Rockabilly Festival Fuses SoCal Latino Culture and Rock ‘n’ Roll

The Latina/o Student Union hosted the 8th-annual Rockabilly Festival at Pitzer College Saturday, April 4. Adrian Pantoja, a Pitzer professor of political studies and Chicano studies who has been involved with the festival since its inception at the Claremont Colleges in 2008, explained that the event seeks to combine “rock ‘n’ roll” and “hillbilly” culture with Latino/a culture
to celebrate this lesser-known part of Southern California history on Pitzer’s campus. Rockabilly
refers to an early style of rock and roll music from the 1950s, but this
festival has become much more than just music. “The event on
the mounds is representative of Los Angeles and its cultural swirl that is
strongly influenced by the Latino presence,” Pantoja said. The event
includes a variety of live music, car exhibitions, vendors and art. Pantoja is
proud that the event exists at Pitzer and said that the Rockabilly Festival would not be possible without the support of the Latino Student Union (LSU), peer groups at the 5Cs and students: “Pitzer is
the type of place that encourages people to take risks [and] to develop unique
cutting-edge events that do not exist elsewhere.” While many
elements have stayed the same, much has changed since the first festival in
2008. Now, Latino and non-Latino students plan a large part of the event. Every
year, students in LSU use the event to raise money for social causes. This year,
the funds were given to students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
status for college expenses. Awareness of
Rockabilly has even spread beyond the Claremont Colleges, and Pantoja said that he has run into
people several times off campus wearing Pitzer Rockabilly t-shirts. “The goal was to
bring, for a few hours on a single weekend, the surrounding community to
Pitzer,” Pantoja said.

This article was revised on April 16, 2015. It initially misspelled the first instance of Adrian Pantoja’s name as “Pantojais.”

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