The Fandango Life: Resurrecting Son Jarocho Beyond La Bamba

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The teens of Cosoleacaque throw fandangos whenever they get the chance. They'll buy snacks and sodas, and set up the tarima at somebody's house. They invite each other on Facebook and via text message. People come from towns all over the region. They stay up playing until sunrise, playing the same centuries-old songs that their grandparents and great-grandparents played. There's rarely a grown-up in sight.

Hanging out at the Friday night fandango with José and his friends felt like an alternate universe where young people awesomely decide to choose their traditions over modernity's cheap thrills. If you ask Jose and his friends why they spend their weekends playing this old music, the answers are simple. "The fandango is great because you meet new people," says José. "I've made so many great friends through son jarocho."

In short: it's just really fun. It's a place to express yourself. A place to flirt and meet somebody cute, and maybe even share a dance with them on the tarima. When you think about it, why would you choose to stay inside and play video games when you could be out singing and playing music together with your friends, all night long?

"It's not just about playing the music," says Benito Cortés, a member of local son jarocho stars Los Cojolites and a teacher for one of the longest-running workshops. "The fandango is a vehicle for building relationships. Through the music and the tradition people are getting into contact with each other again, getting to know each other and recognizing each other as a people from a place. This is really important, and little by little, we're getting there."

Benito kind of nails it for me. A generation ago, modernity and industry came in and disrupted the way people had celebrated together for centuries. Today's young people in Veracruz are stitching their communities back together, one fandango at a time. And then talking all about it tomorrow on Facebook.

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