By Claudio E. Cabrera
Special to DNAinfo.com New York
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Bachata, salsa and merengue have long been the trademark music of Northern Manhattan, with its roots in Latino immigrant culture.
But for the latest generation of kids from the neighborhood, Hip-Hop has reined supreme, even if it meant heading downtown to hear it performed live.
"Never did I think I'd see the moment where a prominent Hip-Hop DJ or producer would make his way to my neighborhood," said John De Los Santos, 28, who grew up in the neighborhood, and was among the hundreds of fans who turned out to the club at 4447 Broadway near West 190 St.
"I always thought it was something I needed to go downtown for. I'm glad this moment is here."
The Apt 78 Uptown Summer Series, which is in its second year, is expected to draw crowds throughout the summer, with a lineup that includes legendary Hip-Hop DJs including Kid Capri, DJ Premier and Biz Markie. A different performer will come to the venue every Wednesday through the end of August.
Apt 78 owner Jose Morales said he is currently in talks with D-Nice and Q-Tip of "A Tribe Called Quest" to perform in August.
For lifelong Washington Heights resident Maury Matos, who said he had seen Questlove live in the past, last night was more than just a concert, it was about breaking stereotypes.
"There's a lot of Hip-Hop history up here and people tend to forget it. Many feel because we are Latinos we just listen to a certain type of music," said the 26-year-old Matos. "But there are huge Hip-Hop heads up here and big artists are now recognizing that this is a viable neighborhood to perform and play at."
The event saw more than 200 attendees from as far as Queens who journeyed to the neighborhood with hopes of getting into the standing-room event.
"I have been coming more and more to the Heights as the neighborhood has changed," said 31-year-old Albert Acosta from Queens. "And when I heard someone from my favorite group and one of my favorite producers would be here, I had to be here for history."
Questlove, wearing his hard-to-miss trademark afro, told the raucous crowd that this was a unique evening.
"DJ'ing in N.Y.C. can be a struggle sometimes," said Questlove. "You are one of the first crowds in the city, if not the first, that has allowed me to play classics all the way back to the 70s. Washington Heights, I'm loving it."
Questlove had the diverse crowd dancing on top of tables and couches during his two-hour set, which included music from the likes of James Brown, Michael Jackson, Slick Rick and countless others.
A crowds of fans massed outside to try to enter the jam-packed venue, those on line said they had no problem waiting at all for this event if it even just meant listening from the outside.
"Even if I don't get in, I can feel the energy from out here. I'll just dance outside. That's legal, right?" asked 24-year-old Davina Lucas who came from Brooklyn after finding out about the event on Twitter.
As the crowd filed out after the 2-hour set, Questlove went on to tweet how he not only loved the crowd, but the "incredible seafood" at El Tina Restaurant on 207th Street and 10th Avenue in Inwood.
"Seriously, if yall got the means to get up here, the Whiting is Wow," Questlove wrote.
Apt 78 owner Morales said "I couldn't have imagined a better way to start the summer series."
"Questlove, the music, the energy, the crowd, it was just a historic moment. It was amazing to have this uptown."