By Daniel Romo
They could pass for living. Their tatted, hickied skin still bronzed from
SoCal sun that bullied their abuelos in strawberry fields forty years ago.
Their mascara still harshly etched around their eyes in an extra bold font.
Their hair still all, Aquanety. But you knew they were dead. Their Cortez
feet combined with Ay dios mio hips in painted-on cheap denim, lacked
the saunter that bestowed them teenage motherhood on multiple occasions.
Shy Girl became extra introverted. Dimplez’s cheeks were bloated. Gigglez
played the straight man. They simply wandered through the aisles like
gangsta’fied ghosts, past the Asian vendors who knew just enough Spanish
to communicate with their rough-and-tumble clientele: muy barato (very
cheap), dos para uno (two for one), es oro real (That’s real gold). It was an
epidemic of inked teardrop proportions. They were zombie Cholas at the
Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet! But when the cries of Lowrider oldies faded
away, the pulsing dance beat that reeked of ‘85 brought them back to life,
and Debbie Deb was in club form all the way live as if to say, “Free our
heinas.” The Cholas’ Latina blood boiled to a rhythmic fervor, and their
jalapeno souls grooved to the tune of— When I hear music, it makes me
dance/You got the music, here’s my chance. One by one the Cholas emerged
from their hazes, from behind Dickies displays, oversized Pro Club tees, and
jumbo bags of chicharrones. Mi vida loca met Thriller, an assembly line of
various barrios coming together in the name a good party. The Cholas danced,
danced, danced—Chicana bodies swaying back and forth cutting through the
air like hidden razorblades. The patrons froze, elotes (corn-on-a-stick) in hand
mesmerized by the scene out of a modern day Diego Rivera painting. The
display lasted exactly seven minutes and thirteen seconds (because it was the
extended remix version). After that, the Cholas disappeared. No one knows
where to. But on that Sunday in June, while most of L.A. was watching the
Lakers beat up on the Celtics, the city of Santa Fe Springs celebrated an event
bigger than any championship series. The Cholas savored every synthesized
note like the last bites of the chimichanga plate at Hector’s. Their heavy pencil-
outlined lips smiling like homegirly clowns… It was beautiful, I tell ya’.