Webbies celebrate Hispanic Heritage month with dazzling mariachi band event


Leia Albornoz ('25)

The Mariachi de Los Angeles plays for the Webb community as students, faculty, and families are invited to dance on the quad on a Friday evening.

 “Magical. Emotional. Awesome,” Emilia Bordage (‘23) said, describing the Latinx affinity group event that celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. “I just felt like there was nobody else like me freshman year, so it was really nice to be recognized and see other people enjoying my culture.”  

On September 23rd, Webb and the Latinx affinity group hosted an event in which Latinx students and parents came together on campus, sharing foods and treats from their respective countries. The event attracted a large turnout, bringing not only students but Webb staff, faculty, and the overall community together. As well as eager parents serving a variety of delicious foods, Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles performed at the quad for all on campus to hear.  

Mariachi Arcoiris is the world’s first LGBTQ+ Mariachi band and performs traditional Mexican music. The group was established as a space for mariachi musicians who identify as LGBTQ+ to join and perform Mexican regional music in order to celebrate their culture. It’s a distinctive yet successful ensemble that represents the traditions of Hispanic culture. 

“I’ve never really found myself expressing that side of my identity so openly at Webb,” said Valeria Gonzalez (‘23). “I was overwhelmed by a lot of emotion to have a Mariachi band here and be able to sing along to songs I grew up listening to with family.” 

Latinx Webb parents originally organized for the Mariachi band to come and perform at Webb during the first week of Hispanic Heritage Month, as they wanted their children to be able to celebrate their culture away from home. Given that Latinx students at Webb are a minority population, maintaining cultural celebrations can be challenging. This was one of the main issues raised by the parents of Latinx students here at Webb. Latinx Webb Parents pushed to organize an event where not only their children, but the whole Webb community could all celebrate their culture.  

“This conversation happened two months before,” said John Choi, Director of Equity, about the planning process of cultural events like the Mariachi. “Oftentimes,, people have a very short timeline in terms of how they want something turned around, and that’s kind of a challenge.”  He explained that cultural events like the Mariachi band are student, parent, and faculty driven. With all the events and academic rigor at Webb, students can find it difficult to propose events they are passionate about in the right time frame. It has more to do with planning ahead of time and understanding our logistics and budget. 

Gretel Barsotti, Webb’s Assistant Director of Equity, was the one who suggested Mariachi Arociris came to Webb. Fortunately, with a new budget allocated to the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This year, Webb was able to book them to perform for the community. Since this was the first time Webb hosted an event like this, several parents volunteered to make the most of it.  

“Parents wanted to host the event for their students not just for themselves- but they also wanted to show and share their culture to the whole community,” said Ms. Barsotti.  

So, where is Webb headed in terms of planning its cultural events? For several years, students have been advocating for more focus on celebrating and recognizing Webb’s diverse backgrounds. Thankfully, due to a larger budget for DEI at Webb, and the addition of the new position of Assistant Director of Equity, Webb is headed towards a new direction. Mr. Choi is always open to conversations in the right timeframe. 

“The need [for cultural events] has always been there but hasn’t been approved up until Mr. Choi came into this position — no one had the job to specifically make events like these happen,” said Ms. Barsotti. “Having the band and the budget and passion to make sure as many people as possible feel represented is something we want to work more towards here at Webb.”  

At a school like Webb, cultural celebrations are crucial as they allow students the chance to acquire creativity, self-assurance, effective communication, and the capacity to absorb and understand not only their own but others’ cultural heritage.