An alternative event at the club was hailed as a 'perfect' night by Venezuelan people – and it could lead to a few more AFC Wimbledon followers from the South American country!
There was plenty of singing, dancing, and fun at the Cherry Red Records Stadium as the Venezuelans brought along a taste of their unique culture to mark 'La Fiesta de San Juan' – a day of celebration for the patron Saint of Venezuela.
But there was a serious edge to the event too as Venezuela is going through the worst economic crisis in its history, the medical section particularly affected by the shortage of medical supplies, the brain drain of specialised doctors and the dire state of its hospitals.
Saturday's event will certainly help with an attendance of 270 people – from several different nationalities – raising a substantial amount for charities Healing Venezuela and Programa de Ayuda Humanitaria para Venezuela (PAHPV).
Erika Urvina, Director of Liqui Liqui Ltd, a shop which sells Deli Latin street food in Colliers Wood, said that those who attended really embraced the spirit of what the event was all about.
"People were amazed about the venue and the atmosphere that was created on the night," she said. Everyone joined in the dancing and we had a real mix of nationalities with people from England, China, Thailand and Eastern Europe, not just from Venezuela. It was the perfect night and it summed up why living here in London is so special as people from all around the world joined in.
"Venezuelans are very happy people and we try to have smiles on our faces, even when times are tough. Although it was a very enjoyable event, it was also staged for Venezuelans abroad to show everyone back home that they are not alone. We must thank Ivor Heller and all the staff for being such great hosts on the night."
Militza Ortiz, whose husband Stephen is a season ticket holder here, said 'we are all going to be super fans of AFC Wimbledon' after the event, which helped raise awareness about her charity called Healing Venezuala.
"Our charity is quite new as we only started it in February and this is the first big event that we have put on. We have raised a lot of funds from this fantastic evening, the event was all Erika's idea. It was a big party to celebrate San Juan. We were giving thanks for what we have, but also asking him for help to alleviate the medical crisis in Venezuala."
Healing Venezuela, is a UK registered charity, working in collaboration with the children's hospital in Caracas, JM de los Rios, by sending everything from basics like baby food, nappies to medical equipment. All the resources sent by Healing Venezuela are donated by UK hospitals, GPs and health centres. Programa de Ayuda Humanitaria para Venezuela (PAHPV), is a US registered charity working at a worldwide level, sending medicines to more than 80 NGOs in Venezuela through individual donations.
With a spectacular evening full of South American style, it was a great way to do this. The night of "La Fiesta de San Juan" is filled with dancing to the beat of 'tambores', a fusion of Latin American and African drumming, and a variety of distinctive flavours and foods, including corn bread, shredded beef, black beans, empanadas and cheese sticks. The night also included a special appearance from the best of London's Latin American Scene, DJ Carlitos Nunez.
Eglee Coles, who also helped organise the event, added: "Everyone was dancing to the drums and a lot of people told us how amazing the night was. There was so much energy and fun. The night went so quickly considering it went on until 1.00 am and everyone was wanting to stay for one more song!"