Mariachi By The Sea While Dancing With Butterflies: It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than That

by Gil Sperry on October 24, 2010

in Mariachi

Rosarito Beach International Mariachi Festival

Most of the participants and audience members at The 1st Annual Rosarito Beach International Mariachi & Folklorico Festival, who started off the first weekend of October’s festivities cheering for the members of their respective country’s teams, had no argument about one central issue. They all agreed that the natural setting for this inaugural event was the most beautiful they had ever seen.

The gestation period leading to its birth was nearly a year. Last October (2009), an American expatriate author was urged by his friend, Enrique Villalvazo, to attend the primera piedra (ground breaking) of the Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito Beach. Enrique serves as the Secretary for the national organization, The Boys and Girls Club of Mexico. While attending the festivities, the local club’s President, a world-class athlete, asked the writer what were the subjects for his books. When she found out that they were mariachi and futbol (soccer), she asked him to develop a plan using his talents to help raise funds for the construction and subsequent operation of the facility which would augment the local public school system’s efforts to educate the at-risk children of the area.

Rosarito Beach Mariachi Festival

Genesis Codina

As he searched for a key to unlock the hearts…and wallets…of the possible peso-and-dollar donors of both countries, he decided that the mechanism of competition, about to spring full-blown into everybody’s consciousness with the start of Copa de Mundial ( Soccer’s World Cup), was a perfect fit.  TEAM MEXICO vs TEAM USA in both the host country’s music and dance would provide the framework: the venue would be the iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel; the national holiday to be celebrated, the bi-centennial of Mexico’s independence. The project received a huge boost when His Honor, The Mayor of Rosarito, Senor Hugo Torres, was successful in gaining support from agencies of the Municipal, State, and National governments to assist in every way.

Gil Sperry and Rosy Torres wanted only the finest competitors…and that’s what they ultimately got. Since Tucson, Arizona is considered the epicenter of mariachi and baile folklorico north-of-the-border, it was only natural that three of TEAM USA’s representatives would reside there.

On October 1st, Ballet Folklorico Tapatio, Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, and Mariachi Sonido de Mexico headed west for the adjudicated competencias to begin the following day and conclude on October 3rd; they were book-ended around a Saturday evening, October 2nd, Espectacular concert headlined by the Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea. The Divas even used Tesoro’s trio of young trumpeters to help with playing Rosy’s requested favorite, “El Nino Perdido” (‘The Lost Child’). The other professional entertainers who performed throughout the evening are all world-class talents in their own right: Maya, Timoteo-El Charro Negro, Olga Flores and Friends; Ballet Folklorico Ixtlazihuatl, Genesis, and Beto Jimenez (the Grammy Award-winning Musical Director of The Divas). You can catch a bit of the sights and sounds of the action by clicking onto the video footage captured by Rosarito’s local television station:   Annual Rosarito Beach International Mariachi & Folklorico Festival

The Divas, on stage in concert

When all of the dust had settled, Tucson’s contingent had emerged with two 1st place awards (Tapatio and Tesoro) and a 2nd (Sonido) which included substantial cash and international bragging rights. In fact, all of the competitors, musicians and dancers alike, hailing from the other diverse locations…Anaheim, Buena Park, Calexico, Chula Vista, Northridge, and Sweetwater, CA as well as Ensenada, Mexicali, Rosarito, and Tijuana, MX… were truly amazing. Performing on the proscenium perched above the Pacific’s blue breakers must have been distracting for them, as the view from up there was simply astounding, but each group gave the performance of their lives; the overflow crowds (even the bleachers were full) showed their appreciation with thunderous applause. The judges had perhaps the most difficult task of the event in choosing the winners.

Dancing With Butterflies’ is the title of the new highly-acclaimed novel following the private lives of four members of a folklorico group. Its award-winning author, Reyna Grande, was one of the eminently qualified judges for the dance competition and for those in attendance who saw the elegant movements of the young ladies in their colorful finery , gracefully accompanied by their powerful male partners , the title’s description was not only evocative…it was spot-on! The regional music of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Colima, Costa Nayarit, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz has never been interpreted with more pasion y amor!

Was the ocean-front setting to the liking of our visiting talent? Genaro Rascon, Jr., a mariachi competitor from Tucson, AZ, offered this commentary: “The Rosarito Festival was awesome! All I kept hearing from the different musicians and dancers is that we wish it were longer. It needs to be an Encuentro like Guadalajara—a week-long event with workshops, too.”

In concert

Ed Marsh, an aficionado from Escondido, CA added this coda: “I applauded ‘til my hands were numb. What a fabulous Espectacular! What a hard fought Competencia! We couldn’t have asked for more.”

It certainly appears as though Playas de Rosarito has all the necessities for growing its annual event into a close relative of the world famous Tucson International Mariachi Conference, about to celebrate its 29th anniversary.

But the competition between TEAM MEXICO and TEAM USA is what sets Rosarito’s event apart from all others. This unique feature will continue to be a huge attraction for the mariachi and folklorico from all regions of both countries (and their fans). Planning has already begun for the eagerly awaited 2nd Annual Rosarito Beach International Mariachi & Folklorico Festival in 2011. It will be bigger and better…and continue to benefit The Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito.

Photos by: Samuel Paredes Valdespino and Michelle Hinojo

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