In case you’re Dominican, likelihood is you are conversant in morir soñando, a easy however refreshingly crisp batida (milkshake) made with milk, orange juice, and vanilla extract. So simple as the three-ingredient drink appears, there is a motive it is given such a poetic identify. “Morir soñando” interprets as “to die dreaming,” and after only one sip, one immediately seems like they have been transported right into a dream — even when only for a matter of seconds. That was precisely the sensation Dominican American comedians and real-life besties Sasha Merci and Glorelys Mora, who each grew up in uptown (Merci specfically within the Bronx), wished audiences to really feel after they created their first all-Dominican comedy present again in 2019. On Monday, Nov. 6, the Morir Soñando present took over the historic United Palace, previously Loew’s one hundred and seventy fifth Avenue Theatre, in Washington Heights. It was the primary present within the New York Comedy Pageant to incorporate an all-Dominican lineup, and identical to the beverage, it felt like a dream for the Dominican neighborhood.
The present opened up with a particular musical efficiency by Dominican bachata artist Jae Camilo and included a powerful lineup of Dominican comedians, from up-and-coming stars like Julio Diaz, Mr. Nuevayol, and Dee Nasty to established comics with HBO Max specials, together with Aida Rodriguez and Ian Lara. Mora was the night’s host and Merci additionally had her personal stage time, making it a jam-packed lineup full of eight gifted Dominican comics that bought out the present inside weeks.
Except for the United Palace, sponsors included Led Black’s The Uptown Collective, Dominican Writers, Phrase Up Books, Little Dominican Republic, mitútv, and Jalao NYC, which hosted the occasion’s afterparty.
Positioned in el Alto Manhattan’s Washington Heights, residence to the nation’s most distinguished Dominican neighborhood, the United Palace is without doubt one of the island’s largest and most spectacular theaters. Occupying a full metropolis block, the theater’s lavish design replicates that of a royal palace. It opened its doorways in 1930 and was initially constructed with the intention of showcasing movies, and it is since change into a cultural hub for the performing arts — the place everybody from Bob Dylan and Lenny Kravitz to Aventura, Dangerous Bunny, and Becky G have carried out. It has additionally served as a filming location for “John Wick: Chapter 3” and TV collection like NBC’s “Smash,” Netflix’s “Luke Cage,” HBO’s “Crashing,” and Hulu’s “Solely Murders within the Constructing.” However earlier than Morir Soñando, it had but to accommodate a comedy present, not to mention one with solely Dominican comics. That is one thing Merci and Mora had dreamed of with the ability to pull off for years.
“It means a lot to have Morir Soñando as a part of the New York Metropolis Comedy Pageant, as a result of the competition does not have quite a lot of Latino illustration and it undoubtedly does not have Dominican illustration. It is the primary time it has ever been carried out the place there’s a complete Dominican lineup on the competition,” Mora tells POPSUGAR. “I preserve telling all people this was a dream come true. Clearly, I nonetheless need to document a particular in some unspecified time in the future in my profession. However this proper right here, what occurred on Monday, was my dream come true in comedy. Something that occurs after this can be a cherry on high. I really feel like I actually made my neighborhood proud.”
The present befell on the Palace’s lobby, with audiences seated across the stage and gathering upstairs within the mezzanine space, which included a VIP lounge, a step and repeat, a bar serving drinks and light-weight snacks — together with empanadas from a neighborhood Dominican spot — and a desk with copies of Rodriguez’s new memoir “Reliable Child.” There was even a big Dominican flag hanging from the lobby’s balcony in honor of uptown’s Dominican neighborhood.
“The Uptown Collective was vital in making the introductions and the connection and actually constructing that belief with United Palace. They’ve the connection, and we have been speaking about eager to be there since we began the present,” Mora explains. “Led [Black] is an individual who works actually laborious with the Uptown neighborhood. We instructed him we would have liked assist. We have been like we simply want somebody that is going to make this dream larger, and that is what this challenge is — it is actually larger than Sasha and I. It’s a neighborhood challenge. We wished everybody that’s uptown working to essentially be part of it.”
Whereas every comedian’s type and set was totally different, all of them highlighted their experiences being Dominican People, whether or not it was Lara referring to what it is like for Black Dominicans to lastly have their second or Merci joking about being a Dominican dwelling in Los Angeles, the place we’re hardly acknowledged as Latines, to Rodriguez, who’s half-Dominican and half-Boricua, sharing how the Dominican neighborhood has warmly embraced her since she actually began embracing her Dominican roots after lastly reuniting together with her father within the Dominican Republic. Whether or not they grew up uptown, within the outer boroughs, and even exterior of New York, each comedian and their distinctive story was embraced and celebrated by the posse of Dominicans who got here out to indicate their assist that night. There was no competitors between expertise or shade thrown by any of the company. It was all love and a festivity of los angeles cultura.
“I bear in mind once I had first began doing social media and once I did the film ‘De Lo Mio’ and seeing the influence that had on the Dominican neighborhood and the way they got here out for the movie. I used to be like, man, Dee [Nasty] and I ought to do a standup present,” Merci tells POPSUGAR. “Then I met Glorelys and we got here up with Sancocho (a smaller-scale comedy present the duo produced for the Dominican neighborhood), and after that, we wished to do one thing that was very intentional. We wished to do one thing that was going to convey the Dominican neighborhood collectively and showcase our neighborhood’s expertise. Morir Soñando stemmed from the thought of constructing a comedy present for and by Dominican People.”
Merci and Mora insist that they are simply getting began and hope to host a Morir Soñando present on the United Palace yearly — with the dream of at some point with the ability to fill each seat within the venue’s essential theater. It isn’t a far stretch, contemplating how rapidly tickets bought out this time round.
“This was a really particular second, and I addressed that in my set. I began doing comedy in 2011, and at the moment the panorama of standup comedy was very totally different. There weren’t that many Dominican comedians doing comedy on the high stage,” says Lara, who was the present’s nearer. “So to see a lineup strictly primarily based off simply Dominican comedians who’re all in their very own proper killing it and coming collectively on a standup stage was surreal. Doing it at United Palace was simply the cherry on high, as a result of anyone who’s from New York, particularly Uptown, you know the way legendary of a spot it’s.”
The whole lot in regards to the occasion felt like a neighborhood effort — from the Dominicans within the viewers who confirmed their assist and pleasure for everybody who hit the stage to the quite a few methods the present’s producers and sponsors labored to indicate their devotion to everybody concerned. It was clear that this was extra than simply your common comedy present. This was a neighborhood effort to have fun and assist Dominican creatives and entrepreneurs at each stage, as a result of once we present up for our folks, we go large or go residence. Morir Soñando is not only a dream anymore. It is a actuality made attainable by each Dominican who was concerned within the occasion’s manufacturing, y créeme we’re simply getting began.