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Tide Was Always HighThe Music of Latin America in Los Angeles$
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Josh Kun

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520294394

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520294394.001.0001

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Mexican Musical Theater and Movie Palaces in Downtown Los Angeles before 1950

Mexican Musical Theater and Movie Palaces in Downtown Los Angeles before 1950

(p.46) 1 Mexican Musical Theater and Movie Palaces in Downtown Los Angeles before 1950
Tide Was Always High

John Koegel

University of California Press

The Plaza was the first site of Spanish colonial civilian settlement in 1781, it was also the first entertainment district in Los Angeles. From the mid-nineteenth century through the 1950s, Plaza district buildings housed immigrant-oriented businesses, churches, restaurants and cafes, grocery stores, social clubs, billiard halls, saloons, music stores, dance halls, rooming houses, phonograph parlors, penny arcades, nickelodeons and ten-cent motion picture houses, and vaudeville theaters. The development of the Plaza area over time mirrors the transition of Los Angeles from a small Spanish and Mexican pueblo to an American frontier city, and ultimately to one of the world's major cities and metropolitan areas. This chapter explores how musical theater directly relates to physical location, civic identity, immigration, and ethnicity. A recurring process of cultural conflict, maintenance, and accommodation played out over time on stage in Los Angeles's Latino theatrical world. Music and theater served as conduits for communal self-expression, as powerful symbols of Mexican identity, and as signs of tradition and modernity.

Keywords:   Mexican music, Los Angeles, musical theater, civic identity, immigration, ethnicity, Mexican identity, communal self-expression

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