JuanGaOke Gives Me Life

It’s been two months since the great Divo de Juarez, Juan Gabriel has passed away, his music and spirit still lives on. When he died in August, I felt that a close and dear family member died. One of the many things that I adore about being bilingual and so rooted in my Latin American culture is the diverse music collection and the introduction to Juan Gabriel as a young kid early in my childhood. One of my first memories is dancing in the living room to Juan Gabriel’s “El Noa Noa”. I didn’t know it then, but I was listening to one of Mexico’s greatest artist.

Juan Gabriel sang in ways that other artist, American or otherwise, didn’t. His lyrics made everyone, including grown men succumb to tears, longing a lost love. Every Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthday, and every family celebration, his music was always present for us to dance to, cry to, and if you were of age, to drink to.

Being a gay man in the 70’s in Mexico must not have been easy – for Mexico, along with every other Latin American country, is a hyper masculine, macho place to grow up. But yet, Juan Gabriel was unapologetic for his dancing, for his grand and colorful outfits. He wore eyeliner, with capes and sparkles. I’ve read that people have said that he was Mexico’s Liberace. No disrespect to Liberace but no – he was not; he was Mexico’s Juan Gabriel. His flamboyant outfits and persona onstage made everyone dance and rejoice to the beauties that life has to offer. Songs like “El Noa Noa” where the main subject is a club that he invites everyone to dance and invites everyone to be happy in this club, cemented the grand artist that he was. Juan Gabriel was a pioneer, for people of color living in the United States and much more he was a beacon of roots, a taste of home, and a reminder to be proud of who and what you are. He knew his worth as an artist.

On Thursday night, I was transported back into my childhood memories. A local bar in Boyle Heights called Eastside Luv wine bar y QueSo has a great event called JuanGaOke. What is it? Karaoke to dedicated to nothing but Juan Gabriel music. The man had so many that you will not hear the same song twice. A small, quaint, wine and beer bar, Eastside Luv wine bar y QueSo provides a lively environment to either sit back and relax or get up and dance. The walls of the bar are decorated with Dia de Los Muertos delicate portraits. Going to the back of the bar, you will find the smoking area with an open sky roof to enjoy the stars. If you’re 21 and over, stop by every 4th Thursday of the month to enjoy some good drinks, good people and of course to enjoy their JuanGaoke event. Singing with liquid courage is optional.


Get lost to Juan Gabriel music and enjoying the legacy he left behind.  He was a great star and with his passing, a piece of many people’s childhood has gone with him. There will never be another like him, El Divo de Juarez, La JuanGa, Alberto Aguilera Valadez, the one and only, Juan Gabriel.