Sunday, February 3, 2013

What To Wear? - Week 5

Hello Everyone!  Thank you for all of your support by reading my blog and sharing in my journey.  A special shout out to my new followers this week from Germany and The United Kingdom, it is nice to have you as part of my blogging history.  Who knows, perhaps I'll go on a world tour to the countries with readership after I conclude my blog.  That would be fun!  In fact, I'll promise to do it if anyone wants to fully sponsor such a thing - "The Herencia Mexicana World Tour 2014" featuring the "One Big Wedo!"  Any takers?  Shoot, I'll even settle for a national tour!  But in order to do so, I need to know what States you all are from.  So go now, yes right now, to my Facebook page, One Big Wedo, and "like" it so I know where you're all from.  Part of the enjoyment for me in this is to meet my readers.  If you don't have a Facebook, create one!  Its free and easy.  If you've already "liked" me, then just keep on reading, reading, reading!

I am getting your feedback.  Thank you.  If you're having difficulty leaving a comment on this page, you can e-mail me directly at or you can follow me on Facebook by clicking "like" on my page:  One Big Wedo (Guero).  If you've been reading from the beginning of this post, then you should have already done this!  And for those of you Twitterers out there, you can get my tweets by following me on Twitter:  Michael Smith @onebigwedo.  Hope to hear from you soon.  If you have enjoyed reading my posts, please share them with your friends and family.  I appreciate your recommendations and helping a wedo out to spread the word out there.  It has been fun for me to write them.  This week I added some new features to my blog page layout, you can now follow me via your email or on Google+.  I also added an option to translate the blog into other languages, although I'm not sure if the humor will come across.  I'm also taking a survey poll.  Just look for the new features along the top, bottom and side of the page layout.

Want to see me dance?  You can!  Just head over to YouTube and search for "Herencia Riverside."  Two videos should pop up that are on the "folkloricochannel".  Or you can try these links I have provided here: and .  The first song is called La Dificultosa and the second is called La Jesusita.  This was a performance last December at the Festival of Lights in the beautiful Mission Inn District in downtown Riverside, California.  I learned those two dances in a week!  The week before the show to be exact.  Not too shabby!  I hope you enjoy them.

This week a funny thing happened to me, which is not all that unusual.  A man ask me if my middle name was "wedo" because they call me "the wedo."  Come on people, really?  Are we just not getting it?  So now my name is Michael Wedo Smith!  My mom and pops may take issue with that because they named me Michael Dale Smith.  Regardless, I thought it was funny.  I guess it was in my destiny to entertain, better to be a folklorico dancer than a Chippen-Dale!  Trust me, no one wants to see that!  And to top it off,  a friend called me a "weeeee-doh", instead of "whedo" this week.  I thought I was the only one who had trouble saying those Spanish words.  I am frequently told, "Michael your Spanish is painful to my ears."  I'm sorry, its my Michigan accent, don't cha know?  Enough already!  Let's get going!

For Christmas 2011, Richard gave me a Chihuahua suit.  Now, up to that point, I hadn't even started learning the region of Chihuahua.  He was planting the seed.  He was tapping into my addiction of clothing and accessorizing in hopes of provoking me to keep dancing.  It was as if he was conducting some sort of great Freudian experiment to see what the wedo would do.  It worked because it motivated me to continue onward.  In those moments when I was ready to quit, all I could think of was, "what a waste of a costume, you better make this happen."  If you watch the videos that I recommended above, you will see me in that Chihuahua suit. 

In the early months of 2012, we took a trip to El Mercado in East Los Angeles to find him a new hat for Vera Cruz.  His had seen better days.  We didn't find that hat he needed, but Richard bought me a camisa guayabera, a white shirt worn for the region of Vera Cruz.  They had one that fit me!  Let's take pause here to clarify this word guayabera.  Yes, it's another Spanish word that is spelled nothing like it sounds.  I pronounce and spell it, "Why-a-vetta."  It's kind of a fun word to say.  Practice saying it, Why-A-Vetta.  No men, it's not "buy-a-vetta," it's "why-a-vetta."  No showing up in the driveway at your home with a new Corvette and telling the wife that "the wedo made you do it."  And for you fish enthusiasts, it's not "buy-a -betta" either.  Wasn't that random?  To have some fun with it, try saying, "wedos wearing white whyavettas while wowing wiggling watchers watch wonderful workmanship!" 10 times fast.  Come on, just try it!  I told you it was a fun word!

