arts and entertainment, politics

A Brief History of Mexican Rock

Avandaro Onderos

A group of Onderos relaxing at the Avandaro Music Festival, 1971

In September of 1971 300,000 people culminated in a small town in southern Mexico in anticipation of what would come to be known as Mexican Woodstock or Festival de Rock y Ruedas Avandaro. What had started off as a one-day motorcycle show with a 2 band set list, eventually spiraled into a 2 day, 18 act concert with motorcycles left by the wayside. This festival was unlike anything the citizens of Mexico had seen before and ultimately changed the musical landscape across the country.

Towards the end of the 60s, Mexico faced political and civil unrest. The turbulence culminated in the Massacre of Tlaltelolco in 1968 and the Corpus Christi Massacre in 1971, where the government brutally killed over 400 civilian protesters and wounded over 1,300 others. In the wake of these events, a new movement was created called La Onda Chicano.

Massacre of Tlatelolco

Police brutality as witnessed at the height of the Massacre of Tlatelolco, 1968

corpus christi massacre

Protesters at the rally in Corpus Christi moments before government-sponsored “halcones” made the scene erupt into chaos, 1971

La Onda was a “multidisciplinary artistic movement created in Mexico by artists and intellectuals as part of the worldwide waves of the counterculture of the 1960s and the avant-garde.” The goal of this movement was to address social issues at the time, given the tight ruling and oppression from the current administration – the PRI party.

La Onda Student Rally

A rally of student protesters leading a campaign against the government during La Onda, 1968

One of the strong oppositional tools La Onda used was music. With the insurgence of British and American influences, the rock scene slowly began to emerge in pockets throughout Mexico. Bands such as El Ritual, Los Dug Dugs, and El Tri helped spread the messages of La Onda into the minds of the dissatisfied youth, thereby spreading the countercultural movement.

El Ritual

The band El Ritual was one of the prominent voices of La Onda movement

This social revolt reached a crescendo at the event which formally came to be known as Avandaro – a two day long rock festival held in southern Mexico. While many dispute the actual number, organizers and social investigators alike claim that over 300,000 people were in attendance. In this way, the festival escaped its original purpose as a way for local motorcyclists to show off their bikes, and became a full-fledged Mexican Woodstock.

Filled with open drug use, nudity, arts, and the distribution of radical new social ideology, the oppressive government feared for their control over Mexican society and after the first few hours of the festival, ordered for the termination of any live feeds of the concert. Moreover, the government banned concerts, radio broadcasts and recording of rock music, and went so far as to order the media to disparage the culture surrounding rock and roll as “incorrect, grotesque, and immoral”.

Avandaro Music Festival

Two youths joyfully share a smoke at the Avandaro Festival, 1971

This tactic of suppression was met with much success, as the sounds of rock music quickly faded under the much less inflammatory tones of rancheras, polka, and other traditional Mexican music. Nonetheless, rock continued on, albeit underground in locations dubbed “hoyos funky” or Funky Holes.

Abandoned factories, farmlands, and even some homes were used to subvert the governments censorship and host rock concerts. These shows featured prominent acts from the time including Toncho Pilatos, La Revolución de Emiliano Zapata, and Javier Batiz and could host up to 20,000 people. Like Avandaro, these venues typically served alcoholic beverages, were open to drug use and informally charged entry.

Hoyo Funky Performer

A performer engages the crowd during a show at an Hoyo Funky, c. 1971-72

Hoyo Funky

Gathering of Onderos at an Hoyo Funky show, c. 1971-72

While some bands continued to play their sound in these Hoyos Funky, the damage had been dealt and many acts at the time moved on to play more commercial and less repressed music or quit outright. The few surviving rock recordings of the counterculture movement in Mexico have gone on to critical acclaim, with many of these records being sought after by collectors.

It is certain that the governments oppression at this pivotal time in Mexican history lead to many other social injustices down the road, but thankfully, variation in Mexican music has been making a recovery and is in full bloom today.

Thank you for reading.

A compilation of some of the artists mentioned in this article can be found here:
https://open.spotify.com/user/silvaros29/playlist/2cE2aZEBMF0PMouxy3LXks?si=ZvTOxj33T6qB7D6rs9yzOw

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/silvaros29/playlist/2cE2aZEBMF0PMouxy3LXks

For more information about Avandaro, La Onda Chicano, and other historical Mexican events, visit these resources:
https://issuu.com/odeenrocha/docs/la-contracultura-en-mexico
http://www.maph49.galeon.com/avandaro/ritual.html
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyo_fonky
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival_Rock_y_Ruedas_de_Avándaro
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Christi_massacre
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlatelolco_massacre
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Onda
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DVR66NZBHk

Credit for the photos used here-in:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CHJIZqoUkAAZ4Mv.jpg
https://distintaslatitudes.net/los-hoyos-funkies-en-la-ciudad-de-mexico
https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/tlatelolco-massacre-remembered-today/
https://notevenpast.org/plaza-sacrifices-gender-power-and-terror-1968-mexico-2005/

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arts and entertainment

What is Chicano Beat?

Yo soy Joaquín,
Perdido en un mundo de confusión.
I am Joaquín,
Lost in a world of confusion.

In his poem, “I am Joaquín”, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez expressed the disillusionment of many Latin Americans at the time. In the face of social and economic injustices, Hispanic Americans united to combat the prejudice they were facing. They began to challenge their assimilation into the white-dominated society and in the process reclaimed a derogatory term for their people – Chicano – as a symbol of pride. Though the social climate of America is improving, Chicanos still face much of the intolerance and xenophobia their ancestors tried to leave behind.

A revitalized interest in partitioning the US from Mexico, the separation of children from their illegally immigrating parents, an unshakable association with the drug war for the whole of Hispanic people – these issues are real and constant. Many of the Latinos I know seem to meet these issues with indifference. Whether that’s due to fatigue (these issues are long standing, with no ready compromise in sight) or general disinterest, I feel more than ever that it has to stop. We need to become interested in these issues, in our culture and its preservation.

This blog will be dedicated to propagating and preserving Hispanic News, History, and Culture from a Chicano point of view. Yes we have to assimilate, but we must also learn how to keep ourselves intact.

Sources:
Image of Farm Workers of America Rally:
http://www.takepart.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/96357684.jpg
“I am Joaquín” by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales excerpt:
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/latinos/joaquin.htm
Sources for text:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicano_Movement
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/21/chicano_n_1990226.html
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