La Luz Center's "Noche Latina" Tops Out with $452,000


MC Marcelo Defreitas and tango partner Valerie Walter Wow the crowd at Noche Latina. View more photos!

“Noche Latina” held at Glen Ellen’s K2 horse ranch, was a true celebration of La Luz Center’s 30th anniversary and of Sonoma Valley’s Latino heritage. 

The event was sold out to 400 guests who came decked out in red and black “tango” attire and costumed as Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera,  Che Guevarra, Zorro, Carmen Miranda and Evita. 

Volunteers in colorful La Luz tee shirts seemed to be everywhere… there were over 40 people helping park cars, directing traffic, and keeping the party running smoothly.

 “Noche” was a resounding success and raised a record-breaking $452,000 for La Luz Center.    

“The generosity of our donors empowers us and endorses our vision and mission of La Luz Center,” said La Luz Executive Director Juan Hernandez III, “We could not be more humbled and encouraged by what happened tonight. We know our work is embraced by Sonoma Valley.”

 Carlos Herrera band played Latin music for the cocktail hour which took place under majestic oak trees and giant flags of Latino countries.  Guests enjoyed wines by Highway 12 winery, blood orange martinis with Skyy vodka , Argentinian beef empanadas and paella stations.

Mariachi Bello and Los Charros showing their roping talents entertained when the guests promenaded into the elegant Buenos Aires tango lounge lit with chandeliers and candelabra and long tables set with red cloths and black lace. 

Bare-chested matador MC Marcelo Defreitas, the event’s creator and producer, and local attorney Valerie Pistole, in glittering satin, took the huge curtained stage and began the night’s entertainment with a passionate, crowd-pleasing tango.

The consummate entertainer, Defreitas teased guests, played bullfight music and had a bull make a surprise attack on board member Kimberly Blattner, who “didn’t get the memo” about not wearing red.

Dinner by Elaine Bell was served family style and included Latin-inspired beef, fish and vegetable dishes, with tres leches cake for birthday dessert.

A video showcasing La Luz’s expanding work was shown before the Fund a Need, which was a huge vote of confidence from the crowd, topping all former auctions when three donors offered to match hundred- dollar donations.  Paddles flew into the air, and the crowd roared. 

Executive Director Juan Hernandez took the stage for a surprise tribute to Defreitas, thanking him for “giving five years of his life and talents to La Luz.”

Noche Latina is the fifth find raising party Defreitas has created and produced. Taking the community by storm he first took La Luz supporters to his native Brazil’s Copacabana nightclub, a party held at the Sonoma Barracks.  In search of more space, he created a Moroccan Casbah at Hanna Boys Center; then to Jack London Park’s African savannah; the South Pacific gardens of Cline Winery and has finally come full circle back to our valley’s roots with Noche Latina. 

Entertainment for the party included Mexican Ballet Folklorico, Sangre Latina and Aquarela do Brasil dance groups --to the crowd’s delight the sexy Brazilian dancers from the Copacabana made a comeback.  As has become tradition, to cap off a perfect party, guests took the stage for spirited “hang loose” disco dancing. 

La Luz Center has been serving Sonoma Valley for thirty years.  In the past year it has expanded its many services, and with a new collaborative with el Verano School strives to be a catalyst for change through health, education and financial security.








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