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Reviving Eddie: Puerto Rico is Retro Cool

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Reviving Eddie: Puerto Rico is Retro-Cool

As tropical kitsch delivers a come-back through local low-brow art and the “Caribbean indie” movement becomes the new thing, the cultural environment in Puerto Rico is being transformed .Crudo presents “Reviving Eddie: Puerto Rico is Retro Cool”, a series of articles dedicated to this cultural trend that is taking place in the heat of Puerto Rico’s youth culture. Grab your bodysuits, track-pants, and jíbaro hats; “criollo cool” is happening.

Part I: The retro style of “criollo cool”

The “retro boom” has revamped the fixation of the Caribbean flavor in Puerto Rico’s youth subcultures. The latino indie scene of Generation Y is all about experimental music and art glazed with the nostalgia of the 70s and 80s, salsa and chinchorreo. Names of salsa singers like Eddie Santiago, Willie Colón, Hector Lavoe, and La Fania have started to resonate once more while Iris Chacón, Papo Swing, and other Puerto Rican pop culture icons have become cultural memes in the digital era.

In the 90s and early 2000s, Generation Y in Puerto Rico became Americanized and grew stale toward demonstrating a regard to national identity.  Today, we face a sort of revival; Criollismo has become hip.  Several social conditions have empowered this emergence of the “cool criollo”. For starters, it reflects a reaction to the present administration’s push for statehood and Americanization. A government with a negative public image is bound to inspire its people to rebel and Generation Y has a bachelor’s degree in rebellion. The stronghold in favor of student rights has certainly played a role as well.

Another element is a pronounced and more urgent push toward the search for a national identity in times of economic transition. Our generation of career “floaters”, cruises around the social ambience searching for their roles and seek to build upon where the previous establishments have decayed. The age of nine to five jobs is slowly fading while a population of creative professionals has taken the jump into the country’s economic arena. The regent generation writes, films, narrates, composes, performs, experiments, dances, and designs with a criollo flair.

The rummage for identity takes us back to our childhood experiences in a sort of flashback regression. Visions of retro video games cloud the artsy scene, memories of anime movies on channel 6 populate our conversations as we turn back to our parents’ passion for salsa music and the nostalgia of “chinchorros”, “velloneras”, and cheap rum. These have all become a statement of identity turned into hipster lifestyle. The disco era’s electronic beats influence the new experimental sounds of the music scene, exorbitant space fashion becomes the uniform of pop stars, and each day we see more of the artsy, bohemian types in vintage clothes and large glasses smoking cigarettes outside culturally-hip pubs.

Considering the hipster movement in New York and the increase in the amount of local bands and artists that are in constant move between San Juan and New York, there is a high possibility that a sort of cultural osmosis occurred between both cities. However, it seems that the “Caribbean indie” crowd stationed in Puerto Rico has something to offer to the island’s cultural environment and has created many platforms of artistic expression DIY style. We are witnesses of a booming experimental music scene, a voracious interest in film that has driven people to take up their own video productions, an increase in interest toward contemporary art, a growing population of creative professionals and business owners, and the birth of a large network of media dedicated to counterculture. The new creative wave is transforming the arena in Puerto Rico and the changes are being felt.



Papo Swing in action:

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Read the rest of the “Reviving Eddie: Puerto Rico is Retro Cool” series:

Part 2: Erotic Salsa Days: The Eddie Way

Part 3: The Iris Chacón Show

Part 4: The Golden Era of Television in Puerto Rico

About Sheyla Rivera

Sheyla Rivera has written 36 post in this blog.

Escritora, músico y gestora cultural. Nació en Puerto Rico en la década de los 80s, entre el campo y la urbe. Completó un bachillerato doble en Psicología y Sociología en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, recinto de Río Piedras, y cursó la maestría en Medios y Cultura Contemporánea de la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. Se destaca en el manejo de organizaciones artísticas sin fines de lucro, cultura visual japonesa, estudios de género y teoría cultural.

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  1. Lotto Spiele says:

    Many thanks to your blog write-up.Definitely looking towards reading more. Am going to read on…

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