UM hosts Latin Billboard Awards, students brave rainy weather for a glimpse of celebrities

Flocks of University of Miami students hurried to the Watsco Center Thursday hoping to catch a glimpse of the largest names in Latin music, full of excitement and anticipation despite continuous surges of strong winds and heavy rain.

The long-awaited Billboard Latin Music Awards were hosted at UM’s Watsco Center on Thursday, Sept. 23, with dazzling appearances from musicians including Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez.

The annual event recognizing the best artists in Latin music was televised and streamed live by Telemundo. Artists including Karol G and Camila Cabello were spotted emerging from limousines and SUVs, as the crowd of students cheered and snapped photos.

The award’s one-year limit for eligible work was expanded to 18 months after the cancellation of its 2020 edition during the pandemic, while the Tour of the Year Award was excluded entirely. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, tickets were limited and sold out quicker than expected, giving students no choice but to stand under the rain to see their favorite stars.

Kiara Gaviria, a freshman accounting major, was among the many students camping out in front of the Watsco Center after a frenzied hour of searching around the building for the perfect view of the red carpet entrance. She explained how her excitement to see someone as popular as Bad Bunny was motivation enough to stick it out through the gloomy weather.

“It was definitely worth the hour of walking to find the right spot to lookout,” Gaviria said.

Inside the Watsco Center, viewers enjoyed a night of surprises and heart-felt tributes. Cabello opened the show with a high-energy performance of her latest single “Don’t Go Yet,” while Cortez closed out the show with an impressive rendition of his song “En Mi Cuarto.”

The late Dominican musician Johnny Ventura was recognized for his legacy in Merengue music while the work of the late Mexican star Juan Gabriel was celebrated through a tribute of his hits.

This year, Puerto Rican-native singer and rapper Daddy Yankee was honored with Billboard’s Hall of Fame Award, marking an important night for Reggaeton music.

The night’s most anticipated category, Artist of the Year, was awarded to Latin trap and hip-hop musician Bad Bunny, known for hits including “Yo Perreo Sola,” “Yonaguni” and “I Like It,” featuring Cardi B and J Balvin. Bad Bunny also received the award for Best Latin Album for his project titled “YHLQMDLG.”

Other popular artists who returned home winners of the night’s coveted awards include Karol G, The Black Eyed Peas, Prince Royce and Maluma.

Although the excitement and laughter surrounding the Watsco Center’s gates signaled that standing in the rain was worth it, students can hope that next year they will be able to access seats inside if UM decides to serve as host again.