Stream Natalia Lafourcade for clear skin.
(From left to right: @jazziemad, @nataliamza, @jimmychimi / TikTok)
The devil works hard, but TikTok’s highly intelligent, incredibly niche algorithm works harder.
Gathering information from my obscure cultural food search history, perpetual extended family Facebook requests, and probably Spotify’s documentation of my Selena phase, I was granted access into the elusive world of ~ Alt Hispanic TikTok ~
A subgroup of the application’s popular alternative (alt) community, alt Hispanic TikTok is characterized by teens lip-syncing to older Latin rock songs. Coupled with the vibey grain filter and cut-out letter stickers à la ransom note, the trend stormed Hispanic TikTok users’ For You pages.
Although Luis Miguel’s Ahora Te Puedes Marchar initiated the trend, soon enough users branched off into other areas of Latin pop. Juanes’ Es Por Ti and La Oreja de Van Gogh’s Rosas were used as sounds for unconventional Latinx to contribute to and feel part of this rising community.
Despite Latin music’s popularity in American media via genres like reggaeton and bachata (El Conejo Malo fans, anyone?) this callback to older music represents the greater disconnect young Latinx often face in an increasingly Americanized upbringing.
These songs remind young Latinx about the minimal exposure they received of their cultures: songs played by mothers during Saturday morning house chores, bops blasting through too large speakers in a tio or tia’s basement party, or music ringing throughout the Mercado’s narrow aisles. The trend is largely defined by this callback to older Latin music as a means of connection to a culture either not passed down to or forgotten by this rising population of second- and third-generation immigrants.
The community also serves as an outlet for kids often discouraged from pursuing alternative fashion.
Trendy alt fashion like ripped clothing, dramatic eyeliner, and lipliner sans lipstick is often looked down upon and deemed unsuitable.
TikTok user and alt Hispanic member Eric Enriquez told Rowdy he sympathizes with alt youth “who wish to express themselves but can’t due to them being discouraged by their family’s culture.” Rather than connecting with alt Hispanic creators and being able to empathize with them, Latinx teens are often forced to suppress their creativity to avoid repercussions from their family.
These strange restrictions, imposed under the guise of culture, directly oppose fashion popularized by these groups not too long ago. Latin fashion continues to be well-recognized for the popularization of lip liners and crucial crop tops. An aspiration to reclaim this slice of history is often shut down by the very same people who founded it.
That tends to be because Latin culture can be often influenced by traditional and conservative values.
Enriquez said he has “felt constant pressure to serve my family’s name and values - which happened to be homophobic and anti-alternative.”
Yet, hidden within the walls of bedrooms or locked in the family bathroom, lip-syncing to long-forgotten ballads, painted with the confidence to withstand thousands of virtual eyes; here is where they have found their release.
“In the recent years,” Enriquez said, “I realized living a life to serve my family was taking a toll on my mental health. I decided to take the initiative to be and express myself - which greatly improved my mental health and in turn my relationship with myself.”
Now bolstered by the support of hundreds of thousands of viewers with the same stigma, struggle and style, this community has continued to serve as both a source of old and new.
The audio El Muchacho Con Los Ojos Tristes by Jeanette, released in 1981, has made its rounds as a meme shared by fandom, crying cat pictures, and our resident alt Hispanic youth alike. They’ve also uplifted modern Hispanic indie music like Natalie Lafourcade’s Nunca Es Suficiente to draw attention to Hispanic artists underrepresented in American media.
With only a few creators pioneering this corner of the internet and a mass of supporters finally finding the escapism they needed, this community has managed to create a sector of the internet fervently Latinx and inherently alternative.
Kaylinn Escobar is a Staff Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She's fond of underrated claymation, sitting in extravagant chairs, and yearning to the sound of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. She adores classics, healthcare, and re-told historical fiction. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.