If there’s one thing I remember about watching Univision as a kid, it was staring at bikini-clad women prance around on the beach during Caliente, the network’s tropical take on Soul Train. I have vivid memories of watching this show with my mami, even though I encountered far too many 18+ warnings while working on this list. Caliente captured the excellence of TV networks of yesteryear; to make a hit show, all you needed was two hours, a DJ, a gaggle of thin, light-skinned dancers, and a beach. Slap a ~sensual~ name like Caliente on that shit and you’ve got a daytime TV show that people watched for eleven straight years.
Despite the dubious premise of Caliente, the show’s corny brilliance still holds a soft spot in my heart. Rafael Mercadente, the show’s host from 2003-2006, was the Miami surfer boyfriend I never had, hoop earring and all. And before I spent my days wasting away on Twitter, Caliente kept me tuned into Top 40 hits, since it featured performances from icons like Ivy Queen, Celia Cruz, and El General. Plus, watching the dancers try to outdo each other and fight for camera time was a lolfest.
Though Caliente ended in 2006, its spirit lived on through Descontrol, Telemundo’s version of the program. Descontrol brought us some clutch moments over the years, including the time J Balvin performed his first single in an awkward polo.
We’re revisiting the glory of this show to bring you some of the greatest performances it had to offer, including sets from Fulanito, Proyecto Uno, Celia Cruz, and more. Click away, friends.
P.S.: Don’t go searching “caliente” all over YouTube and Google, unless you want to look at the words “hot and spicy Latina” for the next hour.