For the South Bay lowrider community, cruising is not just for holidays - it's a lifestyle

Lauren Martinez Image
Friday, May 5, 2023
Here's a look at San Jose's lowrider culture and community
Cinco de Mayo is extra special this year following the no cruising ban was lifted in San Jose last year.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- For the lowrider community - cruising is not just for holidays - it's a lifestyle.

San Jose resident David Polanco doesn't own regular cars - he has lowriders dating back to the 1950's.

"A lot of our cars are sentimental to us in one way or another. Just like the Chevelle over there, I've had that since I was 19 - that was my wife's family car," Polanco said.

Ahead of Cinco de Mayo, he's thinking back on how the Mexican holiday was celebrated when he was growing up in San Jose.

RELATED: Hispanic Heritage Month: Women, girls in Dueñas Car Club share love of low riding

The dozen or so women, teens and girls that make up Dueñas Car Club are friends or family members who all share a love for low riding.

"Running around the streets in downtown San Jose and seeing the cars and the music and the entertainment. The Folklorico dancing- you name it. The Aztec dancing you know. It was just a big celebration with San Jose it's a prideful thing and unfortunately we don't have that anymore," Polanco said.

The annual celebration has been scaled back over the years.

But there is hope for change.

"I always say, the city has already proven they've embraced the lowrider community," Polanco said.

In September of last year, San Jose's decades old ban on cruising was lifted. The 'no cruising zone' sign posted along east Santa Clara Street was removed.

MORE: Last 'No Cruising Zone' sign comes down in San Jose, lowrider community celebrates historic change

The lowrider community celebrated the removal of a decades-old ban on cruising in San Jose with the final "No Cruising Zone" sign being taken down.

Now the United Lowrider Council of San Jose is organizing to help other cities get their ban repealed.

"We all want the same thing to make it better for everybody and put a positive look on lowriding," Polanco said.

Polanco says the history of lowriding is not on their side but that's what they're trying to change.

MORE: 'We are one': Mexican pride on full display as Cinco de Mayo draws large crowds to SJ

Mexican pride was on full display in San Jose for Cinco de Mayo. The city is known to draw large crowds for the annual celebration.

"All we can do is focus on what we do. That's one of the reason's we've organized the group to show the positive side of lowriding," Polanco said.

The next event United Lowrider Council of San Jose is organizing is scheduled for Sunday May 21 called Raza Unida Fest. It will be a famil- friendly event with live music and vendors between San Salvador and Market Street.

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