Reviving the Beat of the Barrio
In 1940s East L.A., Mexican-Americans donned zoot suits and dodged violence as they pioneered a little-known musical genre. Today, their grandchildren are bringing pachuco back to life.
Photos by Zack Herrera
The tiny railroad-style bar sits on the edge of Mariachi Plaza, a small square decorated with colorful murals of Ranchera singers in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angelese. Sombrero-clad mariachis mill about, searching for their next quinceañera gig. A bouncer in a feather-topped fedora opens the heavy black door of Eastside Luv to reveal a swing dance time machine, barrio-style.
Inside, handsome Latino men in zoot suits chat up pencil-skirted beauties with flower-laden pompadours. Below the stage, bartenders in a subterranean cave serve up icy micheladas, a fizzy Bloody Mary made with Clamato, hot sauce, lime juice and Tecate beer. Glow-in-the-dark Day of the Dead portraits of classic Hollywood celebs like Marilyn Monroe grace the walls.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Narratively to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.