The Latin Grammys were airing for the first time in Spanish, and this could mean only one thing: A party atmosphere made complete with Latin America's biggest celebrities.
But outside the Shrine Auditorium on Thursday, a couple of hours before the sixth annual awards show honoring Spanish music of all genres was to begin, things were looking a little bleak.
For one thing, the red carpet was green. Heineken green. And while it may be Latin Grammys tradition, it still caught many by surprise.
Brazilian Ivan Lins, who picked up his first Latin Grammy for best album of the year later that night, was puzzled by it. "I was waiting for the red one to come after the green one.... But, no, this is it, huh? It's green. I guess beer is green." The brothers who make up alternative rock group Akwid were a little more colorful in their reaction to the rug under their feet. Sergio Gomez pretended he was barfing. His brother, Francisco, came up with, well, an alternative: "It's green because of the avocadoes."
But where were the celebrities? As the show's start time grew closer, the press grew even more frustrated that none of the Big Names were walking by, namely: Alejandro Sanz, Bebe, Andy Garcia, John Leguizamo, Salma Hayek and Juanes (who briefly appeared nearby before he was spirited away by Univision, and never returned).
Thank you, sexy Mexican crooner Alejandro Fernandez, for talking to every media outlet and kissing each woman on the cheek.
Akwid also served to lighten the mood, as did Samy, the Miami-based famous hairdresser to many Latin stars, whose products were part of the gift bags for the first time. The international press corps in attendance went berserk when they spotted him and the charming well-groomed Hair God obliged, except, of course, when a radio reporter asked him to reveal which Latin starlet is in most urgent need of a bikini wax.
"Ay! You guys are bad," the Cuban native said, laughing. "I don't give away my client's secrets. When you come to Samy, it's a religious experience."
Locos Por Juana band members moonwalked for photographers; hip-hop Mexican group Volumen X sampled a verse from their second single, "Aqui Estoy"; and Los Horoscopos de Durango offered a little preview of their next album.
The women favored gowns in a spectrum of tropical colors designed by foreigners whose names always drew puzzled looks from the press. High heels with ties that wrap around the leg were a popular footwear choice. And men's wardrobe selections were all over the map, ranging from suits to jeans and vintage shoes.
Akwid's Sergio was sporting what could have been construed as an Angel baseball uniform. Francisco was in Dodger gear. Their designer? "Swap meet!"
Music mogul Emilio Estefan started to list the designers that contributed to his outfit and had to stop himself: "Prada ... and I don't know who else. I think what I have here is like rice and beans."
Estefan was whisked away, just seconds before the show began, and the disappointed press flocked into the auditorium to take their positions backstage. Maybe now Juanes or Bebe or Obie Bermudez will talk to us!
Not so fast. The organizers saw fit to bring every single show presenter to the backstage for not-so-scintillating interviews about future projects, making the press miss almost the entire show. (It was almost worth it, though, when Myrka Dellanos, looking magnificently voluptuous in a purple gown, came by to promote her upcoming Univision special but had to dodge questions about her failed romance with Luis Miguel.)
The backstage interviews with the non-winners took up so much time that some of the winners never made it, such as Spanish alternative singer-songwriter Bebe, who led the nominations with five and took home the Grammy for best new artist.
One winner who did make it was the 97-year-old Generoso Jimenez, the most celebrated Cuban trombonist in history, who received a lifetime achievement award. Asked what his secret is for staying young, Jimenez responded that he couldn't say because "I'd have to mention some dirty things you can't say on television."
Too bad. This party surely needed it.