should keep in touch!!!! Email me :) sylvialasalle@gmail.com

      • alexandra says:

        Yes yes yes. Let’s get together. I miss NY and my Puerto Ricans. London is way too ‘proper’ for me. I’ve been here since October and have not had rice or beans. I too had my grandparents ship me Goya adobo and cubitos. I’m 34 work in banking and live in east london.

      • Sylvia says:

        Hey Alexandra. I’m 28 and a teacher but not for long lol. Email me so we can arrange something!!!!

  16. LJG says:

    Fellow Puerto Ricans…im opening up a puerto rican restaurant in London.. I myself am from NYC and born in Arecibo Puerto Rico.

    details to follow soon!!!!

  17. Kiri says:

    Hi Im a Londoner born and raises but PR is my second home and I would love to meet up with people who share my love for this island. The restaurant sounds greAt! Cant wait for the details ! It would make me so happy to find arroz con habichuelas in London!! :)

  18. Julian says:

    Hey wassup hailing from Brooklyn NY im puerto rican im looking to move to the UK doing my research
    im a aviation major in progress hopefully to work for british airways im 23 wanna know more youtube and google can only do so much let me know whas goin down thanks so much :) happy holidays

  19. Dana Kavanagh says:

    I currently life in Shropshire and I miss Puerto Rico, just the going out with friends to the beach and the heat and sunny days.

  20. Liana says:

    To Julian;
    OMG!! :-O Another Jamarican in the UK? No!! I thought we were the only family here.. A restaurant would be a dream but the question is how busy would it be unless theres more of us we didnt know about.. Not sure what would make anyone leave good weather to come and freeze here but welcome none the less..

  21. Csilla says:

    Hola,

    Me podrias decirem donde pueado ir a bailar reggeaton en Londres. Me encanta muchissimo.

    Gracias tenerte aqui en londres.

    Saludos

    Csilla

  22. Marta says:

    I live in the middle of nowhere West Midlands smack dab in the centre of England, too far from the south where most PR’s are, too far from north where others are. Tengo una pagina en Facebook if anyone feels lonely like I’ve had and still do. Me hace tanta falta la comida! https://www.facebook.com/marta.blanco.969

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