Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2018 in Los Angeles & Surrounding Areas

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s my roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like my first guide, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. Events below are ALL AGES and FREE, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2016 in Los Angeles

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s our roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like last year, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015 in LA and a word about Cultural Appropriation

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by Tom Nguyen

Dia de los Muertos is upon us as the weather in LA finally starts to feel a little bit like Fall! As I repeat from last year’s post, as the holiday gains mainstream popularity, cultural appropriation seems inevitable as more and more people “discover” the holiday. I consider myself part of that problem since I myself was discovering Dia de los Muertos as a more culturally deep alternative to commercialized Halloween. As a person of Asian descent who’s called out racist stereotyping in other costumes and cultural events around LA, I am trying to educate myself where the line is between cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation when it comes to this tradition as well.

So please know that I publish this list of Dia de los Muertos events in support and respect of the communities, the artists, the musicians, the cultural organizations and the small businesses, who work so hard to preserve and celebrate the roots and traditions of this important time of year. For people new to this holiday, please ask this question yourself and don’t be afraid to ask people in the community: how do I participate in this holiday in a respectful manner?

The first step to genuine cultural appreciation is to educate yourself on the tradition’s history and significance to the communities where it originates. Get to know the community and issues that affect people in it, beyond just donning face paint for your entertainment one day a year. If I can extrapolate further, don’t just enjoy black traditions of music and dance and not care about #BlackLivesMatter. Don’t just enjoy the great LA street food and not care about poverty, lack of opportunity and criminalization of undocumented immigrants. Don’t just wear a coolie hat in Chinatown and not care about why there’s a Chinatown in the first place. So please keep this in mind and I hope to see you at one of these great Dia de los Muertos events!

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. (Click on each event to jump to more information and scroll down for a list you can print):

Sat, October 17

Fri, October 23

Sat, October 24

Sun, October 25

Mon, October 26 – Fri, October 30

Thu, October 29

Fri, October 30

Sat, October 31

Sun, November 1

Mon, November 2

Wed, November 4

Fri, November 6

Sat, November 7

Sun, November 8

EnClave LA guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015

Floricanto Center and Danza Floricanto/USA: Bringing Together East Los Angeles’ Artistic Communities

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by Katie J

Under bright strings of papel picado and colorful twinkling lights, an eager crowd mills about in the lobby of The Floricanto Center for the Performing Arts. The Center’s director, Gema Sandoval, softly glides through the crowd, smiling and welcoming the chipper guests. A warm and motherly soul, Gema has a history of bringing together families, artists, and diverse communities in the Los Angeles area. Tonight she has invited everyone for the 13th annual Fiesta del Dia de los Muertos performance, put on by her floricanto company. While the dancers prepare themselves in the dressing room, Mr. Sandoval ushers guests to their seats in the Center’s intimate theater space. The audience settles in, their excited chatter dimming with the lights, as Gema takes the stage to introduce the dancers and the company’s history.

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Gema and her husband, Frank Sandoval, are founding members of Danza Floricanto/USA, the oldest existing professional Mexican folk dance troupe in Southern California. “We started as an affirmation group,” Gema fondly recalls, “until we realized we were artists!” She chuckles to herself as she says this, and one can’t help but break into a smile with her. A lifelong educator, Gema has a gentle guiding spirit. She is a smaller woman with a calm demeanor, but within minutes of speaking to her, her matriarchal strength is obvious. Equally apparent is her deep love and respect for the art of dance, particularly folklorico (a collective term for traditional Latin American dances that emphasize local folk culture).

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Hollywood Forever’s Day of the Dead Quinceañera


by Katie J

Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s fifteenth annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration touted itself “the largest Day of the Dead gathering in the country,” and judging by the size of the crowd it drew, that may very well be true. Hundreds and hundreds of souls poured in through the cemetery’s gates, under the giant arch of marigolds and beckoning skeletons. Upon entrance, the revelers were greeted to a truly otherworldly scene: the dark grounds were lit up with strings of multicolored lights from above, the graves and altars were lit from spotlights below, and candlelight danced all around. The rows of intricately decorated altars, each different in construction and tone from the next, lined the walkways and enveloped visitors in the smell of incense.

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Completing the lively transformation was the crowd itself- calacas (skeletons) wandered the paths, costumed ghouls and little ghosts flitted about, and Aztec ritual troupes in full traditional garb drummed and danced along the roads. On this night, the cemetery was exceptionally lively!

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Forget Halloween…Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2014 in LA & SoCal!

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by Tom Nguyen

October means a popular holiday is creeping up fast: the one time of the year the living and the dead mingle, and children and adults alike dress up. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m referring to the culturally rich celebrations of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and there is no shortage of where to celebrate in our beautifully diverse Los Angeles and nearby areas! Especially with Halloween Oct. 31 falling on Friday, there are going to be multiple opportunities to celebrate Day of the Dead on both Saturday Nov. 1 and Sunday Nov. 2, as well as the weekends before and after!

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Beware El Cucui in El Haru Kuroi’s new Video!

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What do you get when you mix Dia de los Muertos, Latin folklore themed Papier-mâché masks and the back alleys of East LA? An otherworldly, dark and dreamy new video by LA band El-Haru Kuroi that is every bit as psychedelic as their music, which they describe as “East Los Angeles Nuevo Tropicália”. The trio, consisting of percussionist Chief D. Rodz (Dominique Rodriguez), vocalist/guitarist Capitan E.O. (Eddika Organista) and bassist/cellist M.A. Ibarra, have been a favorite of mine for years and are some of the most creative, hard-working musicians I know. In fact, this video has been a labor of love some 5 years in the making.

I had a chance to chat with the Chief about the making of the video:

Who made the costumes and where was it shot? How long did it take in total? From the costume making to the filming?

Me and Eddika worked on the majority of masks. It was filmed in different locations throughout Boyle Heights and City Terrace. A lot of people helped me out. Seriously. 5 years in the making….but all shot over 3 days in the last 5 months.

Who came up with the idea?

Well I mostly had the concept, but we all worked on it. I did direct it. It pretty much took 5 years. We had made a bunch of masks, had a few Papier-mâchée, BBQ’s where friends made mask frames, and did some Papier-mâché. We used the masks when those were done at Self Help Graphics, for a Dia De Los Muertos celebration. We had members of Killsonic, in which we were a part of, come and join us to play El Cucui with us, with either a mask or face paint. I think there is a YouTube of that somewhere. Then we became busy and focused on other things and just pushed the video aside for a while.

Masks that were made either suffered destruction or began to deteriorate. I started the process again 2 years ago making more masks and repairing some. Then again was busy.

Wow that’s a true labor of love!

It wasn’t until the Cucui mask really started to go that I really wanted to do it again.

We came up on an opportunity to film in an old boiler room, which was when we shifted this video into gear.

Yes, a Labour of Love!

I used old LA Weekly’s as the paper that I had gotten at my old job. I would take them out of the recycling a couple at a time. It was crazy doing this last batch of masks because some of the weekly’s were from 2008. It was like a collage of old events, movies, bands etc…

Cool. The last video I remember of EHK is the Dia de los Muertos one…

Yea that was the first one we did. But second to be thought of.

So you were all part of Killsonic before? And whens ur next show?

Yea I was in the original band and the large ensemble but left 3 or 4 years ago now.

We play tomorrow [Friday, May 9] at Record Surplus In Santa Monica. 8pm. Free!

*By the way, El Cucui, Cucuy or Cuco are many names of a mythical monster or bogeyman found in many countries’ folklore, known for taking naughty children — so be good out there, kids. 😉