Over the course of the next week, we’re going to be following Pajaritos, Boston’s beat-bilingual duo and hosts of monthly Good Life bailando-heavy shindig Picó Picante, as they tour through Mexico. Below, here’s Day One of their viaje according to Sara Skolnick and Ernesto Morales.
DAY 1: HELLO, MEXICO
Ernesto: México, lindo y querido. On our flight into the city, even the customs form feels welcoming, as it allows foreigners to bring “a portable device for recording or reproducing sound,” and, generously, “two complete personal sports equipments, four fishing rods, three surf boards with or without sail and their accessories.”
The Morales–Diaz Barriga family home, in 1956 and 2012.
Ernesto: For the week, we’re camped out at the Morales estate, the dust-ridden second floor of a house that’s still standing after so many decades. The gradual, mango-skin peeling of its ceilings is no match for its awkward charm: the kitchen and the bathroom were swapped before I was born, leaving a porcelain toothbrush holster and a vanity mirror next to the kitchen sink – in cases of urgent need.
This place is still rich with family relics. We set aside family photos and diplomas cast in bronze to make room for our makeshift sound system.
Caption: Pajaritos at pulquería Las Dualistas in Mexico City
Sara: We formed as Pajaritos a bit more than a year ago, after spending several months experimenting with our sets to find our own voice. We found a vantage point to further explore a specific community of artists when we came across the sounds of producers and DJs Uproot Andy and Geko Jones, of New York’s pan-Latin Que Bajo?! party. Their particular style mixes folkloric and traditional music with electronic components to create bass-heavy Latin re-edits. We realized we’d found something that spoke to both of us.
Uproot Andy’s remix of “La Vida Vale la Pena” by Petrona Martínez
Sara: Both of us were born in the United States – Ernesto of Mexican parents, and myself of Ecuadorian and Lithuanian/Ukrainian heritage. We find ourselves living between cultures; not identifying completely with one or the other, nor with being American-American. For me, the epitome of my hybrid upbringing is a memory of listening to my father’s constantly-on-rotation Guns n Roses’ Appetite for Destruction cassette on the way to an Ecuadorian family reunion, where there’s no doubt that Elvis Crespo’s Suavemente will open and close the guaranteed dancing throughout the night.
Caption: Elvis Crespo – Suavemente
Ernesto: As far as Mexican music goes, my point of entry has generally been through the context of my family. They’re the ones who introduced me to José Alfredo Jimenez, the legendary composer of ranchera music, whose “Best 100 Songs” compilation still punctuates my moments of homesickness.
Caption: José Alfredo Jimenez, as statue and as man.
Ernesto: Other people in my family dismiss José Alfredo as ancient, too unrefined a vocalist to listen to these days, because the newer generations of vocalists are so much more pleasant. Those “newer” generations of performers (though not so new anymore) form the canon of songs heard at typical Mexican parties, from the full-family quinceañeras to the six-person dances at New Year’s until dawn. Whether the songs are Mexican or not, they’re the expected play list that you can’t leave the party without having re-lived (and re-danced).
Los Pakines perform El Venado, which comes with its own deer-antler imitation dance during the chorus.
Ernesto: For me, this trip begins with my nostalgic connection to the image of my grandparents’ generation, as well as with my fragile relationship to family dance parties, where I was dismissed from the iPod station for playing one too many unrecognized remixes.
Sara: It’s these points of transit and intersection that we hope to explore through our sets, events, and now, travels.
Flyer for our party on Friday, June 15, alongside Polka Madre.
Ernesto: Our Friday night party will be held at the Salón Bombay, a former cabaret (with its share of disrepute) intent on re-shaping its image. Hearing my family’s shocked reaction to the venue – since they’d heard plenty about it through the years – I felt myself silently defending the salón. My perspective as a DJ has found me prioritizing just that: re-shaping images, broadening cultural understandings, allowing for New to take the place of Old. From what I’d been hearing about the contemporary music scene in Mexico City, I was ready to investigate how people have approached these priorities here.
Sara: We find ourselves now in Mexico City for nine days, ready with our DJ gear, cameras and a field recorder with our eyes wide open. We’ll document music in context, and also the sounds and images that navigate us through the city’s steady hum of possibility.