Where We Were Safe

For the last 80 years, Black and Latino barrios in New York City have suffered the drastic effects of racist urban policies now mirrored in hypergentrification. Consequently, their historical sites, cultural hubs, and family businesses, located in the five boroughs, have experienced a silent erasure. "We Were Safe" is an interactive oral history archive that focuses on collecting memories about the destroyed and historic Salsa music places in New York City, such as ballrooms, clubs, record stores, and outdoor venues. Combining digital mapping and cultural memory, this project aims to reconstruct historical space and recover these sites' heritage through a lens of social, racial, and cultural dynamics that fed the Latin experience in the 1970s.

  • Marcos Michele Echeverria Ortiz
  • Marcos Michele Echeverria Ortiz
  • Sol Freire
  • Marcos Echeverria Ortiz
  • Miguel Melendez
    Key Cast
    "Ex Young Lord"
  • Pete Bonet
    Key Cast
    "Salsa singer - Fania All Star"
  • Papo Vazquez
    Key Cast
    "Trombonist - Fania All Star"
  • Aurora Flores
    Key Cast
  • Mike Amadeo
    Key Cast
    "Salsa Composer/musician"
  • Arnie Segarra
    Key Cast
    "Manager Chez Jose"
  • Amir Husak
    Key Collaborators
    The Reed Trains
  • Neyda Martinez
    Key Collaborators
    Decade of Fire
  • Fabiola Hanna
    Key Collaborators
  • Project Type:
    Interactive Film
  • Minimum Runtime:
    4 minutes 27 seconds
  • Maximum Runtime:
    2 hours 17 minutes
  • Average Runtime:
    45 minutes 7 seconds
  • Variable Runtime Details:
    As an interactive archive/documentary, there are different entry points to navigate the story. Users have the agency to jump from place to place in the map as much or as little they want.
    Please use a computer to have a flawless experience.
  • Completion Date:
    July 14, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    4,560 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Student Project:
  • Mixed Messages, New Media Showcase at The New School
    New York City
    United States
    April 30, 2021
    North America Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Marcos Michele Echeverria Ortiz

Marcos Echeverria Ortiz is an award-winning multimedia journalist, photographer, and documentalist based in New York City. For the last eight years, he has invested efforts to develop transmedia projects and cover stories related to culture, music, social movements, immigration, and human rights.

Originally from Ecuador, through Radio COCOA, Noisey VICE, and more, he has written, filmed, and photographed the underground music and cultural scene of Latin America. Marcos graduated with honors from the Media Studies MA program at The New School. He has recently covered social justice movements and his photos have been published in The New York Times and Business Insider. Through documentary and hybrid forms of media, he chronicles the Latinx experience in New York City through stories interjected by music, inequality, memory, and history.

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