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"Ethnic" Los Angeles

Comparative Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality

Anne Cong-Huyen, Thania Lucero, Joyce Park, Constance Cheeks, Charlie Kim, Sophia Cole, Julio Damian Rodriguez, Andrea Mora, Jazz Kiang, Samantha Tran, Katie Nak, Authors

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Mariachi Plaza: The Goal

Amongst the most vividly Mexican/Latino/Hispanic communities in Los Angeles stands a flourishing and colorful street corner in North Boyle Heights Avenue that is mostly recognized by the name “Mariachi Plaza.” The plaza was named after the mariachi musicians who have gathered there since 1930s performing melodies that would get them hired to play at restaurants, private parties or community events (López, Catherine). It is mostly through the performances of these musicians that the community has its vibrant atmosphere today. Because of the variety of consumerism of mariachi music taking primary place in this plaza (Pulido, Barraclough, Cheng), it is this group’s intention to further analyze the ways in which the culture behind the mariachi genre serve as ways to help different cultures interact with each other. Most importantly, this group seeks to analyze the ways in which the Mexican culture represents itself amongst other cultures in a multiethnic community such as Mariachi Plaza, which connects East First Street, Boyle and Pleasant Avenue in one single community.

The investigation is to be qualitative, using face-to-face interviews and observations of musicians as primary methods regarding their main reasons for playing in Mariachi Plaza, their immediate experience interacting with cultures other than Hispanics while performing, and their input on how they present the Mexican culture amongst the community of Boyle Heights. Therefore, our research is more observational than research. Pictures and videos of the musicians would be taken while they are interviewed to capture data on how it is that they portray their culture and connect with other cultures (if they do) in the plaza on a personal level. Quotes of their testimonials as well as the images and videos would be gathered through the lenses of each of the interviewees. The second part to our observation will be within the “Mariachi Plaza” and taking pictures around the hotel to analyze how the mariachi culture has affected the community or not.

 Through the use of media, we will attempt to answer in our project some questions that might be important to understanding this genre of music: How do these mariachis use the space and place to present their culture? What other cultures are involved with their services? How do these interactions serve as bridges for communication amongst cultures?

 The main goal with Scalar is to make a pathway for the reader, starting from the general history of mariachi music in Los Angeles with historical context, to additional pages with our personal media involving interviews with the musicians and their music as well as our own personal narrative of the plaza.

The two group members for this project will be Damian and Andrea. Damian will analyze how it is that the musicians and their culture interact with others through their music and through grassroots to their culture. He will also examine the portrayal of the Mexican culture in the surroundings of the entire plaza, paying particular attention to the direct communication between the visitors and the native users of the space. To get a first person view of how mariachi music has played a tremendous part in Los Angeles culture, Andrea will partake in interviews with locally known mariachi artists and discover first-hand how this genre of music has not only musical interests, but is associated with both individualism and a sense of culture and belonging to an ethnicity as well as how space is an important factor for this group of individuals.

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