A “pachanga” is a Latin-American dance of Cuban origin. A South Texas “pachanga” is a barbecue/party, often one where politics is discussed. The term “pachanga politics” refers to the many political pachangas of South Texas.
Margaret E. Dorsey’s book Pachangas: Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing (2006) is the first full treatment of this subject.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
A type of Latin-American dance of Cuban origin, containing elements of the conga and merengue and other originally African characteristics; (a piece of) music for this dance or in its rhythm, performed by a charanga band.
1956 M. W. STEARNS Story of Jazz xix. 245 Carmen Miranda and the Brazilian samba clicked in 1946, and the Cha Cha Cha and Pachanga followed in the ‘fifties.
1971 K. AWOONOR This Earth, my Brother ix. 114 Lovers are doing the pachanga in the joyful way in which Zeke said Africans dance. Natural sense of rhythm. \
1988 P. MANUEL Pop. Musics Non-Western World (1990) ii. 31 Cuban dance music, while having the son as its backbone, comprises several other important genres, especially the guaracha, bolero, chachachá, mambo, and more ephemeral styles such as the pachanga.
1994 P. HAMILL Drinking Life V. iv. 231 She’d been born in Puerto Rico..spoke perfect English, and could dance the pachanga.
Houston (TX) Chronicle
20 October 1985, Houston (TX) Chronicle, section 1, pg. 38:
Informant shunned code of silence on drugs in Starr County
By NICHOLAS C. CHRISS
Some years ago, said a veteran federal agent here, it was a disgrace when a member of a Mexican-American family was sentenced to prison. “Now they have ‘pachangas’ (parties) when they leave for prison, and ‘pachangas’ when they get back,” he said.
Houston (TX) Chronicle
18 February 1990, Houston (TX) Chronicle, State section, pg. 1:
BUYING VOTES ON THE BORDER/A political tradition of beer, barbecues
By JAMES PINKERTON
BROWNSVILE - Justice of the Peace Ed Sarabia greeted each of his guests with a warm handshake - some got an “abrazo,” an embrace - as they walked into the Resaca Club on Thursday evening.
Inside, free liquor flowed, and three other political candidates slowly made their way around the room, stooping at each chair along the wall to thrust a card into outstretched hands.
Three musicians in gray sharkskin suits played Mexican ballads while older couples danced, but Sarabia saved the best for last: a large Mariachi band striding into the meeting room with brass section blaring.
The gathering of Sarabia supporters in Brownsville was typical of the dozens of “pachangas -” border parlance for political receptions - taking place each week in the small towns of the Rio Grande Valley as the March 13 primaries approach.
Political campaigning in South Texas is as unique and colorful as the region itself, and here the emphasis is on personal contact between candidate and voter.
The technological advances in campaigning - phone banks, direct mailing, creating an image through television advertising - have not been able to replace the style.
Indeed, the reason time-honored “pachangas” are such a crucial ingredient of South Texas political recipes is they allow the one-on-one contact demanded by voters.
Elaborate political barbecues held on ranches, with hundreds of pounds of beef turning on a spit and kegs of chilled beer, are still held but smaller events like Sarabia’s are more common.
Uribe, an attorney, says “pachangas” are potentially dangerous to a campaign because of fights fueled by massive consumption of liquor.
“In these days of rapid communication, an incident at a “pachanga” will be rapidly reported by the electronic media and then the print media will do a story,” Uribe says.
“Overconsumption of alcohol at political and other social gathering is something that people have been very concerned about.’ Uribe adds that “pachangas” tend to attract the same group of political activists and do little to sway the undecided voters.
His opponent, Brownsville businessman Henry Sanchez, said modern-day “pachangas” are much different than those in previous times, when horse races and gambling highlighted the events.
“The “pachanga” used to be the old-fashioned political barbecue, but they’ve changed. Now they’re more family oriented,” said Sanchez, who hosted a “pachanga” last Sunday in the Garden Park area, one of Brownsville’s poorest.
Sanchez said attendees consumed 1,500 plates of barbecue and 2,000 soft drinks. Beer was sold by a veterans group.
December 1994, Texas Monthly:
They were big-time contributors who often threw pachangas, or fundraising parties, for the Hidalgo County sheriff.
Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados:
Class and Culture on the South Texas Border
by Chad Richardson
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
Also, many are invited to attend Hispanic social events such as weddings, quinceaneras (coming-out parties for fifteen-year-old girls), and pachangas (barbecue parties).
