The Ladies Lowrider of Los Angeles – University Times

Women don’t just pose in front of lowriders with sexy bikinis and hot pants.

Now they own the lowriders and shake things up with their own style, car clubs and culture.

Photo courtesy of Paul Sandoval.

Lowrider culture has traditionally been dominated by men and women are mostly associated with their boyfriends or husbands, remaining silent in the background. But seeing more women over the past decade buying, repairing and tuning their own cars has allowed a whole new generation of women to enter the hobby.

“I’ve seen so many girls driving lowriders lately. It’s really cool to see. I have a lot of respect for the low riding community. They all come together when something happens. People help you out when you break down, and it’s just super cool driving these nice cars, ”said Gaby Jimenez, who lives in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Patty Pineda, who moved from South El Monte in Corona 12 years ago, said she met her husband at a mini truck club for small truck owners and has been in the community ever since.

She became even more entrenched in the culture as photographer and owner of Mini-Truck Era Magazine, which is dedicated to the presentation of mini-trucks and lowriders.

Pineda added that one of the qualities that sets the culture of female riders apart from that of men is encouragement and positivity over pure competition.

“People would start clapping every time they saw a woman jump up and down with a lowrider because it was still so unusual,” Pineda said.

Pineda believes that women’s acceptance in the male-dominated sport has been slow over the years, but has visibly increased as more women join the ranks and men get used to and even love it. their participation.

LA of Lowriding, and male dominated roots

If the culture has a home base, it would be Whittier Boulevard in Los Angeles, a wide shopping street that crosses the Key barrios of the city, including East Los Angeles.

The Lowrider culture originated in the post-WWII era, when veterans had money to buy cars and repair them, and it was popularized during the Civil Unrest of the 1960s, when Native Americans Mexican wanted to stand out culturally and express their own sense of style.

These men customized their cars to run low to the ground, equipped with a special hydraulic system to bounce them up and down.

While women were mostly spectators or passengers back then, as more and more of them entered the workforce and got better paying jobs, they wanted a taste of lowrider culture.

Enter the Lady Bugs Car Club in the 1970s. It was one of the first car clubs for women and was founded by Stella Perez in the wake of the Volkswagen Beetle craze in the early 1970s. Its first members came from places like Sun Valley, East Los Angeles and Echo Park, according to Motor Trend magazine.

Lowriding women today

Now find women buy and convert their own rides and participate in the lowrider scene is much more common. Clubs such as ‘Ladies and Lowriders United’ provide space for lowriding women to come together and hold annual competitions such as the one that declares ‘Lady Rider of the Year’.

Jimenez, for example, has been lowriding since 1994. The first lowrider she owned was a 1962 Chevrolet Impala, which she bought about eight years ago and still owns.

“It’s a garage so it stays very clean,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez is grateful that she was exposed to lowriding as a child since her father had a 1947 Cadillac and her older brother enjoyed fixing a lowrider bike and his VW bug. But her biggest influence is her husband, who is in an automobile club. Together they saw many lowriders and even went to Cuba to see old cars.

She designs and designs while her husband helps her execute the ideas.

Jimenez says she enjoys going to the swap meet and auto shows to check out cars and get ideas for her own.

in this photo someone is posing in the car and the car has a notice on the front window "do not touch"
Photo courtesy of Gaby Jimenez.

Longtime lowrider Paul Sandoval, who has helped Snoop Dog and others with their lowriders, said he has seen many more women active in the community and forming their own auto clubs, which would have been unusual there is even 10 years old. Each of her daughters has her own lowrider.

Lowriding stereotypes persist

However, some stereotypes are slow to disappear.

“It gives them a lot of attention and they always get asked if it’s really their car or their fathers, but they tell people it’s actually their car,” Sandoval said. “I know at least eight to ten female owners who also come from diverse backgrounds. “

In the photo there are two people who look like a couple standing near the garage and the hood of the car is open.
Photo by Laura Sandoval and Paul Sandoval. (Stéphanie Sical / UT)

He had to grapple with other misconceptions about lowriding.

When he started dating his wife, Laura Sandoval, she didn’t like his involvement in the lowrider community because she was afraid for their safety: Lowriding was then affiliated with a gang.

So at one point Paul asked her to go with him to an event and see for herself.

Laura said what she experienced that day changed her perspective: “I expected a fight to happen, but on the contrary, there were only families coming together. to show off and talk about their lowriders and make lasting and meaningful connections.

Paul added that “an old lady came in and explained that her husband owned a car just like mine and even started to cry. Since then my wife started to enjoy the ride and stopped being afraid of this world.

In the photo, the girl in a blue t-shirt and a blue cap stands near the big red car.
Photo courtesy of Paul Sandoval.

Just as she arrived, Paul said he was confident others will: “The stereotype that lowriders are all gang-related is slowly fading and now more and more women are investing. in their cars and join the cruising lifestyle, which in the end is it. family and culture oriented.

In fact, Sandoval said he believes lowriding has kept many young men like him from engaging in other harmful hobbies such as drugs or gangs.

Lowriding attracts fans, not just car owners

Word is spreading quickly about lowriding, even among those who are not actively participating.

In the photo, the girl wears a black mask and has curly hair.
Head of Kate Montalvo. (Stéphanie Sical / lowUT)

For example, Kate Montalvo, area supervisor of dd’s DISCOUNTS clothing store in the Commerce area, became a fan as an observer because she discovered the culture through customers who are lowriders, including women. , and love to watch them after work.

Some lowriding events take place in the parking lot of the Commerce Shopping Center, where she works.

“Working here has allowed me to experience cultural expression through their meetings here,” Montalvo said. “On Sundays, the low-riders cross town and it’s fun to watch. Especially the low-rider girls who own their cars. They look so cool.

James C. Tibbs