CONTACT: Marisa Cigarroa, News Service (650) 725-9750;
Casa Zapata hosts Zoot Suit Week
Casa Zapata's annual Zoot Suit Week is in full swing.
The series of events at the student residence celebrates the Zoot Suit era of the 1940s, when Chicano youth began to dress in a distinctive style that symbolized their identity as neither Mexican nor American.
The men wore oversized coats with large lapels, baggy pants that narrowed at the cuff, long watch chains that fastened at the waist and broad-rimmed hats with a large feather. The women wore short skirts and pompadours.
The distinctive style of dress was seen by many as a sign of Mexican gang intrusion on American culture. Tensions ran particularly high in Los Angeles, where fights often broke out between Chicanos and white servicemen who frequented the same dance halls. These confrontations culminated in the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.
The commemorative events at Casa Zapata began Monday with a screening of Luis Valdez's Zoot Suit, the movie version of Valdez's acclaimed Broadway play about the Sleepy Lagoon murder case of 1942. History Professor Al Camarillo gave a lecture and slide-show presentation about the Zoot Suit era on Tuesday.
Danny Valdez, star of Zoot Suit, will host "A Celebration of '40s Swing" Wednesday at 6 p.m.; students will give a live reading of Valdez's play Thursday at 8 p.m; and a swing dance workshop will be held Friday at 8 p.m. to prepare for Saturday night's Zoot Suit party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
By Marisa Cigarroa