Google Groups: alt. religion.christian.east.orthodox
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 01:24:08 GMT
Local: Thurs, Nov 16 2000 8:24 pm
Subject: Re: Katherine Harris!
It’s called patronage. Pachanga politics.
Bibliography - Joe Nick Patoski
50 Things Every Texan Should Do
Have you gotten lost in the Big Thicket? Attended a South Texas pachanga? [Texas Monthly, March 2001]
November 2001, Texas Monthly:
He emceed the pachangas, where people consumed beer and barbecue and assessed the candidates of the day.
Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
San Francisco, CA; Chronicle Books
“Pachanga” is a South Texas slang term for an outdoor gathering that includes barbecue, music, and comraderie. At election time, politicians hold pachangas to win votes.
I Would Rather Sleep in Texas:
A History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the People of the Santa Anita Land Grant
by Mary Margaret McAllen Amberson, James A. McAllen, and Margaret H. McAllen
Austin, TX: Texas State Historical Association
The Republicans also opposed the Red party’s use of barbecues, or pachangas, where they gathered voters, legal citizens or not, to cast their slate as a block.
University of Texas Press
Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing (2006)
By Margaret E. Dorsey
Table of Contents and Excerpt
“I recommend this book to students of the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican-American/U.S. Latino politics, and researchers interested in voter behavior influenced by culture, marketing, and politics. [...T]he work’s mixed-methods and complex analysis of Texans of Mexican-American heritage and Mexican American cultural and political activism adds a significant contribution to U.S.-Mexico borderland studies.”
—Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
“This book would be a valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in the dynamics of the Texas-Mexico borderlands, in the relations between individuals and corporations, or in the functionings of democracy at the grassroots level.”
—Texas Books in Review
A uniquely Tejano version of the old-fashioned political barbeque, the traditional South Texas pachanga allowed politicians to connect with voters in a relaxed setting where all could enjoy live music and abundant food and drink along with political speeches and dealmaking. Today’s pachanga still combines politics, music, and votes—along with a powerful new element. Corporate sponsorships have transformed the pachanga into a major marketing event, replete with celebrity performers and product giveaways, which can be recorded and broadcast on TV or radio to vastly increase the reach of the political—and the commercial—messages.
This book explores the growing convergence of politics, transnational marketing, and borderlands music in the South Texas pachanga. Anthropologist Margaret Dorsey has observed some one hundred pachangas and interviewed promoters, politicians, artists, and local people. She investigates how candidates and corporations market their products to Hispanic consumers, as well as how the use of traditional music for marketing is altering traditional forms such as the corrido. Her multifaceted study also shows clearly that the lines of influence run both ways—while corporate culture is transforming the traditions of the border, Tejano voters/consumers only respond to marketing appeals (whether for politicians or products) that resonate with their values and the realities of their lives. Far from being an example of how transnational marketing homogenizes culture, the pachanga demonstrates that local cultures can exert an equally strong influence on multinational corporations.
Margaret E. Dorsey is Visiting Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.
A Capitol Blog
In this part of the state, politics has historically been closely tied to a cultural event called a “pachanga.” Hence the phrase: “pachanga politics,” sometimes used pejoratively to describe an old-school type of politics.
Margaret E. Dorsey, an anthropologist from the University of Houston-Victoria, recently published a book called “Pachangas: Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing” (University of Texas Press, $21.95. In her book, Dorsey describes the old style pachanga as:
“events in which a group of men, usually spanning two or three generations, gather in the country to talk, informally organize, drink, eat, and listen to and play music.”
Without a doubt this is still a primary way for a political figure in South Texas to meet people in his community. Although in most present day pachangas, but not all, men and women are allowed to be present. The more traditional pachanga is a gathering of men or at the least there is a separation of the sexes. As a young boy I still remember my grandfather giving me a stern warning because I had wandered over into the area were women were gathering. These cultural mores were not written or regularly spoken yet everyone seems to understand them. Some pachangas I have attended still maintaining the “old ways” prohibit men from drinking in the presence of women as a measure of respect.
To those of you who live up north or in the urban areas of the state may think this cultural tradition on first blush to be primitive, in fact many aspects of the cultural event maintain and communicate old values of respect, honor and tradition. A long history strongly influenced by conservative Mexican values here in the frontier ranch country have made their mark on the pachanga. Much of these traditions have influenced and can still be seen in traditional Texan barbecues in other parts of the state.
Margaret E. Dorsey’s book is a good read on this tradition.
