Pachuko Hop

Pachuko Hop

Chuck Higgins

Fear of Rock

           Mom said "Don't go looking for trouble, you'll find it." And if you go looking for poltergeists you'll find them, too.

           By June 2, 1956 Fats Domino, Sam Phillips, Ike Turner's "Rocket 88," Alan Freed, Elvis, Bill Haley, the Blackboard Jungle, Little Richard, and other early R & B people were well on to inventing this new thing, Rock 'n' Roll.
           And like any new youth music craze (see the "godless" 16th century waltz), many adults looked to find a menace. It was easy to cast 1950s' fears onto Rock. Conspiracy theorist could say Communists brought the music into America to weaken us. Other irrational and racist commentators claimed that the lazy promiscuous (both at the same time?!) Negro was the fault. Or if you were in California, Mexican-Americans.

           And 1950 adults tried to stomp out the music and its suggestive dancing and lyrics.

Pachuko Hop

           Pachuko (or pachuco) refers to a style of dressing that might be better known as the zoot suit.

Pachuko Hop

Pachuko Hop

           Chuck Higgins was born in Indiana and moved to California where he eventually became the leader and saxophonist of  Chuck Higgins & His Mellotones. In 1952 he wrote "Pachuko Hop." The song became a local hit.

Pachuko Hop

           As was happening throughout the US, on June 2, 1956 there was a dance in the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium featuring Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra. Police entered the auditorium just to check on the event, and what they found, according to Lieutenant Richard Overton, was a crowd "engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of an all-negro band." 

           Lt. Overton shut down the dance.

           The next day, June 3, 1956, Santa Cruz city authorities announced a total ban on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music "Detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community."
              4822 days days later, 500,000 young people gathered on a Bethel, NY hay field to enjoy three days of music.
Pachuko Hop
Woodstock Music and Art Fair (photo by J Shelley)
 Thank you for your contribution to that thread Chuck Higgins and your "Pachuko Hop."

 

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