Cinco De Mayo Preview

If Saint Patrick’s Day is New York’s official beginning of spring holidays, then Cinco de Mayo trumpets the beginning of summer. While the holiday’s origins are serious— the day officially commemorates the Mexican army’s surprise victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, and not, as some believe, Mexican independence— Cinco de Mayo has become the perfect time to celebrate all aspects of Mexican culture, just as the weather starts to really warm up. From music to food to dancing, Americans have long delighted in this holiday, beginning in 1863, when Mexican miners, who heard of the Battle of Puebla and their country’s triumph, set off gunshots and fireworks, sang patriotic songs, and gathered together with their loved ones to celebrate. Fast forward 100 years, to the 1960s and the Chicano Movement (when Mexican individuals fought injustice and stereotypes through political action, and literary and visual arts), the holiday spread from the West Coast and became popular all over the United States (that includes right here in Astoria!). So, head out into the neighborhood this year, armed with your friends, family, and this list of do’s and don’t’s to make sure your holiday is a good one.

DO pick a place beforehand. Don’t waste your time on the day of arguing about where to go and what to do. Plan the fun ahead of time (at least loosely) so that you’ll be able to go ahead with no worries! For great times at great prices, head to local standby Oliver’s (37-19 Broadway) for a night of fun, not to mention food and drink specials (if you’re in the mood for some pre- Cinco de Mayo celebrating, head over every Tuesday for $2.50 tacos and specially priced tequila shots). Bohemian Hall will be hosting its annual Cinco de Mayo party, or, if you’re in the mood for something a little offbeat, head to the The Creek and the Cave in Long Island City for some laughs and one of their plethora of flavored margaritas— options range from traditional flavors to interesting combinations like pomegranate and blackberry, and they all come in pint glasses for the exceptionally thirsty partygoer.

DO make a day of it. Don’t just grab one margarita at your local happy hour— theme the day! Of course, tacos and margaritas are Cinco de Mayo staples, but maybe take some time this year to research a Mexican dish you’ve been dying to make, or head to 11-90 Welling Court to check out Frida Khalo’s eyes at the Welling Court Mural Project. If you’ve got kids (or know someone who does), maybe this is the year you break out the cultural crafts (find step-by-step guides to making fiesta flower bouquets, making Khalo-inspired flower crowns, and the ever-popular God’s Eye online).

DON’T call it “Cinco de Drinko.” This should go without saying, but a holiday that commemorates a historic battle isn’t just an excuse for you to get hammered and sing your worst rendition of “La Cucaracha.” Respect the fact that this holiday is a great opportunity for everyone, no matter where you’re from, to have a lot of fun and celebrate Mexican culture. Keep it classy, and if you really must sing, stick to something that won’t make everyone around you roll their eyes—or just dance and listen. Check the jukebox at any Spanish venue for retro hits like “La Bamba,” “El Paso,” “Tequila,” “Besame Mucho,” “Cielito Lindo,” “Paloma Blanca,” “Perfidia,”—and while you’re at it, why not branch out to some other Latin all-time classics like “Guantanamera,” “El Watusi,” “Patricia,” “Bang Bang,” “La Pollera Colora,” “Brazil,” “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás”—you’ll know them when you hear them and super enjoy.

— Bronwyn Davila

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2018-04-01 digital edition