Afterwards, we headed over to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles to continue the hunt for a Vera Cruz hat.  For those of you reading that are not familiar with the Los Angeles area, Olvera Street is a historical area downtown that is rich with Mexican heritage and tourism.  It is the local Mexican mecca, complete with restaurants, shopping and an area for dance where you commonly see Folklorico and Azteca dances being performed.  There you will find El Pueblo de Los Angeles monument.  You will also find a wedo eating a hot dog and being harassed by his friends for eating a hot dog instead of some local Mexican food.  That wedo would be me.  I'm sorry, the hot dogs are delicious down town.  I'm honored they thought of me when they wrote the menu.  I just look for the Gringo Specials.  I need to focus, let's get back on track.

Not only did we find the hat for Richard, we found a hat for me and a pair of white pantalones and a nice red silk hanker chief.  I made out!  We found a black sombrero that fit my big head, so I picked that up too.  Richard was buying some fans from Spain for his lady dancers and came across two nice men's ties worn with the charro suit.  He picked those up for us as well.  It was a shopping frenzy.  I love those days.  The costumes were coming along nicely.  I got back home and bought a pair of white folklorico boots and my Vera Cruz costume was complete.  If you visit my page on Facebook, you will see a couple of photos of me in my Vera Cruz costume.   

Some time later, on a Sunday, we took another trip to downtown Los Angeles to The House of Mariachi, a local business that is well known for their excellence in quality charro suits.  Many famous musicians use them for their performing costumes.  Across the street you will find the famous Mariachi Plaza Gazebo, where local mariachis stand and wait for daily work.  I was fitted for my charro suit that day.  A couple weeks later, I went back for my final fitting and brought it home.  Check out my picture of the fitting below.  The staff there was amused with me.  A non-Spanish speaking white man that dances folklorico.  Interesting.  Good thing I had Richard there to translate and communicate for me.

A charro suit is what is worn for the region of Jalisco.  You have probably seen mariachi musicians wear them.  Jalisco is the birthplace of the mariachi music, so it makes sense.  They are tight and we get to dance in them.  Eat your heart out!  One of my favorite things to do after a performance is to go out among the audience and hand out business cards in my charro suit.  The ladies love it and always want their picture taken with the man in the fitted suit.  In Mexican culture, seeing a man in a charro suit is like seeing a man in a military uniform in American culture.  It is given respect.  The last photo below is of Richard and I at my first performance, which I will be addressing in a future blog post. 

As I have learned dances from other regions, the costume collection has grown.  They are like medals of honor, representing another dance learned from a new region that is about to go on stage.  Other times they represent hope, a goal set in anticipation of one day performing the region.  I want to collect them all and have one in every color.  I'm up to five now!

In addition to gathering my costumes, I have had the unique opportunity to travel with Richard and assist in getting the costumes for the dance group.  In Richard's group, Herencia Mexicana, the costumes are provided for the members who perform on stage.  This is a huge benefit because most groups have the students pay for their own costumes, which can get very costly.  Some of the dresses for the women can run upwards of $500 or more for just one region.  If you're dancing 3 to 5 regions in a show, well, you can do the math.  So by providing the costumes, Richard makes it possible for everyone to participate.  Richard doesn't spare any expense when it comes to the costumes.  He likes the best.  He always says, "You only have one chance to make that first impression."

There are standard generic costumes available on the market, but most of Richard's are custom made.  He has his own seamstresses.  Each region has a base costume look that is required.  Typically, most folklorico groups that custom make their costumes build upon that base and do something to make it their own signature outfit by design, all while remaining true to the region.  For example, some may use a particular type of lace or ribbon in their costume.  There is some flexibility as long as you keep within the rules of the region and don't go overboard.  No modifying a full length skirt to a mini.  That's a no no.  Groups take great pride in their signature costumes.  It give them a sense of ownership and uniqueness on the stage.  And it can lead to a lot of dance drama if a group steals another group's look or costume design. 

Richard and I have made numerous trips to L.A.'s fabric and garment district looking for that perfect material, ribbon, lace and trim for the dresses.  Then there are the hair pieces for the women.  Custom braids with ribbon and/or flowers.  Then there's the jewelry.  Lots of details and it never ends.  Thank God I'm a man!  It's not as complicated.  So there it is, What To Wear?  Well, that all depends on what region you're dancing.  Hope you enjoyed it.

In closing, anyone interested in Herencia Mexicana is encouraged to check out their Facebook page and friend request them.  Also, if you are in the Los Angeles or Inland Empire area and want to learn to dance folklorico or to book Herencia Mexicana to perform at your next event, contact Richard Solorzano at (909) 201-1957.  Later peeps, Wedo out!

Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail:
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.

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