Based on fieldwork in Mexico City this paper takes the notion of nostalgia to explore how contemporary male dancers of danzón develop musical and dancing personae in relation to media representations of 1940s and 1950s Mexican masculinities. The paper focuses on the pachucos, a growing group of dancers from different danzón scenes in
the country that get their inspiration from zoot suit culture to generate icons of Mexican masculinity based on values that contemporary society growingly finds more and more objectionable. I argue that the public presentation of their pachuco dancing persona provides a space for the negotiation of their aspirations and desires, and the expectations from society. These pachuco dancing personae bring back the mystique of chivalry and aggressiveness of a masculinity found desirable at the height of the Mexican project of nation building, but one that seems to slowly fade away in the growingly transnational culture that contemporary Mexicans live in. However, I suggest that Mexican danzón dancing pachucos represent a contradictory and obscure aspect of gender relations that placed masculinity at the center of Mexican nationality and refuses to completely go away in contemporary Mexico.
Alejandro L. Madrid (Ph.D. Ohio State) is an ethnomusicologist and cultural theorist whose research focuses on the intersection of modernity, tradition, globalization, and ethnic identity in popular and art music, dance, and expressive culture from Mexico, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the circum-Caribbean. His interests range from the performance of democratic values through music, media, and technology, to questions of continuity, change, cosmopolitanism, and race in Latin American late 19th-century and 20th-century music, to transnationalism and embodied culture in contemporary electronic dance music.
Dr. Madrid is currently on the editorial board of the Latin American Music Review, Trans. Revista Transcultural de Música, and Dancecult. Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, and is senior editor of Latina/o and Latin American entries for The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2nd edition). He has also served on the council of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the executive board of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, the executive committee of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM)-U.S. Branch, and the advisory board of the Tepoztlán Institute for the Transnational History of the Americas.
His writings on music, performance, and popular culture have appeared in Boletín Música, Ethnomusicology, Fragmentos de Cultura, Heterofonía, Hispanic American Historical Review, Latin American Music Review, Latino Studies, Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, Resonancias, The World of Music, as well as Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World and The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He was also guest editor of a special issue on music and performance studies for Trans. Revista Transcultural de Música (2009).
Dr. Madrid’s books include Nor-tec Rifa! Electronic Dance Music from Tijuana to the World (Oxford University Press), Sounds of the Modern Nation. Music, Culture and Ideas in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (Temple University Press), and Music in Mexico. Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Oxford University Press). He has edited Transnational Encounters. Music and Performance at the U.S.-Mexico Border (Oxford University Press) and, with Ignacio Corona, Postnational Musical Identities. Cultural Production, Distribution and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario (Lexington Books). He is the recipient of the Woody Guthrie Book Award of the IASPM-US Branch (2010), the Casa de las Américas Award for Latin American Musicology (2005), the Samuel Claro Valdés Award for Latin American Musicology (2002), the A-R Editions Award of the American Musicological Society, Midwest Chapter (2001-2002), as well as fellowships and subventions from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Program, the Ford Foundation, and the American Musicological Society.
Dr. Madrid has held positions as researcher at Mexico’s Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical “Carlos Chávez” (CENIDIM) and as visiting scholar at the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies of the University of Texas at Austin and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte-Tijuana. He has taught musicology, ethnomusicology, music aesthetics, and music history courses at Northwestern University, Texas A & M University, and Universidad de las Américas/Puebla, and has been a guest professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Universidad de la República in Uruguay, Instituto Superior de Artes in Cuba, Universidad Nacional de San Martín and Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina, and The Newberry’s Teacher Consortium of the Newberry Library in Chicago. He is currently associate professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the Latin American and Latino Studies program of the University of Illinois at Chicago.