Jaraneros and Jarochas: The Meanings of Fandangos and Son Jarocho in Immigrant and Diasporic Performance
This paper analyses the different ways that two groups in the Los Angeles area use son jarocho, a musical practice from Veracruz, Mexico and the participatory values in a fandango, a communal gathering, to build community and to connect with their Mexican heritage. The first group is composed primarily of Mexican Americans and Chicanas/os who refer to themselves as jaraneros, or players of the main son jarocho instrument, the jarana. For the jaraneros, fandangos provide an opportunity for people to come together in a democratic setting in which the main tenets of neo-liberalism such as competition and privileging the individual over the community are eradicated. The jaraneros are also connected to the Zapatista movement and a global effort to re-examine and ultimately challenge the new world order and its modes of capitalism like free trade under NAFTA. The second group, the jarochas, is composed primarily of immigrants from Veracruz. For members of this group, playing son jarocho is about connecting with their traditions from their hometowns in Veracruz and building community with others from that part of Mexico. Using these two communities as my case studies, I demonstrate the different ways that diasporic and immigrant communities cultivate the practice of fandango and son jarocho in Los Angeles. I argue that the meaning each group has assigned to this practice is reflective of each one's respective relationships to the homeland, Mexico, and more specifically to Veracruz, where son jarocho originates.