MEDIATING BETWEEN TWO WORLDS
of Mexican Youth Dances
By CATHY RAGLAND
Fausto Salazar, a.k.a. Potentia Latina, works with a crew of five
and owns an elaborate, fully digitized sound system
featuring 16 channels. Photo by Cathy Ragland.
The New York metropolitan areas young Mexican immigrants are a community living in transition, continually shifting between their memory of Mexico and the reality of life here in the United States. Their weekend social events, called bailes, feature light shows, sound manipulations, and loud cumbia dance music played by deejays known as sonideros. The theme of being transported to another place runs through the evening, and in fact, in reading the poetic dedications and salutations composed by the young dancers, the sonidero takes them from Queens to Oaxaca, from Puebla to Paterson. Through the sonidero they maintain connections to Mexico and to relatives and friends in other parts of the United States. The sonidero is one of them, and with him as their mediator, they can revisit their place of origin and share the displacement and the ambiguity of the bicultural immigrant experience.
The Mexican deejays, or sonideros, employ images of strength, power, and force in their business cards and cassette tape covers. They freely mix the Stars and Stripes with the yellow, green, white, and red of the Mexican national flag.
Puebla, New York
yo estoy con el mejor
el más chingon
chabelo toño sagrado
Fausto nacho polo
Puebla de los ángeles
|DEDICATIONS AND SALUTATIONS
It is mostly young men who attend the dances. Between sets they crowd aorund the sonidero and wait for a chance to hand him their greetings to friends and relatives back home. Photo by Cathy Ragland
Puebla, New York
I am here with the best
the most badass
the guy with the sacred tone
Fausta nacho polo
Town of the Angels
|Cathy Ragland is an ethnomusicologist, folklorist, and writer whose articles and columns have appeared in publications such as the Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Austin-American Statesman, and the San Antonio Express-News. She is a South Texas native who has worked extensively with Mexicano and Latino communities in the United States. At present, she is project coordinator at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York.|
The playbill for a show at the bingo hall in Paterson, New Jersey, headlines the featured sonideros and their taglines.
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Smith, Robert. 1999. Immigration: Dimensions of Mexican migration to New York. La Vitrina Cultural Affairs. New York: Mexican Cultural Institute.
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The full article, that we have excerpted here, appeared in Voices Vol. 26, Fall-Winter, 2000. Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.
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