April 2006, Texas Monthly, “75 Things We Love About Texas”:
It’s the heart and soul of politics, South Texas–style, a combination beer bust, barbecue, dance, and political rally that gives voters ...
Thursday, July 27, 2006
BBQ Lingo: Cook Like a Man
Pachanga: South Texan term for a get-together, complete with BBQ and live music.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Barbecue and Politics, a South Texas Tradition
Was invited to the Edcouch-Elsa community, often times called the “Delta area” for a little barbecue and some politics. Before the Dallas Cowboy football game we talked politics and passed out and put up a number of 4 x 8 campaign signs to a few supporters who heard the signs were in.
A full blown ”Pachanga,” in it’s traditional sense it was not, but a pachanga’s mixture of food, politics and strategic coordination were all there. For the uninitiated an old-fashioned “pachanga” is a social gathering that traces it’s origins to a more segregated time in our history in South Texas where people:
”usually spanning two or thee generations, gather in the country to talk (politics), informally organize, drink, eat and listen to and play music.“
Today instead of music there was football and unlike social gatherings of the past (pre-1990’s) women were present. This tradition does have some connections to boss-rule and social segregation, but with the times and the involvement of younger generations things are changing. The negative connotations associated with the phrase ”pachanga politics“ comes from the excesses injected into the tradition by the lazy and greedy who saw the attendees as a means to an end rather than as individuals deserving of respect. A good read and a thorough analysis of pachangas in South Texas is made in a fine University of Texas Press book by Margaret Dorsey. It is called ”Pachangas: Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing.“ I recommend it.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Sunday, January 06, 2008 • Permalink
The word ‘Pachanga’ is an African word belonging to the Niger-Congo family of ‘dialets’ and a single related language group spread from Nigeria to South Africa.
In fact the word PaChaNga fits perfectly into the Niger-Congo system of wording, which was once the original language family of the now dried Sahara and Egypt (before the Semite invasion/occupation) as well.
In fact, the Niger-Congo-Cush family of languages are spread from East Africa to India, to South China, Philipines, Melanesia and is at the core of the Japanese language and Southern Chinese dialects.
Much of the languages of Southern India is also of Niger-Congo-Cush origins (and remember, these languages were dominant in th Sahara before the sahara dried up about 5000 to 10,000 years ago and migrations into other parts of Africa, Asia and Europe began ( see ‘A History of the African-Olmecs,” http://www.authorhouse.com
The Niger-Congo-Cush languages also spread westward from the Sahara core all the way to the Americas. In fact one South American Indian language called Chibchan is directly related to West African languages. There are many others, including some in Mexico and Central America. This phenomena as been studied and written about by scientists and linguists for decades ( such as in ‘The Tamana Phenomena,” by Dr. Horst Fedrich, Hamburg, Germany).
We know that during the slavery period—about 1500’s to 1825 (When Guerrero, who was himself Mexico’s Black/African descent President tried to do away with slavery of Africans in Mexico), at least one million Africans were slaves in Mexico, most worked in the salt mines. In fact, these descendents still live in Mexico today and they brought African languages with them that have been part of the Spanish language as spoken in places like Cuba, Mexico, and the rest of Latin America.
Added to that - Mexico still has about 1,000,000 African descent (Black people) and tens of millions of people of African origins including about 40 percent of the genetic makeup of some Mexican Indian ethnic groups.
Many have pointed out that these Mexican Indians have had African blood for thousands of years - Since Tejuti Mez - the legendary Explorer of West Africa who is said to have entered Mexico in 12 ships about 3113 B.C. ( http://originalblacksofamericabeforecolumbus.blogstream.com
So, for many words in Spanish, they are of African origins. In fact Africans ruled Spain for about 800 years and these Africans of the AlMohad Federation (Nigeria/Senegal to Morocco) were not Semitic Arabs, but West African and Magrebi Black African converts to the Arabs relgion.
Finally, the word Pachanga can easily be deciphered by anyone who understands the Niger-Congo-Cush languages.
Pa - means body, or ‘father’
Cha - means spirit, force.
Nga - means God
The word Nga is the root origins of words like ‘Niger,’ Negus, Negro, Natural, Nature, Nihan (which means Japan) Net-cher (Egyptian for ‘God.’ )
So the word ‘Pa Cha Nga’ probably means ‘The Force of God,’ or ‘The Body of God.’
Finally, remember the saying, ‘SMALL WORLD.’