FB Lounge: a musical oasis in the heart of New York's Spanish Harlem.

Author:Romero, Gabe


By the time the FB (Fonda Boricua) Lounge opened, there was great anticipation and a frenzy of pledged support for an excitingly new but otherwise traditional idea that, without a doubt, has become one the most successful businesses in Spanish Harlem, albeit far from what the proprietors, the Ayala brothers, had envisioned. Fine cuisine, courteous service and, above all, exhilarating live music make this place the favorite of local Spanish Harlem residents and for all those residing elsewhere.

Hands clapping, feet stomping and bodies swinging in unison with the beat are the overwhelming effects of the impacting strains emanating from the stage during a highly spirited descarga (jam session) conducted at the FB Lounge, a fairly new venue located in the very heart of New York City's Spanish Harlem or as it is known to Latinos, El Barrio. Brothers Roberto and Jorge Ayala, functioning as proprietors, have cleverly managed to reinvigorate an almost extinct practice, thus providing a new birth to an old tradition in a spacious modern venue equipped with a state-of-the-art audiovisual system that enhances the listening experience.

Almost overnight, the FB Lounge has managed to become an oasis for Latinos of all generations and nationalities, as well as for all those Latin music fans of other cultural extractions who have found an ideal venue that affords them the opportunity to experience firsthand the fervor behind our music and the intense passion offered by celebrated musical icons on any of the scheduled nights (The FB Lounge is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays).

It all started across 106th Street, nearly twelve years ago, when Jorge Ayala purchased a modest neighborhood luncheonette and transformed it into a new eatery called Fonda Boricua by keeping some of the original menu's staples and adding several new dishes of his own creation. His sibling Roberto joined the thriving venture in 2001, and within a year of his arrival, the business grew larger with the addition of a catering service, as well as the expansion of the premises to twice its former size and the incorporation of a steady live music element, Thursday's jam sessions.

Jam sessions are an old tradition in both jazz and Latin music and provide essential functions to the music community, but most importantly, they allow emerging players to measure their instrumental proficiency and improvisational dexterity, as compared to those of revered veterans, in a...

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