|For me, everything started with the cover of the gramophone record I found at the local flea market:|
I realized that I keep on seeing this kind of records all over flea markets of ex Yugoslav countries; Serbs, Montenegrins, Croats and Macedonians dressed in fake Mexican costumes singing sometimes in Spanish but mostly in their own languages about the beautiful country of Mexico where, no doubt, they have never been to. The records were made in the years of communist regime and even closed borders.
|I got home and started
googling. I couldn't find even a single mention
I realized I'm into something.
I scanned some record covers, made a web page and asked visitors to send me any information they have.
At first, nothing ...
|Then, people start remembering. Everybody of certain age remembered their parents being fans of this kind of music and to be a rocker in Yugoslavia meant to hate it. A owner of a night club from Sweden wrote me that when they're totally drunk and closing time is getting near, customers from ex Yugoslav countries start singing Mexican songs. Small patches of information started coming together.|
|Pleas started arriving: "My father is dying and he wishes to hear that song from that film again. Do you have it?"|
|What song? What film?|
|At the same time, my
imagination started constructing a story, set in
the times of the hardest state terror when
people can't do anything except escape into the
promised land, totally made in their
imagination: Yugoslav Mexico.
A story, set in the land of commissars, soldiers and agents where singing guys in fake Mexican dresses suddenly appear.
So, I wrote a novel called Paloma Negra (read more about it).
|When doing a research for the novel Paloma Negra, I talked with YuMex singers and realized that their stories must be documented, so I made a TV documentary called YuMex - Yugoslav Mexico (read more about it).|
Finally, the story about Yugoslav Mexico:
In 1948, the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito (May 7, 1892 - May 4, 1980) broke up with the Soviet leader Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (Dec. 21, 1879 - March 5, 1953). Yugoslavia was suddenly between the two blocks (in the making). Tito's regime imprisoned many Soviet sympathizers (real or just suspected). Russian films were not so popular anymore.
Yugoslav authorities had to look somewhere else for film entertainment. They found a suitable country in Mexico: it was far away, the chances of Mexican tanks appearing on Yugoslav borders were slight and, best of all, in Mexican films they always talked about revolution in the highest terms. How could an average moviegoer know that it was not the Yugoslav revolution?
Emilio Fernández's Un Día de vida (1950) became so immensely popular that the old people in the former republics of Yugoslavia even today regard it as surely one of the most well known films in the world ever made although in truth it is probably unknown in every other country, even Mexican web pages don't mention it much.
The Mexican influence spread to all of the popular culture: fake Mexican bands were forming and their records still can be found at the flea markets nowadays.
Take a stroll through the gallery of record covers (and music samples); if you have time just for one of them, try this one. For those in a hurry: Mama Huanita was a song every mother loved to hear on the radio for her birthday. Ay .... Chabela the dance bands still sing in the hotels all over former YU countries. The most charming Mexicans were Nikola Karović and Slavko Perović; while the most determined was Ljubomir Milić (with his whole family). Ana Milosavljević was the queen and the dark voice of Nevenka Arsova her first companion.
This is a small homage to hundreds of performers who covered themselves with sombreros to become Slavic Mexicans.
>> Enter the gallery of record covers (and music samples)!
Since 2011 there is even a 4 CD box (101 song) available:
Sex! Drugs! Rock'n'roll! - and bizarre record covers