Spanish speakers call this festival the Festival de Avándaro or even just Avandaro. Similar to the famous American Woodstock event, this is known as one of the most important rock festivals in Mexico, and it occurred only a couple of years after Woodstock.
Overview Of The Festival of Avandaro
The organizers attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the village of Tenantongo, Mexico between September 11 and September 12 of 1971. This hamlet is located by Lake Avadaro and close to the Avandaro Golf Club, so that is how the festival got its name. This is located near a somewhat larger town called Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Even though nobody knows for sure, the organizers believe that the audience size for this festival ranged from at least 100,000 to as many as 500,000 guests.
A pair of brothers, Alfonso and Eduardo Lopez led the concert through a company called Negrete. Telesistema Mexicano was also involved in the large event. The purpose of the concert was to celebrate life, a culture of youth, peace, ecology, love, and of course music. Because the event included psychedelic music and a lot of artwork and imagery of the counterculture, it has been compared as most similar to Woodstock.
Like Woodstock, the Festival of Avandaro is considered one of the largest milestones for Mexican rock music. Originally, only 12 acts were slated for this event. However, because of the massive audience and attention, 18 acts ended up being showcased at the Festival of Avandaro.
Events That Lead Up To The Festival of Avandaro
At that time, Mexico was gaining some positive international attention for a couple of reasons. Mostly, this was for sports, as the country had hosted the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. At the same time, the government was still quite repressive towards youth, and certainly, young Mexicans were also being influenced by the counterculture just north of the border in the United States. Demonstrations and events like Woodstock happening in the US did not escape their attention.
In Mexico, the hippies were called “Jipitecas” by conservatives. They called the movement La Onda, or in English, The Wave. They never advocated any violence to make changes, but they did want change. By the time of the Festival of Avandaro, the government had reacted quite strongly to this movement.
For instance, the government banned Hair, the US musical after it had only one performance in Acapulco. They also censored some local musicians and actors, and they even deported foreign ones. At that time, the U.S. press took note of these actions, and they were covered extensively in American newspapers. Even with censorship and repression, people in Mexico still got news of large events in the United States, South America, and Europe. They wanted to hold their own event as a way to draw more attention and gain support to end the repression.
Organization Of The Festival of Avandaro
At first, the organizers had planned to hold a large auto-racing even and not a counterculture event. They did plan to have some musical acts as entertainment. In any case, the auto aspect of this helped them gain support from local Chrysler dealers. As the promoters worked with their sponsors, they only expected about 25,000 people to attend, and they would only have the bands play as entertain leading up to the auto races.
As crowds were several times larger and different than expected from just ticket sales, they ended up canceling the auto races. Instead, more bands arrived to provide virtually round-the-clock entertainment. Despite the fact that attendance was so large, the festival was very peaceful. The main problems were the destruction of barricades because of the massive crowds.