Among other reasons, zoot suits are remembered for making Edward James Olmos look good, and for being the subject of a Cherry Poppin' Daddies song. So what if that swing revival didn't really pan out?
But for promoters Joe Black and Abel Silva, the zoot suit is a symbol of the pachucos, a culture born out of Chicanos and Mexican youth from the mid-20th century. Black and Silva promote this lifestyle with The Pachuco Boogie Show, a monthly music and culture event that began two months ago at The Conga Room. It will celebrate its third installment this Sunday at its new home at Los Globos, with live performances from The Boogaloo Assassins, Luis and the Wildfires and The Frantic Rockers, among others.
Both Black and Silva grew up with the pachuco lifestyle and the music, which incorporates elements of swing, rockabilly, and big band. For years, they've been promoting rockabilly-pachuco shows with help from others; it wasn't until late last year that they decided the celebration was ready for prime time.
“We're not trying to re-invent the wheel,” says Black. “It's more of a tribute to Tin Tan, Lalo Guerrero, Don Totsi and all the great artists that came along.”
The name Pachuco Boogie comes from the title a song by legendary pachuco artist Don Tosti, born Edmundo Martinez Tostado, whose work is recognized at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. The work incorporated aspects of rhythm & blues, jazz and boogie and helped popularize pachuco culture — the clothes, the cars, cruising, the slang — throughout the U.S.
Pachuco Boogie featured Caló, Chicano slang that mixed English and Spanish words and phrases used by pachucos together, and was the first million-selling record by a Hispanic artist.
“We're incorporating that variety,” says Black, “that art, that music, that sound, that vibe, the dancing, and the clothing and bringing it out in a positive manner. There are so many different people out there that appreciate the lifestyle and the music and they're productive human beings. They're not a bunch of guys sitting in a garage smoking weed all day.”
The Pachuco Boogie Show is this Sunday, April 29th, at Los Globos at 8 p.m