Bomba Con Buya Captivates the World

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Photo: Elías Carmona

Photo: Elías Carmona

Thanks to the internet, “Bomba con Buya” has become a household name and alongside it, the Puerto Rican bomba. ‘Buya’ may be one of Chicago’s oldest performance groups dedicated to this genre of music, but their membership and outreach tactics is far from antiquated. What started as a celebration of music and dance on the city’s Blue Line Train has now become a viral video phenomena, covered by news outlets around the country. La Respuesta is happy to have spoken with one of the participants in the video and a leader in Chicago’s bomba movement, Ivelisse Díaz. Here is what she had to say about the music, the video, and the future of ‘Buya.’

XBP: How did you get into Bomba music? Where was your start and what keeps you motivated?

ID: I started Bomba at around the age of six. I was exposed to it by my family who helped form the first Bomba group here in Chicago. Bomba for me has become a way of life, words when I have no voice, and a cure when I have no answers.

XBP: Why is it important for Boricua youth from Chicago to learn about Bomba?

ID: It is important for the youth to learn and be educated about their culture because they are the generation that will one day lead. It is important for every Puerto Rican to know their own culture – it is the only way it will survive.

XBP: Where did the idea to play Bomba (and record it) on the train come from? What are your thoughts on all the publicity its gotten? Are you surprised?

ID: My brother, Teo López, always comes up with awesome ideas and this was one of his. We made a video once before on the Blue Line but never did it ever get attention like this recent one. I felt good, I felt happy, I felt honored that I was able to be a part of something so awesome and beautiful. To see Bomba in Chicago make it on the news, blogs, Windy City Live, the HuffingtonPost and more was breathtaking. To be able to make our people proud, our culture proud and heard made my soul a happy one.

XBP: What’s in store for the next phase of Bomba con Buya and yourself, personally, now you are famous?

ID: Buya continues to do the work we’ve always done. We are about to celebrate our 5th year anniversary on November 26th at Mr. Browns Lounge! We are also raising funds to record a CD for our anniversary and we need all the support and help! We have a Kickstarter. You can donate as little as $1 – anything will help!
As for me, I am happily directing Las BomPleneras, working with Buya, being a mommy and working towards my goal! My dream! Making it big! As one of the best soneras in my time! ¡Si se puede! Seguro que sí.

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Xavi Burgos Peña

Xavi Burgos Peña is co-founder of La Respuesta magazine. He is a Boricua/ Dominicano of the Diaspora who has lived his life between New York City and Chicago. His professional experience is mostly in the area of community-building, including youth development, social marketing, and organizing against gentrification. His journalism credits include being editor and chief designer for Que Ondee Sola magazine, columnist for La Voz del Paseo Boricua newspaper, contributor to Gozamos magazine, and guest writer for Claridad newspaper in Puerto Rico. Contact: