La Raza Meets Up at Coachella 2014

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is synonymous with intense heat, soreness, dehydration, and pain, and yet it never fails to sell out every year. It is recognized world-wide as the official opener for music festival season, and people from all over the world are willing to pay small fortunes just to be able to attend. The truth is that although Coachella might be one of the most uncomfortable and exhausting experiences, what it ultimately offers is a lifetime’s memories of a weekend filled with thrills and a whole lot of dancing and music. No one is impervious to the Coachella effect, including the Latino community.

It seems like Coachella has a special appeal to Latinos, as their presence is definitely apparent. If you’re camping on location, you’ll see several cars with car plates ranging from Baja California to Mexico D.F. As you make your way around, you will undoubtedly hear many a person speaking fluently in Spanish. And it all culminates when la raza comes all together in support of the few (and in this year’s case, only) Latino bands that play the festival, and the crowd turns into a passionate mass of people that whoops and shouts and dances nonstop. Last year’s Coachella saw a donkey-shaped piñata making its rounds at the Café Tacuba and 3Ball MTY shows, and this year, the Mexican flag was present at the show put on by Zoé at the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon, in which lead singer León Larregui even took the time to acknowledge it and comment on its beauty.

There’s even a group on Facebook called “Mexicanos en Coachella” which specializes on sharing the latest news regarding the festival, survival tips, and support for those in need of transportation or a place to stay. When the festival is actually ongoing, there is an appointed person from the group that carries with them the Mexican flag that lets others know of the Latino presence, and they even organize group meet-ups in which they give out free pins commemorating the event.

As it turns out, Coachella is a particularly memorable event for Latinos every year. Latinos are both represented by at least one musical act every year at the festival and, unofficially, by this Facebook group that seeks to help and prepare those who are about to set out on the phenomenon that is Coachella.

So if you are a Latino who is thinking or already planning on attending next year, never fear and know that you are not alone. La raza will come out and support you wholeheartedly.

Dia de Los Muertos: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

On November 2, Hollywood Forever hosted its 14th annual Dia de Los Muertos. The theme for the celebration was El Magico Mundo de Los Alebrijes, brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of magical creatures. The event featuring an altar contest, arts and crafts, food and local vendors, a Calaca costume contest, and live performances, highlighting special performers such as Saul Hernandez and Buyepongo. Photos by Melissa Merrill and Erika Ramirez


Dia de Los Muertos: UCLA Grupo de Folklorico

Grupo Folklorico de UCLA hosted its annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration on campus in Ackerman Grand Ballroom. The event featured dance performances, a community altar, face painting, arts & crafts, and Pan de Muerto. Special guest performers included Conjunto Tenocelomeh, Cabeza de Vaca Cultural School, and Ballet Folklorico Alma de Oro de Carson. Photos by Mayra Jones, Melissa Merrill, and Erika Ramirez

Dia de Los Muertos: Self Help Graphics

A Día de Los Muertos Celebration was hosted by Self Help Graphics & Art, located on East 1st Street in Boyle Heights. Along with vendors and face painting, there was musical entertainment and altars. Little shops were set up to sell many Día de Los Muertos themed clothes and trinkets, while food vendors sold various things, from pan de muerto to elotes. People dressed in elegant costumes and had elaborate face paintings. The venue was filled with interesting, friendly people from nearby communities, creating an inviting and extremely fun environment throughout the night. Photos by Mayra Jones and Madelinn Ornelas

Dia de Los Muertos: Placita Olvera

The Dia de Los Muertos celebration at Placita Olvera took place from October 25 through November 2. During this time, there were candlelit Novenario processions every night with free pan dulce and champurrado offered at the end. On the actual Day of the Dead, hundreds of people were able to enjoy face painting, Aztec dancers, folklorico, strolling mariachi bands, and street theater performances. Traditional community and merchant altars were on display outdoors in the Plaza area as well. Photos by Mayra Jones

Con Todo, Menos Carne

“Mija,” my mother said, “do you want to eat?”

“Yes, mother. But just to remind you, I’m vegetarian.”

“Let’s go to McDonalds! They have chicken nuggets and

you can eat it because it’s not red meat,” my sister said.

While my sister’s idea may seem like a reasonable Latino perspective, the reality is that a vegetarian avoids eating all kinds of meat. I surveyed 83 Latinos to see what they thought of vegetarianism and what a vegetarian diet consists of. Over a quarter of respondents identified seafood as an acceptable part of a vegetarian diet. Others thought vegetarians could eat red meat and chicken.

I became a vegetarian during the 40 days of Lent, meaning that my diet had no meat and no seafood. But I found that, despite the Lenten tradition of giving up meat on Fridays, this radical lifestyle is still foreign to many Latinos.

When deciding what we should have for the family dinner, my tío Ramón suggested ceviche, because it is a meal he thought everyone could share. Case in point.

One reason my uncle may have suggested seafood is that the meatless Lenten diet may include fish and seafood on Fridays. For many Latinos, the 40 days of Lent are the closest they have ever come to being vegetarian. Perhaps this is why my family cannot fully grasp the concept of vegetarianism.

Being vegetarian, is not part of the Latino cultural logic. Nearly 60 percent of Latinos I surveyed indicated that vegetarianism was not part of Latino culture.

I recently visited Carnitas Michoacan, a 24-hour Mexican restaurant in East Los Angeles, the heart of the Latino population in LA. I ordered a cheese quesadilla, mentioning to the cashier that I was vegetarian. She asked whether I wanted carne asada, carnitas, pollo, or chorizo.

I repeated that I am a vegetarian. She looked surprised. After I placed my order, I heard her yell to the cook. He responded, “¿Con qué tipo de carne?” (What type of meat?) She responded, “Sin nada.” (None.) The cook said, “¿De verdad? ¿Sin nada? ¿Cómo puede ser esto?” (Really? None? How can this be?)

My family members are clearly not the only ones who do not understand what it means to be vegetarian. My experience with vegetarianism shows me how little Latinos know about the vegetarian lifestyle.

It has now been over a month since I broke my Lenten vow of vegetarianism. But I found that I did not miss meat that much. Despite my family’s initial shock, they have come to a different understanding of vegetarianism.

If you were to give a title to the Latino diet what would it be? Email your response to [email protected]

Con Amor,

La Boquisabrosa