Rock n’ Roll, the
musical style and movement that birthed modern music. Born in the USA
in the early 1950s with roots in African Music, Blues and Gospel, and
destined to forever change the way we listen to music. Rock n Roll
arrived like a storm changing everything on its path, the music of
youth and rebellion, with icons like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and
Buddy Holly amongst others. It inspired an entire generation to
create their own music and to evolve the genre into endless
possibilities forever changing the way we create and listen to
music… But what about other countries? Ever wondered how has Rock
n’ Roll affected different places on earth?
beginnings, Rock n Roll has never been popular with authority, and in
Mexico it was no different. Rock n Roll has always been an expression
of freedom and rebellion which to the government was nothing more
than an all-out assault on tradition and morality, a violation of the
ideological foundations of a country that has always been highly
catholic with little to no separation between church and state. Rock
n Roll was an explosion of youth expression a very strong contrast
with the generations that came before that moment, and with it came
new fashion, miniskirts and tight jeans, colorful shirts and long
hair…it was definitely not something the government of Mexico was
prepared to allow and it soon begun to link this new movement to
immorality, depravity and even satanism.
Rock n Roll became
public enemy number one and since the government owned and controlled
all media, the president at the time Miguel Aleman Valdez and the
Regent Uruchurtu launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate this new
movement of Rock n Roll that was a danger to society. Places called
“Cafe Cantante” which were dedicated to playing Rock and Roll
became illegal and closed down. Most shops and restaurants adopted
policies that would not allow long hair or immoral clothes in their
premises…imagine the town of Footloose but as an entire country.
the next decade, Mexico was under authoritarian rule. Young people
were expected to submit and obey without question, any expression of
rebellion as small as it was could be seen as a threat to the state
and would be silenced, this included freedom of speech and any
dispute against the ruling powers. The
begun to forbid gatherings of young people justifying this act as a
threat to national security.
1971 during the boom of psychedelic rock in USA and England, Mexico
was still behind, with two decades of prohibition of Rock n Roll the
youth was restless. Two young impresarios decided to organize a car
race in the town of Avandaro and figured it would be a nice moment to
promote some healthy concert featuring Rock n Roll. Well the word
spread like fire through Mexico about this event. A nation thirsty
for Rock n Roll couldn’t care less about car races but they traveled
long and wide to attend this Rock festival that would later be known
as Mexican Woodstock. An estimate of 500,000 people showed up to the
festival…the music starts and people loose it. Decades of
oppression go up in smoke in a couple songs, people dance and have
the times of their lives…some sets into the concert and people
start chanting “tenemos el poder” (we’ve got the power) The
government was not cool with that.
the festival ended, the government took to the media again to
satanize the festival, all headlines read SEX, DRUGS, RIOTS, FRENZY,
WILDNESS! And from that moment the Rock prohibition comes back
stronger than the first time around. Radio and Television were
forbidden to broadcast the music, it became illegal to listen to Rock
n Roll or dress like a Rocker, police were allowed to detain, arrest
and eventually brutalize any “rockers” they found on the streets,
being a rocker was outlawed and you could go to jail…or worse. It
was a complete blackout for Rock n Roll in the entire country.
like anytime anything becomes illegal…it will find a way to thrive,
and in Mexico that came in the way of “Hoyos Fonqui” (Funky Holes)
Illegal places where people would gather to play and listen to Rock.
These places were often somebody’s garage or an abandoned house, some
construction site, a warehouse or literally any damn place where you
could hide from authority to get your music on. Unlawful places where
anyone could go and some even profited from this by selling beer in
plastic bags or any substance you could think of. Oftentimes even
bent cops would assist these concerts selling whatever they had
confiscated earlier or charging for the concert as if they owned the
place. Every once and then the real police would raid these places
arresting hundreds of people at once.
took 15 years for Rock n Roll to become accepted into Mexican
society. In 1986 a publicity campaign called “Rock en tu Idioma”
(Rock in your language) begun to promote Rock and Roll in Mexico for
the first time. A great number of Mexican rock bands begun to
surge…only thirty years after the rest of the world had lived
through this movement.
date there is a delay in modern musical styles in Mexico as several
stages and sub-genres of Rock never had the time to thrive in the
country where the music was prohibited for so long.
Me, after a very exasperating session which started with the new party member attacking the party while chained to the ceiling and ended with a bear eating a kuo and a monk trying to use another as a boxing glove.