Sueños bringing bigger roster of local DJs, Latino-owned businesses to Grant Park festival

A report that highlighted the economic impact of Sueños Music Festival found that more than 900 jobs were created thanks to the two-day event. This year, organizers expect that number to be surpassed.

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Mo Husein (left) and Rocio “Rock” Garza of Pinches Miches prepare micheladas for attendees of the Sueños Music Festival kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes on April 18.

Mo Husein (left) and Rocio “Rock” Garza of Pinches Miches prepare micheladas for attendees of the April 18 Sueños Music Festival kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes.

Ambar Colón/Sun-Times

Sueños Music Festival returns to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend, with a goal of providing more economic opportunities for Latinos. And lots of music, culture and food.

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Last year’s inaugural Sueños Music Festival attracted more than 80,000 people over two days and provided a significant boost to Chicago’s economy in the process, festival organizers said at a kick-off party in April at Instituto Cervantes.

Sueños brought in $120.9 million and 980 full-time jobs to Chicago’s economy, according to a report on the economic impact of the festival by AngelouEconomics and C3 Presents. The festival generated $1.1 million in city amusement taxes, too.

Jaime di Paulo, CEO and president of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said more than 75% of the food and beverage vendors were Latinos. Di Paulo estimated that number will be higher this year as organizers continue to prioritize local businesses owned by Latinos.

Raíces de mi Tierra, a local Colombian dance group, show off their traditional cumbia dresses at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St. on April 18.

Raíces de mi Tierra, a local Colombian dance group, shows off its traditional cumbia dresses at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St. on April 18.

Ambar Colón/Sun-Times

One such business is Pinches Miches — a mobile michelada pop-up bar co-founded by Mo Husein and Nancy Hernández.

Last year, they sponsored Sueños, but Husein said that this year he and his partner Rocio “Rock” Garza will be on site serving drinks.

“We want to make sure that we’re pulling in Chicago Latin food vendors, not just Latin food vendors,” said festival director Tim “Tuba” Smith, who is also festival director for Lollapalooza. “It’s a huge piece of what the festival stands for.”

Co-founder Aaron Ampudia echoed that the festival is about more than bringing Latin artists to the city.

“Last year, there was such amazing energy throughout the festival. It felt like we were meant to be there, celebrating Latin music and culture with Chicago’s thriving Latino community,” he said.

Smith added that the festival has invested more in production for this year’s event, which includes interactive activities, dance performances and art installations put together by local residents.

The effort to invest in as many Latinos as possible extends not just to local musicians but to youths in the community, Smith said.

Last year, $50,000 was donated to the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council as well as the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in Hermosa. Both organizations used the funds to invest in youth programming.

The festival, scheduled for May 27-28 in Grant Park, is billed as one of the largest Latin music festivals in the country. This year’s lineup includes two Chicagoans.

Gordo Deleon, aka DJ Gordo, deejays every Friday on Pitbull’s Globalization on Sirius XM. Now 40, he’s been in the business for 20 years and has opened for Drake, Waka Flocka, DJ Khaled, Gucci Mane, Metro Boomin and more.

“I attended one day last year, and it was pretty amazing,” he said. “So to be part of it this year is really exciting.”

Miriam Paz, who goes by DJ Miriam at all her gigs, celebrated her Sueños debut in 2022. Since then she’s toured all over the U.S. and Latin America for her “Sorry Papi” tour, and even opened for 24-year-old Latin trap artist Young Miko, who will be at Sueños May 28.

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DJ Miriam speaks at a kick-off party for Sueños Music Festival on April 18 at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St.

Ambar Colón/Sun-Times

Since her Sueños debut, the DJ has formed a close relationship with the organizers, who have told her that she’s “like family” now.

“Once you’re in, you’re in, and they said that they were going to continue having me back for as long as Sueños is going to happen,” DJ Miriam said.

This year she’s working with festival organizers to set up the first-ever Sorry Papi Village, a safe space for women with its own stage and bar.

“We’re working on getting separate bathroom stalls, touch-up stations where you can get your hair braided, you can get glitter art done, and then just kick back with your girls,” she said. “Sometimes we just need to take a break.”

Michael García (left) and Jorge Ortega wear traditional carnival costumes from Colombia at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes.

Michael García (left) and Jorge Ortega wear traditional carnival costumes from Colombia at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes.

Ambar Colón/Sun-Times

Edwin Chunchi and Elizabeth Hurtado represent Ecuador at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St. on April 18.

Edwin Chunchi and Elizabeth Hurtado represent Ecuador at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes.

Ambar Colón/Sun-Times

Marcos Cruz (from left), Juan Manuel Morales Santiago and Xiomara Morales Santiago represent Mexico at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes.

Marcos Cruz (from left), Juan Manuel Morales Santiago and Xiomara Morales Santiago represent Mexico at the Sueños kick-off party at Instituto Cervantes.

Ambar Colón/Sun-Times

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