Local DJ Luigi Bravo will bring Latin music to Aqua Lounge, set to open in July | Photo provided

Local DJ Luigi Bravo left Colombia for Charleston after a 1999 earthquake in the city of Armenia devastated the northwestern region of his native country. Music was a hobby after hours while he spent his days as an engineer, but 2005 was the year he took a leap into the music industry. “The first few events were small because there were really no Latinos to have big events, but things quickly grew,” Bravo said. He got his first break in 2006 after being asked to DJ for the Charleston Cinco de Mayo Festival. Bravo now has partnerships with Luna Sol, Jose Cuervo and Tito’s vodka. He also DJs numerous festivals, restaurants and weddings every year, including this year’s Cinco de Mayo Festival and Charleston Latino Festival in October.

Musicians have struggled as local stages remain closed, but despite that, Bravo said the pandemic has also been a gift.

“I am blessed because I found a way to connect using technology,” he told the City Paper. “I was forced to learn how to use it, and I’m now more busy than ever before with livestreams and social media platforms like Zoom and Facebook to help me make a closer connection with the community.”

After 20 years of doing shows every weekend, the past year has given Bravo a chance to slow down and  build a deeper bond with his audience. “Technology has changed my life forever by allowing me to meet new people and even reconnect with people back in Colombia,” he said.

Bravo has been the proud owner of Latin Groove Entertainment for 15 years. The company’s online radio station, called Latin Groove, plays Latino music 24/7 at latingroovecharleston.com. The stream showcases new and old music along with his original material. The station has also opened doors for culturally diverse collaborations. “We’ve had a performer who was Swedish come to a festival and sing in English and Spanish. Everyone loved it, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the platform.”

He has big plans as things open back up. “Restaurants are desperate for live music shows, and there are lines of people wanting to be active again.” He sees the vaccine as a tool to help us come back together. The next big project for Bravo is his upcoming residency at Aqua Lounge & Night Club set to open in July in North Charleston. His goal is to meld the American club atmosphere with a Latino twist. He’s confident the new spot will be packed once everyone is ready to be active again.

Bravo said he has a deep passion and love for the Charleston community. “If I can help just one person — represent them and make them feel heard — it is all worth it.” He sees his work as a way to represent the public’s voice and connect companies to serve the community. Hosting salsa nights around Charleston is one way he’s harnessed music to bring new and avid salsa dancers together. His favorite part of performing his music is the people. Bravo said he’s seen how his salsa nights have helped people find friends and build relationships. “It’s incredible seeing people of all kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities receive the music well and bond over it.”

Listen to Bravo’s online streaming station at latingroovecharleston.com.