Though few, my childhood memories are quite vivid. One of those (without aging myself too much) are of my imaginary friends— all five of them. I still recall forcing my parents to eat on our red children’s table in our tiny Isla Verde apartment in Puerto Rico because Ricky (the original), Charlie, Rene, Johnny, and Xavier deserved royal treatment. Yes, being a child of very little creativity, I took on every single member of a then fledging band — Menudo — as figments of my imagination. Except they weren’t, and the tiny little band went on to become one of the biggest Latino bands in the 80s.
Menudomania plagued children and adults alike. Biebermania has nothing on the kind of craze they elicited. Kind of creepy, actually. They were 80s Michael Jackson huge. Heck, they even announced the King of Pop’s Grammy in 1984 when he won for E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Through the years, Menudo didn’t only produce hit after hit, it also started the careers of a few beloved singers, including Ricky Martin (who replaced my beloved original Ricky) and Robi “Draco” Rosa. Those were good times.
I am not ashamed to say that I held on to the band through the years (yes even the Abel years). I was first row – as close to first row as a college salary allows – when some of the members came together years ago for the famous El Re-encuentro. They donned the same kind of spandex that made them so sexy during their teens. Sure, the Menudos I saw then were a bit out of shape and showed some wear and tear, but the energy in the room was palpable. They transported hundreds of us back to the 80s in a way I had never experienced. Menudo as a band had been churning new little Menudos through the years, replacing the older members with younger singers. Ultimately, they fizzled out until the success of the original band truly felt like a figment of our collective imagination.
Fast forward to this week and the original members are back to play in NYC again, 17 years after they last played in the city. They will be playing July 17th at Beacon Theater, as part of efforts to bring a host of other hot Latino acts of the 80s to the city. As soon as I learned the news my heart started beating like a cannonball, crazed by the thought of finally getting to watch my idols delight us with some of the hits of yesteryears. Chiquitita, Subete a mi Moto, Y Yo No Bailo, Si tu No Estas, LLuvia, oh My!
A word of advice, ditch the Spandex this time. We’ll deal.
Tickets to El Re-Encuentro are available here.