Tambien Bailamos en el norte: sonidero transnational, lives, and Mexican migrants in the Midwest

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Tambien Bailamos en el norte: sonidero transnational, lives, and Mexican migrants in the Midwest

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


The United States of America holds a legacy of xenophobic attitudes towards Mexican immigrants dating back to the massive repatriations of the 1930s. In response to anti-immigrant actions, Mexican immigrants have often turned to popular culture to document racial violence and labor exploitation. Currently, popular music serves as a means for Mexican immigrants to proclaim a cultural presence in the United States. <italic>Tambien Bailamos en el Norte</italic> is an interdisciplinary study incorporating ethnography and lyric analysis to examine the intersections between Mexican immigration to the Chicagoland area and the popular social dances known as <italic>sonidero</italic>. Sonidero dances consist of a Mexican <italic>Sonido</italic> (DJesque performer) with enormous sound systems playing popular <italic>música tropical</italic> such as cumbia and salsa for large crowds. Sonidero was born in the urban Mexico City barrios during the late nineteen-fifties when Mexican <italic>Sonidos</italic> used humble sound systems and Colombian cumbia records to host street <italic>bailes</italic> (dances). The pioneer sonidos of Mexico City provided Latin American rhythms to working-class residents originally restricted to elite Mexican socialites. The <italic>Sonido</italic> eventually incorporated <italic>saludos</italic> (shout-outs) delivered concurrently with the music. Sonidero's popularity expanded to the Mexican immigrant communities of the Chicagoland area and the rest of the U.S., due to accelerated waves of immigration during the 1990s and 2000s. This dissertation argues that sonidero enthusiasts engage in a unique <italic>Mexicanidad</italic> fusing Mexican nationalism with adopted Latin American cultural codes to create transnational lives in the Chicagoland area. Chicagoland sonidero enthusiasts challenge how scholars study popular music in U.S. Mexican immigrant communities because the <italic>Mexicanidad</italic> invoked in sonidero, conflicts with the long-standing musical traditions of rural northern Mexican <italic>corridos</italic>. I use this unique expression of <italic>Mexicanidad</italic> found in sonidero spaces and in the lives of my research subjects to theorize new ways of studying community formation, transnationalism, cultural citizenship, political economy, and mass communications among recently-arrived Mexican immigrants. In doing so, the participants of my dissertation demonstrate how Mexican immigrants cross cultural borders as well as geographical ones by forging transnational lives, linking Mexico City with the Chicagoland area.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2014. Major: American studies. Advisors: M. Bianet Castellanos, Roderick Ferguson. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 158 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Aguilar, Rodolfo. (2014). Tambien Bailamos en el norte: sonidero transnational, lives, and Mexican migrants in the Midwest. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/164675.

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.