Slow and Low: Keeping the Lowrider Tradition Alive
Many believe lowriders cruised their way to Los Angeles from El Paso, Texas, and still others will tell you they came from the other side of the Mexican border in Cuidad Juarez, but nobody can deny that lowrider culture literally reached new heights thanks to Los Angeles and, well, hydraulics. In fact, you can't tell the story of transportation in the City of Angels without talking about lowriders.
You see, a lowrider isn't just a car, and they're not merely for driving from point A to point B. They also represent the social, political, and artistic struggles and triumphs of Chicano culture.
Lowriders are one element of "La Pachucada," the Pachuco style born in El Paso, Texas, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Mexican actor German Valdes brought the zoot suits pachucos wore to the silver screen, and the Godfather of Chicano Music, Lalo Guerrero, sang about the style on many of his songs. Mexican-American pachucos took great pride in their appearance, so naturally that meant their cars had to be "reet complete" (cool) as well.
I first experienced lowriders as a kid watching the movie Born in East L.A. Watching a car bounce up and down the way it did was unbelievable to me. I mean, cars weren’t supposed to do that. As I grew up in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles and went on to junior and senior high school, lowrider sightings were common. You’d see them cruising around school every day as the 3 o'clock bell rang and school was let out.
Now that I'm an adult, I go out and look for lowriders. Though I don't own a lowrider of my own, I hit every car show I can. I appreciate their beauty, their owner's creativity, and overall need to be original or have something all their own—just like we try to be as individuals. About a year and a half ago, I began snapping pictures of lowriders with my phone, editing them, and sharing them with friends and family.