As soon as “no quiero mantequilla ni canciones de amor” starts playing, Latine fans know that it’s Menudo. This boy band wonder, which started in Puerto Rico and took Latin America by storm, remains to this day the golden standard for music from our communities. It’s fun. It’s upbeat. And it’s undoubtedly catchy, no matter what age you are. That’s why seeing Menudo at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC is like stepping into a time capsule of what once was.
Even before Johnny Lozada, Ash Ruiz, Ray Acevedo, and others took the stage on the HBO Max float to promote the documentary Menudo: Forever Young, you could tell that they were gearing up for something spectacular, that felt like it’s been a long time coming, and that felt like coming home. Lozada himself said that, “Coming to the Puerto Rican Parade is something marvelous. Not only that, when you put that together with the Tribeca Festival where we presented Menudo: Forever Young and the men I haven’t seen in ages, this has turned into a party.”
Ash Ruiz, who had the most infectious energy and was ready to connect with fans and dance with them just like Lozada was, echoed this statement and was happy to be there for the Puerto Rican Day Parade. “It feels amazing being back and I love these guys so much.” He went on to say that he was excited for “the humanity of people loving each other” and how it was going to be “so powerful.” And the premiere of HBO Max’s Menudo: Forever Young was going to hopefully connect with people in the way that it did to him because it was a “cohesive and harmonious” take on their journeys.
This energy that the members of Menudo were sharing for their fans in anticipation of the parade, and the release of Menudo: Forever Young, came back at them triple fold when they boarded the parade float. Their fans were shocked that they were experiencing a group that they had idolized and grown up with. So they threw themselves into cheering, screaming, and dancing with Menudo as hard as they could, the smiles on their faces as big as the ones on the Menudo members’ faces. And just for a moment, as the boy band and fans connected, it felt like we weren’t in 2022. Everyone was teenagers again, enjoying music that connected with our hearts.
That’s what makes Menudo so special, why their appearance at the Puerto Rican day parade felt like a party from start to finish, and why the exploration of their journey in HBO Max’s Menudo: Forever Young is so important. Because it wasn’t easy, it never is when taking on the world at a young age and joining a boy band. And there are parts of this journey that will pull back the cover on this boy band and the secrets others kept in the dark for years. But it changed their lives and the lives of fans in monumental ways that can’t be discounted or ignored. Instead, it must be explored in order to not make the same mistakes of the past and also to celebrate the parts of our communities in Latin America that live on.