Menudomania takes over the Big Apple

Johnny Lozada and Xavier Serbiá, former members of the boy's band Menudo, recall how hundreds of fans swarmed around them outside El Diario/La Prensa

New York — John F. Kennedy Airport and thousands of fans waiting for their arrival are the images that Johnny Lozada and Xavier Serbiá, former members of the band Menudo, recall when they see a photo of themselves reading El Diario/La Prensa.

On the one hand, they both remember with nostalgia that magic moment when they conquered the Big Apple. On the other, they also recognize the importance at the time of appearing at a newspaper that was as relevant to the Hispanic community as ours—a must-stop for artists wishing to enter the local market.

“I’m not sure if it was the same day we came to New York for the first time for a concert at Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum, or if it we visited El Diario the next day. But I do remember that the photo was very dramatic, since it was the first time I felt truly cold, freezing cold. As you can see, we’re all wearing the same coats that they bought us for this visit, because we didn’t have winter clothes,” Johnny Lozada said.

However, despite the cold weather they felt, the human warmth they got from their fans in those days inspired in the singers some of the strongest emotions they’ve experienced in their lives.

“Thousands of girls went to the airport. It was packed with people. We couldn’t even go through customs, they had to take us directly from the plane to a van and we just waved from the limo, because we couldn’t go into the airport. They filled the streets, so the police had to close them. We had never had the opportunity to play in a U.S. location, so we were all very excited,” Lozada said.

Xavier Serbiá can’t forget that back then, they were being compared to British band The Beatles, because of the large amount of people who had gathered in the street.

“I remember they compared us a lot to The Beatles. I think the mayor was Koch and we had our picture taken with him. The fact that we were able to be that successful surprised us and many others, because so few have been able to bring a lot of people to an airport; you can count them with your fingers, and we were among them,” Serbiá said.

Today, in a very different role as a financial analyst for CNN, the former singer said that being photographed by El Diario/La Prensa helped increase Menudo’s popularity in New York.

“It was a very important time for Menudo, because we were entering the U.S. market. Since there was a very large Hispanic community, that’s where El Diario/La Prensa came in; it was and is the go-to newspaper for the community,” Serbiá said. “That picture shows more than five young men laughing; they’re posing for the key Hispanic newspaper.”

As an interesting fact, the now anchor also mentioned that this photo probably depicted the first time he posed with short hair, after wearing his hair long for years.