La Historia de Los Vestidos
Folklorico is a traditional dance genre within Latin-America which generally refers to folk dances with specific traditional dress and musical rhythms. Although traces to this estilo de baile can be found all throughout Latin-America; the regions we would like to pay homage to for popularizing this dance style include Campeche, Sinaloa, Baja California, Colima, Tamaulipas, and Jalisco. Each region has its own historical personalization of the genre which makes a distinct and unique impression to their prospective interpretations to the dance. Whether it be Indigenous, Afrolatino, or central European roots it draws from, the vibrant colors of the elaborate threading or dress beading, each region makes this generalized dance style all the more diverse. Baile folklorico is more than a dance. It is an identity.
When I was in elementary school, I remember mi familia y yo would participate in international nights. Every year, mi mami would clopper to reach for the huge box in my sister’s closet, just filled with the traditional flowing skirts and tops from Venezuela for us to wear for the night; to truly represent our home, Venezuela. I remember detesting getting in the floral garments, I really didn’t understand that it was part of nuestra historia. As a 6 year old kid and younger, all I knew was that I was being told to wear something a lot fancier and itchier than my daily school shorts, jeans and t-shirts. It didn’t feel like me. But I would wear it and we would bring our big beautiful flag, arepas, sometimes tequeños, books and little flyers about home.
Flash forward, I’m 20 years old. I’ve become more comfortable with my spanish, am involved in Latino clubs and extracurriculars both in and out of my college life. I’ve grown to be proud of my Venezuelan roots. This summer, I found myself thinking back to those vestidos, skirts and tops. Something in me just clicked and I have been yearning to express mi cultura by means of fashion. So, this summer when the lovely woman I was staying with who is essentially a second mother to me, offered to buy me un vestido in Olde Town, I was eternally grateful and excited. It has become one of my most adored pieces in my closet.
I am convinced that every single one of us has been put in baile folklorico at some point in our lives. I was actually in high school when I had my experience with learning the traditional baile folklorico in our dance troupe from church. Learning the dances was so fun and unique for us because it was not something that was part of our identities growing up. We grew up listening to rancheras and cumbias as any Chicano family did, but we did not learn much about our family history until college. My family is from the north eastern region of Mexico in the town of Muzquiz, Coahuila. Their traditional folkloric dresses are very cheerful and colorful. You will find flowers and other adornments as well as simple stripes that symbolize the region. For me, the symbolism of baile folklorico is important to celebrate that its people were fighting for their culture despite the conquista. Our people preserved their soul through the dance and movements that