Honoring the Afro-Latinx Beat

UCSC to host ninth annual Pachanga event

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Pa-chang-a.

Noun.

1. A musical genre derived from the Latin American adoption and integration of African rhythmic music.

Illustration by Anna McGrew
Illustration by Anna McGrew

2. A Cuban dance of crafty footwork.

3. A term coined in the ‘50s to describe a celebration of music, dance and culture.

UC Santa Cruz’s Chicano Latino Resource Center (El Centro) and African American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC) are collaborating to host this year’s ninth annual Pachanga event to highlight the relationship between African and Latinx roots through conversation and entertainment.

“Pachanga, in it’s most basic form, is a celebration of Afro-Latinidad,” said El Centro student programs coordinator Carlos Gutierrez.

Afro-Latinidad is a term that refers to individuals of African descent within the Latinx community. In the 16th century, West Africans began to arrive as slaves in Latin America as part of the Atlantic slave trade. The Spanish empire attempted to destroy African identities and cultures but failed to dismantle African-rooted music, which soon flourished in Latin America.

The origins of African music incorporated instruments like the conga, kora and marimba to create upbeat tempos reflective of Latin and African cultures and music genres.

The intersection of African roots and the indigenous cultures of Latin America produced unique forms of music and dance, which became part of a culture known as Afro-Latinx. The culture created revolutionary music styles varying from hard-hitting reggaeton, to the smooth bachata and lively pachanga.

UCSC’s Pachanga has given agency to the Afro-Latinx community and other underrepresented UCSC students since 2008 through music and conversation about issues pertaining to the Afro-Latinx community.

“It’s important to have representation,” said fourth-year and AARCC intern Zayana Ross-Torrence. “There are some students in Santa Cruz that feel discouraged being here, and I was one of those students. Events like [Pachanga] kept me here.”

Ross-Torrence said she found support in AARCC because she finally found a group of people that represented her and other underrepresented members of the UCSC community. Events like Pachanga celebrate this inclusion and connect the cultural centers.

This year’s organizers showcase contemporary styles of music in Latin America that still hold true to Afro-Latinx root like reggaeton, bachata and cumbia. This year’s Pachanga event will host Afro-Latinx inspired musicians such as Oakland band, La Misa Negra.

La Misa Negra, whose name roughly translates to the black ritual, said it is inspired by cumbia’s origins in West Africa and the rhythms those slaves were able to hold onto when they arrived to Columbia. The band creates its music with the historic background in mind.

“My goal has always been to preserve the African Elements that this music was built upon,” La Misa Negra said in an email.

Pachanga manifested into an event that recognizes the relationship between African and Latin roots and the importance of representing mix-cultured groups.

“We have been highlighting Afro-Latinx trailblazers and talking about contentious issues in the community, [such as] clashes between the African American and Latin American communities, and seeing where Afro-Latinxs come in and speak out,” said El Centro student program coordinator Carlos Gutierrez.

Pachanga will be held in the Stevenson Event Center on March 10 at 7:00 p.m. The event planners aim to make it an inclusive space for students to listen to live music, dance and create community.

“We want to showcase that there’s intersectionality there,” Gutierrez said. “Not just in the programming that we do or in our friendships but also in our lineage, our heritage and roots.”