Consider the possibility of a 'bucket list' in reverse, one that you created long before you were even old enough to know the meaning of the term. We're talking here about creating a wish list of firsts that you wanted to experience while you were still young enough to be able to really appreciate them. How many of you, regardless of ethnicity, would have put listening to mariachi on that agenda? C'mon, be honest, no one will know except those few who bother to pay attention to your innermost thoughts as set down in this article.
With the 4th Annual Rosarito Beach Mariachi & Folklorico Festival held earlier in October barely in our rearview mirror, several aficionados who participated in this event came forward to be interviewed. James Anderson, an expatriate living in the Mulege area of Baja California, MX plays guitar as part of a gringo group that entertains at a cantina in his neighborhood. The customers requested more mariachi songs be included in the entertainers repertoire. Jim contacted the event's organizers about the possibility of being part of the Talleres (Student Workshops). When he inquired about the age/experience requirements, he was told that they were '10 years of age and ability to read music.' His reply was "I meant the upper limits." The 67 year-old registered and told all who would listen that he had the time of his life. So did 13 year old Selah Flores, a vocalista from Tucson, AZ. Carlos and Alycia Gomez, armonia specialists from Chula Vista, CA, brought the entire family including their grand-daughter Jessa, a 10 year old baile folklorico dancer. Michelle Cormier from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, came the furthest when she traveled with her Los Castorcitos (The Little Beavers) group, her country's first youth mariachi, to this convenient south-of-both-borders destination.
What convinced so many to attend this seminal encuentro was the first appearance in Rosarito-By-The-Sea (in their fabled 116 year history) of el mejor del mundo, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, as well as the presence of arguably the best all-female mariachi in the world, the Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas. To learn from the masters of any discipline is a powerful attractant.
Before the event even began, the press was letting the world know that this was a first worth experiencing. Both Sandra Dibble of the San Diego (CA) Union Tribune, in her September 29th article titled 'Mariachi Vargas to perform in Rosarito Beach' and Ron Raposa of The Baja Times, in his October 1st article titled 'World's Best Mariachi Bands Featured at Rosarito Beach Festival This October' spread the word. And then, immediately after the event was completed, Juan Pablo Sebastian of ECOS DE ROSARITO told us in his October 11th article (in Spanish) that 'Rompe record IV Festival del Mariachi y Ballet Folklorico: Mas de 2 mil asistentes.' The front cover of the paper was equally impressive, featuring full color photographs of both Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and The Mariachi Divas under the headline "Festival del Mariachi mas importante de Mexico"...high praise indeed for the smallest of Baja California Norte's five major cities.
It is no exaggeration to say that everybody interested in the proliferation of the music that won UNESCO's Patrimony in 2011 is looking forward to what Playas de Rosarito is planning for the 5th Anniversary of its event in October 2014. If past experience is any indicator, it will be another memorable get-together; however, we're certain that everybody who was there for the 2013 iteration will always remember the first time...the first time that Vargas visited and shared the stage at the fabulous Rosarito Beach Hotel with The Mariachi Divas!