Culture is what has provided working class Mexicans the resilience to sustain themselves through centuries of neglect and abuse. The fortunate immigrant communities in the U.S. are able to maintain and continue traditions from their specific ancestral regions. Traditional culture involves active participation from all ages and connect generations as families negotiate dramatic changes to their lives and navigate their future.
This brief video provides an intimate glimpse of a traditional huapango (musical dance) held at the Marin City Recreational Center hosted by members of the community from a region of Guanajuato, Mexico, with a rich tradition of huapango arribeño and son huasteco. Thousands of people from this region have settled in the Bay Area since the 1970’s and began producing regular community dances in the past seven years.
This song features Bay Area based group Tradición de la Sierra with elder troubadour Pedro Sauceda Diaz visiting from San Luís Potosí. These events often raise funds for causes related to their pueblo of Xichú, Guanajuato, or to support community members in need. This event raised funds for Los Cenzontles Academy at which many of their San Pablo, Richmond and San Rafael Canal District based children have attended for many years.
The musical form presented here, almost unknown to people from outside the region, is called huapango arribeño (highlands huapango) that are played in three parts and can easily last 15 to 20 minutes depending on the poet and the dancers. The instrumentation is two violin with two folk guitars - the jarana huasteca and the huapanguera.
This video, created by our production team, features Don Pedro reciting three decimas (ten line poems) out of the five that form the first part of the song – in other words, just a small part of the entire piece. But we wanted to share this glimpse into this community gathering to demonstrate the power of living cultural traditions that unify and fortify our diverse, and often invisible, Mexican communities.