Why Is Coachella Appropriating Día de los Muertos?

May 30, 2014
12:51 PM

We got the following tip via an email from a follower who said, “WTF.” Looks like the city of Coachella in California (home to Coachellafest) is going on a massive appropriation binge for Día de los Muertos, with the creation of Día de los Muertos USA. We guess organizers forgot about the whole Disney social media fiasco from last year.

To “celebrate” what is a rather authentic and sacred holiday in Mexico, Cuban-born Rodri J. Rodriguez of Luz Entertainment LLC is working with the City of Coachella to create the “ultimate Día de los Muertos experience.” As the site explains:

The mysticism of the desert and spirituality have for centuries been romantically intertwined by peoples of many faiths.
Belief is that the desert is the ultimate destination for godly connection and universal reception.
One evening in the desert confirms the feeling of oneness with the universe…where only our senses guide our feelings. Intricate weavings of stars, pure night air with an undefined mystical fragrance, sounds of falling stars and endless darkness facilitating entrance to solitude… where we are never alone…where we are accompanied once a year by spirits that descend on Coachella Valley, to celebrate their day… Día de los Muertos.

The November event will have a Dancin’ the Dead area:

General Admission, VIP Seating and Control Areas – The event tickets will be sold either General Admission or VIP assigned seating , 1 and 2 day Pass. The general admission area allows guests to either stand or sit on the grass.

Although not a music festival, Dia De Los Muertos USA will deliver live entertainment to include various genres of music including Rock en Español, Regional Mexican, Mariachi, Norteño, Banda & Pop.

“Food and Libations” will have an “Oasis” bear and include “traditional Mexican delicacies.” You can also become a VIP.

Yeah the event has a Twitter (“A 4,000 year old Aztec tradition. The ultimate Día de los Muertos experience, a celebration of life featuring art,entertainment,culinary & libation enjoyment.”) and a Facebook page with over 22,000 likes already. The event also has an Instagram.

As we discussed this in the office today, a few of our comments:

“What do they have planned… a Día de los Muertos-themed hologram event?

“I rolled my eyes so hard, I believe I severed an optic nerve.”

And of course…


But hey, this isn’t the first example and it will very likely not be the last.


A few things to note, as we are reminded AFTER this piece was published:

So we checked out the site. No mention of Día de los Muertos USA. We know that the non-profit Raíces del Valle has nothing to do with Día de los Muertos USA and the group sent us a letter to make sure. The group at Raíces was quick to say that the Día de los Muertos USA is troubling for the community. Part of the letter said this: “We are not affiliated with Día de los Muertos USA, a business entity out of Los Angeles. Our website does not, as you make mention in your article about Días de los Muertos USA because this is not our event and we are not associated nor are we in partnership with this business entity.”

Let’s be real: when you see the advertisements for Día de los Muertos USA, what did you think? This is about a company (btw the company’s name is called Día de los Muertos USA) from Los Angeles trying to appropriate a holiday. We are in contact with Día de los Muertos USA and once we have comments from them, we will share.