When I first interviewed Luisito Vargas a few months back, I was really taken aback with the sincerity that came across and the genuine admiration he had for his Father bachatero Luis Vargas.
After this recent interview with them in Eros Lounge in the Bronx it became clear why.
I want to approach this story a bit outside of the music, you all know who Luis Vargas is, pioneer along with Antony Santos and Raulin in the Bachata world. A person who captures an era of music, and beloved by Dominicans due to his heart-felt music and clever double entendre in songs, an Idol of the Dominican culture.
What I got to see, was something far more revealing with my interaction with Luis and his son, I got to know more about the man Luis Vargas, and want to share this with the readers of this website because I think this is important for us to know the people we idolize.
This interview changed my perspective on what I thought I knew about Luis Vargas.
It’s no big secret that Luis has been known in the past as a bit of a womanizer, and when you listen to the music when you picture what the artist would be like, you picture a man who is always drinking, partying with women. The Luis I met was nothing like this, the Luis I met is a family man, whose main focus is instilling in his kids how to walk a straight path, the right path, and that was made clear to me as the night went on in Eros Lounge in the Bronx N.Y., where I got the chance to interview and hang out with Lusito Vargas and his Father.
“Come here, I want to introduce you” – Said Lusito Vargas after a cordial greeting at the front of the lounge. “These are my friends, the band”.
As I make my way shaking hands, I’m greeted with big smiles and comments referring to how they had all seen the previous interview with Luisito that we did (see interview here). They made fun of the joke scene where smoke was coming out of my soup, I threw that in there to lighten the interview a bit for those who have not seen it… From that I could tell that these people were in fact friends, not just co-workers, and they took interest in what each other does in the music business.
The charisma of Luisito is transparent, as we are about to enter the club through the back three beautiful ladies are standing waiting for a taxi to leave the club. By now 1 am on a Sunday and Luis Vargas had still not shown up… He opens the door to go in, and steps back out as he over-hears them saying they are about to leave, without hesitation approaches all three girls, no fear at all in this man at this point…
“you’re really going to leave?” he asks, “Don’t leave…” as he gives them a charming look.
not once does he mention who he is, that he is performing, that his Dad is Luis, he approached them like that did not matter. He wanted them to stay, and that was simply what he wanted to convey, not the reason why, just that he wanted them there.
It’s a healthy dose of confidence, having a famous Dad or having fans of his own has not separated him from having a grip on reality. While we wait for Luis Vargas to arrive, he stands with me by the DJ booth, as a few women approach him to take pictures, and touch his hand, he just smiles and continues to listen to the music that is being played…
“You got to live music, if you don’t live it, then it doesn’t matter” – Lusitio Vargas
He tells me out of nowhere, and this is in tune with how he expresses himself, just like his Dad. Both speak openly about feelings and express themselves poetically, with a refined vocabulary that explain why they do what they do, these guys are authors, poets at heart.
Amidst enjoying the atmosphere, he pulls me over and says “my Dad is here, lets go so you can chat with him a bit”.
We head outside, and between two huge bodyguards and a group of fans across the street there he was, laughing and joking.
“Can I start taking pictures now?” I ask Luisito… He replies “Dale’” (go ahead).
Standing about 15 feet from Luis Vargas I point the camera, and immediately Luis looks at me and goes “Hola”, and the crowd sort of silences for a second. The tone suggested that I had not introduced myself, and that to start taking pictures randomly would be disrespectful (At least that’s what I got from it).
“Come here, come over here so we can talk” Luis says as I make my way over and shake his hands, “So you are the guy who interviewed my son? I saw that interview… He was a bit nervous”. He continues “Have you met these guys (Pointing at his bodyguards), they don’t speak Spanish… So from me, they just understand signals” – He breaks into doing baseball style signs as a joke no doubt to make me feel more at ease and cracks a smile.
“When they see me do this… They know.. Then they come, BOOM haha”
Truth is, I was a bit nervous right there, I was a lot nervous I mean, this is Luis Vargas! Right right now, I bet my step-dad Manolo is listening to him, hell I listen to him almost every day, and he just told me he watched my interview? Even made reference to a scene of it? How do I express my feelings of “DUDE YOU ARE THE F’IN MAN?!”… Simple, I don’t… I’m there working, and this is business, so I get the camera ready and start shooting.
In the interview we talk about the collaboration that he recently did along with Raulin and Antony Santos for Romeo Santos Formula Vol. 1 CD among other things (see video below), but then he got to the part that moved me, he started talking about his family.
When I asked him dress style comes from (A fusion between rock, reggae, pimp, a classical upscale dress all convoluted with a Dominican Swing) he tells me it all revolves around family.
“I got a 16 year old son, that is always critiquing what I wear, and my wife was a model so she also has a lot to say about what I wear” he continues
“I’m not like one of these artists who say ‘my stylist did this’ and hide the fact that its their wife or that they are married. My wife always takes care of me, gives me a lot of tips and is extremely supportive of me not just as an artist. She understands this business, she is very good to me and makes sure that my face is always right, my nails are well groomed and all of that” – Luis Vargas
He also lets me know that at the end of it all, he does have the last say on what he wears, and the fans do as well… “If she gives me clothing to wear and I don’t feel comfortable with it I take it off, I say NO! (he laughs), also when fans compliment you then you know that’s a good style to wear for the future”.
I also asked him how he felt having a son that wanted to follow in his footsteps as a musician due to the harshness of the career.
“I always tell him that it’s much harder for him that it was for me. When I first started we were at the forefront of the evolution of bachata, it was easier, now it’s a lot of competition.”
“I wish I could inject him (Luisito Vargas) with what I am, so he can use that and build from there and become bigger than what I am, but it’s not like that”
“he has to learn as he goes and it’s much harder for him living in today. Right now he is with me in the band, travels the world, and learns this side of the business, what things to do and not to do so that he can use that in his own career.”
And it is clear that Luis Vargas has passed on a lot of knowledge about vices on the road, Luis Vargas while on stage took a sip of alcohol offered to him by a fan, I did not see him drink before or after that… While at the show I offered Luisito Vargas a drink, he explained to me, that he does not drink while working, a motto that was clear to me came from the teachings of his Father.
After the show, the night ended abruptly as close to 5 am and still a packed house Luis’ microphone got cut out as the club had to close. The crowd cheered “Otra! Otra” (Another one, another one), and Luis just signaled to them that the mic had been cut out, this went on for 5 minutes as the DJ pleaded as well over his microphone to turn the sound back on..
“If it were in my power I’d play all night” you could hear Luis saying.
He was quickly then escorted out by his Bodyguards, at what point even I was not able to get a hold of him to take some final pictures.
On my way home, Luisito texted me thanking me for coming by, and to make sure that I had gotten home alright, it is this genuine personality that no doubt comes from the teachings of a great man that will propel this kid into future success.
When you talk about Luisito and Luis Vargas in the music business it’s not just a family doing music for business, it’s a family, music just happens to be their business.