In the annals of Lenten celebrations ala Carnaval and Mardi Gras, few match the desmadre that is the pachanga that happens during Easter weekend and the week that follows in Jerez, Zacatecas, the ancestral home of our Mexican-in-Chief and tens of thousands of other Mexican-Americans in Orange County and Southern California. But understanding the current fear that people have of traveling to México, the ingenious promoters of La Noria Entertainment-- who have made a fortune by catering to the Mexican-American horse-loving niche market of charrería and jaripeos-- decided to take a gamble and is bringing Jerez to Southern California in an event that will take place on Saturday, March 30th at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena heralded as "Sábado de Glorio 2013- Fiesta Zacatecana en USA" featuring at least 7 bandas directly from Jerez, including La Número Uno Banda Jerez, whose energy pumps up the crowd á la Rage and La Chacaloza, whose lyrics rival those of 2 Live Crew.
Truthfully, it's bizarre to think that these bands, alongside La Auténtica de Jerez Zacatecas, and El Nono y su Banda Reina de Jerez-- which are amongst the town's most popular-- will play in Pico Rivera on Saturday instead of headlining their own stage along Jerez's main street as they have in years past. Sure, here there will also be horses and cowboy boots, cervezas and tamborazos, and many prospects to hook up with a fellow SoCal Jerezano, but will it be the same?
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Here's the real deal:
What the hell would a small town in the central part of México have to offer spring breakers, you might ask? The holy trinity of a proper mexican pachanga: booze, babes, and banda. For generations, Orange County's Mexican and Mexican-American population from Jerez would take their daring friends on a pilgrimage to the motherland during Easter weekend and the week that follows for a fiesta comparable to Mardi Gras. If the Creole know how to party their way into Lent, jerezanos equally know how to party their way out of it. Tradition in Jerez has been that, on Holy Saturday, a crowd of up to 50,000 cast away their 40-day penance and make up for lost time by engaging in a whole lot of desmadre: dueling bands on stages lining each corner for a mile-long stretch, charros on horseback trotting amongst the crowds in search of the day's romantic conquest, and cerveza. Lots of beer. Massive amounts of beer.
Tragically, given the current environment that has afflicted México--and the U.S. State Department's warnings not to travel south of the border--these past couple of years the crowds have significantly diminished and the fiestas have just not been the same. This Saturday, the party will go on, but after the sound of the tambora fades into the night and the dust of the jaripeo settles, many questions will remain. We have seen Mother Nature strike and interrupt the party, as was the case in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but the people rallied to keep their culture alive and the pachanga going; how about when the disaster is a social one, and man-made, as is the current state of affairs in México? Will the people confront themselves and rally to keep their own culture alive? Will it evolve? Migrate? Or simply die? Perhaps the answer to these won't be known for some time, but one thing is for sure: the terrain has changed and the success of this weekend's events--on both sides of the border--will direct a new path.
Sábado de Gloria 2013- Fiesta Zacatecana en USA will take place on 3/30/13 at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena 12 noon. Tickets available at their box office, Ticket Master or El Toro in Santa Ana.