The Miami Herald
February 25, 2006
BY TE-ERIKA PATTERSON
On a typical Sunday evening, Natasha Figueros, 22, gets dressed for the club early.
She pulls her long brown hair back into a bun and attaches her silver earrings and matching bracelets. She smiles at her reflection in the mirror as she applies a last dab of clear lip gloss.
She grabs her purse and hops into her SUV as she makes a quick phone call to see if her girls are ready to accompany her to the club. She tosses her phone onto the passenger seat as she pulls into their driveway.
Seconds later, they emerge, smiling and waving. ''TASHA!'' they scream in unison as they jump up and down.
''Hey, munchkins,'' she says and waves goodbye to her sister Jessica, who is standing in the doorway holding her 4-month-old son. Natasha guides the girls into her truck and buckles their seat belts. Her ''girls'' are her 5-year-old and 2-year old nieces, Dezaray and Alysha, and she's taking them out for their highly anticipated night on the town.
Their destination is L'Boulevard Cafe, at 3632 NW 25th Ave. in Miami.
The Latin cafe was opened five years ago by owner Edward Pena, who has been promoting parties for the past 20 years in cities from New York to Nicaragua.
His signature event is Family Sunday, a weekly gathering dedicated to bringing families closer together through good music, great food and a relaxed atmosphere.
''I like L'Boulevard because it gives the kids a chance to have fun,'' Figueros says as she ushers her nieces inside. ``They can dance, they can eat and it gives me a chance to hang with all of the people I knew from school and in the neighborhood.
``The girls get to get up and get dressed up and go out dancing just like their auntie. At the end of the night, we're all exhausted but happy and I drop them off knowing that we'll be back again next Sunday.''
Every Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. dozens of parents from all ages and all ethnic backgrounds bring their children to L'Boulevard Cafe for the dance contests, prizes and personal attention from Pena, who hosts the kiddie dance contests himself.
Regular party goers are allowed inside during Family Sunday, and admission is free if you bring children. If you don't have children there is a $10 cover charge. With the exception of beer, no alcohol is served until after the children leave.
Pena, a native of the Dominican Republic, has four children of his own, who he says enjoy the club as much as he does.
Rosery Castillo, 21, brings her 22-month old daughter regularly.
''I've been coming with my daughter since she was 4 months old,'' Castillo says. ``I guess we follow the traditions because in Santo Domingo, [Dominican Republic] this is what we do on Sundays.''
Castillo and her daughter, Sabrina, hold hands as they move their bodies fluidly on the edge of the dance floor to the pulsating music of Bachata Swing, the live band.
''This club is like family,'' says Juan Mora, a 25-year-old Miami resident, sitting on a bar stool and watching the kiddie dance contest. ``I'm here with my cousins and my brother. It's good to see the kids dancing. They're having fun. We're all feeling good.''
On the other side of the club, Figueros giggles as her two nieces stand near the crowded stage watching the dance competition.
''Alysha won a bike one time after winning a competition,'' Figueros says proudly, pointing to her 2-year-old niece. ``Next week we're hoping to win the 13-inch TV.''