Charras and charros
A charreada is the traditional Mexican rodeo based on the skills a charro (cowboy) needed to manage the cattle herds they were entrusted with. With the break-up of the large haciendas after the Mexican Revolution, the charreada was a way to maintain the charro culture and skills as the traditional lifestyle of the charros began to disappear.
Popularized by films and music, charro culture survived into the 21st century, and charreadas are still popular in Mexico as displays of horseman skills not unlike the North American rodeos.
For many Mexican-Americans, the charreadas and the associated lifestyle form a tie not only to the past, but to a country to which they have an emotional and cultural connection. By maintaining the tradition, they are able to keep part of their heritage while at the same time being thoroughly integrated into US society. The contrast between the rural charro tradition and the urban lifestyle of many of the charros presents a contradiction to some extent but also a connection between two essential parts of their lives.
Although initially a purely male event, girls and women have been active participants in the events since the 1950s. In 1992, the escaramuza, a competition of female precision riding teams, was made an official part of a charreada. This has required finding an official role for women in a male dominated tradition which would fit into the cultural image of the charreada. The solution was an homage to revolutionary general Pancho Villa's companion Adelita and her image as a fierce fighter and trusted helpmate. It is expressed in the combination of the traditional dress and high-speed horse-back maneuvers that remind more of military exercises than the usual precision riding teams.
A tightly-knit community, the charras and charros regularly meet on the weekends for charreadas or social events.