Watching Son Semillas co-founders Arabella Parlati Daniels and Francisco Cortes organize and facilitate a going away Fandango for one of the families who have participated for over 3 years was amazing. Arabella and Francisco founded Son Semillas after having been participatory in the Son Jarocho scene for many years. Son Semillas is a group of children and their families from all over San Antonio. The families come from a wide array of backgrounds, some immigrant families, some long time San Antonian’s, it is a cultural melting pot.
The event on Facebook was listed from 5-6pm and the location was a house. Traditionally the fandangos take place regularly at the Frank Garrett Community Center on the West side of San Antonio. Meeting the group in a family setting was very welcoming. When I arrived Arabella informed me that while the event was listed from 5-6pm, it actually lasts much longer. I was able to hang around for almost 4 hours, my wife and child were even able to drop by which was very nice. The event started with the children playing outside and parents inside preparing snacks and as it would turn out mole tamales. It was neat to see how they organically involved the children with the process of making tamales and teaching them a Latino tradition that goes far back in history.
After preparing food and playing outside some more, Arabella and Ryan, a dad of one of the musicians began tuning all of the jaranas. All the while more and more people kept showing up. Some children had already tuned their jaranas themselves. After talking to Arabella some more I learned that the children can actually earn a jarana by attending all the Fandangos and their families being participatory.
Then after the family of honor showed up and the place hopping, Son Semillas played a song. For those unfamiliar with Son Jarocho each song is a participatory experience where all the players work in synergy, in a way like a drum circle. In addition to playing their jaranas, the students and adults sang, as well as play other instruments such as the quijada.
Their song lasted over 8 minutes and it was amazing to see children who were just minutes ago running around and playing all of a sudden engaged in an experience that in my opinion transcends so many social and cultural norms.
I was also able to talk to the mother of the family who was leaving and get her perspective on how Son Semillas has impacted their lives, her response was amazing.
Overall it was a great experience, to find out more about their organization like their Facebook page and lookout for future events.