RAISING THEIR VOICES
There's nothing more American than cultural appropriation of holidays. This is certainly the case with Cinco de Mayo. Often mistaken for Mexico's Independence Day (which is actually on September 16), the celebration of the Mexican army's defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla is barely acknowledged in most parts of Mexico, but in the United States, well, it's a great excuse to drink tequila shots all day.
That's what makes Voices for Change such a cool alternative to the usual festivities that come with Cinco de Mayo. Held on Thursday, May 5, (obvs) at 6:30 p.m. at San Diego City College (1313 Park Blvd., Building M-200), the free event will feature a spoken-word showcase and art show from City College students on the topics of identity, social justice, culture and diversity. What's more, Chicana feminist and award-winning slam poet Mercedez Holtry will also be on hand for a reading.
"When we were planning the event, it really came down to the days that Mercedez was available to perform," says Voices organizer and Spit Journal editor Karla Cordero. "When we decided on May 5, we saw it was destiny to have her perform that day. She's a young poet talking about issues of identity and what it means to be mestiza, a mix of identities within the Latino culture. I thought what better fit than for people to come and listen to her talk about these issues while outside, you have people appropriating the holiday."
Patrons will have a half-hour to check out the art and photography (there will also be snacks and a DJ set from poet Gill Sotu), with the poetry show beginning at 7 p.m. Cordero, who works as an English professor at City College, says this kind of event helps "give students voices" and the opportunity to say something "very vulnerable."
"For a lot of them, this is their first time reading and it's usually about an experience they've never shared before," Cordero says. "I always see their faces when they come off stage and they feel so fulfilled and empowered."
It says something about the local appreciation for Cajun culture that San Diego has the third largest Mardi Gras event in the world. The 15th annual Gator by the Bay Zydeco, Blues and Crawfish Festival is no exception. More than 90 musical acts, ranging in genres from Cajun to Salsa, will perform on seven stages while festivalgoers can fuel up on 10,000 pounds of crawfish or other Crescent City-based dishes like po' boys, jambalaya or beignets at the French Quarter Food Court. Get an extra dose of Louisiana culture by shopping for Mardi Gras-inspired clothing, listening to stories of the music scene's origins or watching cooking demos. The festival takes place at Spanish Landing Park (3900 N. Harbor Dr.) with varying hours Thursday, May 5 through Sunday, May 8. Ticket prices range from $20 to $200. gatorbythebay.com
SACRA/PROFANA isn't your average vocal ensemble. They blend classical choral music pieces with contemporary artists and are influenced by everything from Schoenberg to Smashing Pumpkins. Paying tribute to their roots, Local Connections is a concert series focused on artists who have ties to San Diego. From UC San Diego professors to Robert Shaw and Benjamin Britten, there will be a wide array of composers representing a variety of San Diego subcultures. The first concert is on Friday, May 6, at The Maritime Museum of San Diego (1492 N. Harbor Dr.) downtown. Up next is The ARTS (A Reason to Survive) Center (200 E. 12th St.) in Chula Vista on Saturday, May 7. The Sunday, May 15, show will take place at Oceanside Museum of Art (704 Pier View Way). All shows will begin at 7 p.m. and tickets run between $5 and $30. sacraprofana.org.