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Fandango de Durham 2022 brings Son Jarocho to the Bull City

In the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, the first-ever Fandango de Durham is here to help further appreciation of Latinx culture in the Bull City. 

A fandango is a community ritual celebration revolving around Son Jarocho music, Mexican zapateado dancing on top of a wooden platform called a tarima, abundant food and laughing for hours well into the night. Son Jarocho is a regional folk style of music originating from the Mexican state of Veracruz, a mix of Spanish, African, Caribbean and Indigenous music. 

Thanks to Sophia Enriquez and Alexandra Maria Landeros, who together make up the Durham-based band Son de Carolina, Son Jarocho is now coming to Durham. Enriquez, who is also an assistant professor of music at Duke, states the pair are passionate about Son Jarocho music “as a way to connect more to Mexican culture.” 

Wishing to cultivate an environment where Latinx culture is “not afraid to take up space,” Enriquez applied to grants through Duke Global and the North Carolina Arts Council to help make the event possible. She encourages Duke students to join the fandango as “a chance to get to know Durham and the Latino community of Durham.” 

The event is divided into two different dates. First, a concert will take place at The Fruit in downtown Durham Sept. 21 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Local duo Larry and Joe will open the evening by presenting a fusion of Venezuelan joropo and Appalachian bluegrass. Headlining performers will be Wendy and Tacho of the Los Utrera family of Son Jarocho, who hail from the El Hato community of Veracruz. Los Utrera have participated in some of the most well-known Son Jarocho festivals and were featured in the award-winning film, “Fandango at the Wall.”

On Thursday,  Sept. 22, Los Utrera will continue its celebration in Durham by holding a workshop and fandango. The workshop will be held at the Durham Bottling Company, opening at 6 p.m. There, Wendy and Tacho will showcase the primary Son Jaropo instrument, the jarana, for the public to practice with. The pair will also teach the basics of the zapateado dance style, which often accompanies Son Jaropo music. The fandango will start at 8 p.m.

The fandango is much more than just music. There will be Latinx food vendors, Mexican artisan goods and photography for sale from Iximche media, all parts of a community collaboration. As a testament to the community’s joint efforts and cohesiveness, work by local artist Antonio Alanis features on the fandango’s promotional flyers, and t-shirts to be sold at the event feature a bull playing the jarana in honor of Son Jarocho gracing the Bull City. 

The event is still looking for volunteers, particularly bilingual greeters and food servers. Tilde, a local language justice cooperative, will be providing professional interpretation services to make sure the event is accessible to monolingual people as well. 

Considering the history of Son Jarocho — which includes periods of being outlawed in Veracruz but not stopping Afro-Mexican communities from holding fandangos — Enriquez describes Son Jarocho as “a resistance music,” something she believes young people at Duke can identify with.

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