Baile of Rights

A free press and inalienable booty-shaking

 Not long ago, I attended a Los Tigres del Norte concert at a small hall with no dance floor. The people attending were supposed to sit down and enjoy the music. Five minutes into the music, these jumping beans started dancing in the aisle. Within minutes, half of the attendees were going up and down the aisles dancing to the music. It's not the first time I've seen Mexicans create improvised dance floors. Why do Mexicans love dancing so much?
Lambada Louie

Dear Gabacho:
Anyone who needs to ask why people dance to Los Tigres del Norte — the norteño supergroup that combines traditional polka beats with socially conscious lyrics to create something that's part Clash, part Lawrence Welk, and puro mexicano — has no soul or is a gabacho. How can you not sway to their metronomic bass, their lush accordion trills, their canned sound effects, member Hernán Hernández's mexcelente Mexi-mullet? Mexican music is amongst the most danceable outside Brazil because its practitioners understand that music is, first and foremost, something to stir humanity into the realm of ecstasy via nalga-shaking. Almost all the genres that constitute Mexican popular music — the aforementioned norteño, the brass-band strut of banda sinaloense, son jarocho's twinkling harps and guitars, even the dark riffs of Mexican heavy metal — put the focus on rhythms rather than lyrics (the exception is ranchera, the domain of drunkards and macho pussy men).

But dancing for Mexicans is more than a mere physical act. Every hallmark moment in Mexican society is centered on dances — weddings, baptisms, informal gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries. More noteworthy are the dances held by hometown benefit associations that raise thousands of dollars for the rebuilding of hometowns in Mexico. Tellingly, Mexican society does not consider girls and boys to be women or men until they begin to dance. Once they're eligible to dance, Mexicans are eligible to take care of their community, too. Mexicans know that dancing solidifies trust, creates community, and repairs the injured civic and personal soul. Besides, it's a great way for Mexican adolescents to grope one another in a parent-approved environment.

I detect a strong, anti-American bias in the local Spanish-language media -- or is it my imagination?
Viva Lou Dobbs

Dear Gabacho:
I forwarded the above pregunta to Pilar Marrero. She’s a nationally syndicated columnist and features editor for the Los Angeles-based La Opinión, the nation's largest Spanish-language daily.

Why is the Spanish-language press anti-American?
Who says the Spanish media is anti-American?
Some gabacho. So why do you think so many Americans are afraid of the Spanish-language press?
Many Americans don't even know Spanish language press exists . . . I don't know for a fact that Americans, like you say, are afraid of the Spanish-language press. I think many Americans are misled by their leaders to fear foreigners and immigrants because it's human nature to fear that which is different. And the leaders use it to manipulate people for political reasons.
Do you get e-mails from gabachos accusing you of being anti-American?
No, I never get e-mail from “gabachos” calling me or [La Opinión] anti-American. “Gabachos,” as you call them, rarely read La Opinión. I thought you knew that.

For the record, gabachos have historically distrusted America's foreign-language media since immigrants used newspapers and radio programs to espouse radicalism -- for instance, the Industrial Workers of the World (the infamous “Wobblies”) published their daily in Finnish, while Jewish socialists used Yiddish-language papers like The Forward as mouthpieces. But don't worry about today's Spanish-language media, Viva Lou Dobbs -- with the exception of La Opinión, it's just as devoid of news as the gabacho media, but with more dwarves and big-breasted chicas.

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

 
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