Pachuco refers to a particular old school subculture of Chicanos and Mexican-Americans once associated with zoot suits, street gangs, nightlife and flamboyant public behavior.
The Pachuco style originated in the late 1930s in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and in El Paso, Texas and moved westward, following the line of migration of Mexican railroad workers “traqueros” into Los Angeles, where it developed further.
The word “pachuco” originated, probably early in the 20th century, in a Mexican Spanish slangterm for a resident of the cities of El Paso and Juárez.
In the early 1970s, a recession and the increasingly violent nature of gang life resulted in an abandonment of anything that suggested dandyism. Accordingly, Mexican-American gangs adopted a T-shirts and khakis derived from prison uniforms. However, the zoot suit remains a popular choice of formal wear for urban and rural Latino youths in heavily ethnic neighborhoods.
The pachuco style, declined both for the male and female, is expressed through specific codes and attributes: a hat with feather, suspenders, wide trousers at the waist and narrow at the ankles (zoot suit), shiny two-tone shoes, the chain (once used for the knife, now most used for the clock), dark glasses, tattoos and a gold cross around the neck.
A pachuca is the female counterpart, idealized as a beautiful Chicana woman in extravagant evening dress or in a female version of the zoot suit.
Nowadays the Pachuco identity, style and attitude still resists mainly at the Mexican-US border cities like Ciudad Juarez/El Paso and Tijuana/San Diego as well as in Mexico City. A Pachuco doesn’t mean gangster anymore. It rather means a street connected male or female who is passionate with dance, lowrider cars and dresses.
Beyond the flamboyant style, the important aspect of the Pachuco subculture is the strong sense of common belonging among the members of the group, and especially the resistance and defense of the mexican-chicano-latino identity, particularly in areas directly behind the US-MEX border line. .