Journey to Los Angeles
In the early 1960s the “Eastside Sound” referred to the way Mexican American teenagers in East L.A. performed Latino rhythm and blues. To this day, Chicano and Chicana musicians claim the “Eastside” as an influence as they transform the groove with a global twist.
Almost half of Los Angeles County’s 11 million residents are Latino. In contrast to New York City, though, where Latinos are concentrated in certain neighborhoods, Mexican American communities are dispersed throughout the sprawling Southland region. Even in the 1960s not all bands making the Eastside sound were from East L.A. Young Mexican Americans were open to incorporating the diverse sounds they heard on the radio as they drove across the expansive boulevards and freeways that connect Mexican American barrios.
Whittier Boulevard in East L.A., 1960s:
Teenage Eastside bands played four dances a night. Typical tours took bands like The Romancers to St. Alphonsus Church, Big Union Hall, the Montebello Ballroom and the Paramount Ballroom, all within a 10-mile radius. East L.A. mothers often drove teenage bands to these "distant" gigs.
Club Vex, East L.A., 1980s:
Serving as a rare cross-cultural meeting point for teenagers, Eastside punk Club Vex fliers included maps showing how to access its location via major freeways from the north, south, east and west.
6th Street Bridge connects the Eastside to downtown, 1990s:
Youth across greater Los Angeles were attracted to downtown’s Peace and Justice Center. The sound of multi-racial Eastside bands like Ozomatli crystallized in this musical workshop, rehearsal and performance space.
South Central L.A., 2000s:
Banda rap-music that mixes hip-hop and Banda Sinaloense—reflects the neighborhood’s new mix of African American and Mexican immigrant residents.