Every month, a community of poets, artists, listeners, elders, youths, and organizers gathers under the full moon at Galería de la Raza on 24th street. The cultural hub’s Lunada is usually an open-mic event, but Saturday evening was a special occasion: The Lunada at the Galería turned 15 years old, and the evening was accordingly festive.

Local stars like Marc David Pinate, Ricky Saenz, Marga Gomez, and Avotcja took to the stage to give bendiciones, crack jokes, and, of course, to read poetry. Crowds poured into the Galería to laugh, to be moved, and to move themselves – once the dancing to music from La Mixta Criolla started playing.

“It’s a very deep rooted community practice,” said Executive Director Ani Rivera. “It’s where people gather under the full moon and we, you know, share. We break bread together.”

She attributed the tradition’s longevity to the immediacy and relevance of the material presented.

“Everyone that signs up has a moment to share what’s happening in their community, in their society, so there’s always an issue that’s worth talking about … Tonight, it’s really about celebrating that and celebrating the community,” Rivera said.

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Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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