Chicano Pride in the Land of 1000 Dances
Geronimo Garcia's PACHUCO 2 Concert Dance hits a nerve in East LA's Steven's Steakhouse on a Sunday afternoon
Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Like living a fantasy of going back in time, this past Sunday could have been a flashback for a lot of our parents & grandparents who remember the "Pachucada" of olden days.
Published on LatinoLA: April 20, 2015
"Our" referring to that good looking, 45 and over California Chicano crowd that still love to dress up, dance to good music, enjoy good times with good friends, and live life like age was just another number‘«™and we did it again con ganas this past Sunday!
Steven's Steakhouse in East L.A. (on the map it's one block into City of Commerce, pero tu sabes, it's always gonna be East L.A. to me!) was the place to be this past Sunday as suave Pachucos & beautiful Pachucas, classic lowrider "bombs," lots of good food, plenty of drink, a large dance floor, and two great Classic Chicano Rock & Boogie bands all combined to take us back in time on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Land of 1000 Dances.
More than just another costume party & dance for cool grownups, this was a cultural event that epitomizes the Los Angeles Chicano Soul born from history dating back almost 75 years ago, when being "Chicano" was a dangerous thing to say, racial discrimination against Latinos, Blacks, & Asians was a daily cup of tea for Caucasians in Los Angeles, and the World was at war with a realistic fear of anarchy controlled by Nazi Germany & Imperial Japan on both sides of the World, with us in the middle ‘«™ basically, the end of the free World as we knew it then.
History considered and shamefully minimized, the Chicano & Mexican American
(same difference) population of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah (aka Aztlan) freely & honorably sacrificed its sons & daughters to fight and win, as part of what has now become known as "The Greatest Generation", to earn more medals for battlefield bravery than any other ethnic group during WW II, only to come home to continued discrimination & the denial of their service in any history books.
The infamous "Zoot Suit Riots" of 1943 Los Angeles forever tatoo'd Zoot Suits and the label "Pachuco" onto the Mexican Americans who dared to call themselves Chicanos at the time in an almost self-loathing & negative tone for the uninformed and those wishing to assimilate unscathed during & after the World War II era‘«™
‘«™but there was also a more memorable, bold, colorful, and artistic flavor of the time that identified the people, customs, music, and dancing as unique that still survives today, and clings to the history of the boldness of being Chicano in L.A. in the 1940s & 50s.
Putting all that into a positive perspective, I felt a sense of pride that comes up every so often at events like these‘«™which sadly don't happen too often anymore.
Like the surge of pride & energy I get whenever I get a chance to see Aztec or Native American authentic dancers perform, knowing that my ancestors have kept this alive for thousands of years, seeing and being part of a large crowd of Chicanos & Chicanas in Zoot Suits and Pachuca attire gave me a sense of "being home again," as I recalled my parents and other long lost relatives (R.I.P.) who were part of the L.A. scene in the 1940's & 50's and the way they danced & partied, the way they dressed, the way they talked, the old pictures, and the stories they once shared.
Times and attitudes have mellowed & adjusted over the years in L.A., but the pride was so thick on Sunday, you could wrap it in a tortilla & take a big bite!
I was honored to be asked to serve as Host & MC, and with a little help from MC PANCHO, we made it the Pachucos 2 event at Steven's Steak House on Sunday, Apirl 19, a party! It was a sold out success !
Opening the show was FREDDY G & The SMOOTH RESPONSE Band. Known for being a popular TOP 40 club dance band, Smooth Response changed it's performance format, dressed up nicely, and gave the crowd a good old fashioned dose of L.A. classic rock & roll, cumbias, and Old School R&B~ Boogie (the REAL kind) music that had everybody up & getting down on the dance floor.
Gente were looking GOOD tirando chancla!...how some of them pretty Pachucas danced in them high heels almost defied science & gravity! LOL!
Midway through their set, saxophonist Bobby "The Original TIERRA Zoot Suiter" Navarrette and Louie "The Soul Pachuco" Parra joined Smooth Response on stage, and the Oldies & Boogie music went up a notch.
Man! The place got so hot, we had to turn up the air conditioning, and the waitresses had their hands full bringing cool drinks to everybody!
Then, as Steven's Steakhouse filled to capacity, the band that has become a Chicano cultural icon throughout the Southern United States & northern Mexico came on stage.
PACHUCO JOSE Y LOS DIAMANTES, the most authentic 1940s & 50s Chicano Boogie Band in the United States today, came on to a large roar from the crowd‘«™and the dance floor stood full till the end.
Dressed the part, dancing the part, singing the part‘«™it's as though we were all transported back into the 1940's & 50's as well dressed Pachucas & Pachucos hit the dance floor in the elegant ballroom setting of Steven's Steakhouse, yours truly included, all trying to out-boogie each other while Pachuco Jose Y Los Diamantes treated us to the sweetest original 1940's & 50's Chicano Soul music you ever heard!
‘«™and I had a sweet flashback of my parents and all my Tios & Tias & all their compadres "jitterbugging" at a house party like when I was a little kid more than a half a century ago‘«™hope I did them & their memory justice on the dance floor!
A big thanks to Geronimo Garcia & the staff of Steven's Steakhouse for putting on such a memorable event.
Author's note: For info on future events at Steven's Steakhouse, contact Geronimo Garcia at 323-761-6496
Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & The Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on World wide Internet Radio station www.eastLArevue.com and is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine.
Email the author