San Jose celebrates first annual Lowrider Day
San Jose celebrates lowriding culture in downtown at City Hall. Photo by Jeremy Hoang.

    San Jose City Hall was inundated with music and fanfare today as residents and visitors celebrated lowriding, a subculture centered around the customization of cars.

    San Jose has long been a hub for lowriding since its initial popularity in the 1940s, with roots in the city’s substantial Latino population. A cornerstone of the lowriding culture is cruising, which was banned in the city for almost four decades. Critics said the ban was a racist policy against the Latino community, and participants frequently risked fines and arrests. This policy changed last year after a strong push by former Councilmember Raul Peralez.

    Councilmembers Peter Ortiz, Omar Torres and Mayor Matt Mahan attended the city’s first annual Lowrider Day to show their support.

    “Lowriding has been about being proud of where you’re from, the car that you’ve invested money into. It’s about driving with your girlfriend or your family and cruising your city, your neighborhood, your community. It’s just being proud of your culture,” Ortiz told San José Spotlight. “It’s a positive way to celebrate the communities we’re from.”

    In May, law enforcement closed several main streets into downtown on Cinco de Mayo — a day of celebration for the Latino community. Traffic jams went viral on social media, and city and state officials called the citywide blockade racist. The closures limited people from accessing the city’s core during the annual Mexican celebration. This led to a memo by several councilmembers demanding law enforcement open better lines of communication with residents about road closures that may impact car and foot traffic when large events are planned.

    Downtown San Jose celebrates lowriding at city hall. Photo by Jeremy Hoang.

    David Polanco, president of the United Lowrider Council of San Jose, emphasized that lowriding is a special community to be respected.

    “Today is not just a celebration commemorating the cruising ban being lifted, this is a celebration of the perseverance and dedication of those that paved the way,” Polanco told San José Spotlight. “It’s a family, a multicultural gathering of people. It’s not just Chicanos.”

    Contact Jeremy Hoang at [email protected] or follow @jeremy_h77 on Twitter.

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