Dancing to support gay rights or oppose police brutality is all part of the routine for the hardest-working group in Southern California's leftist protest circuit.
By Hector Becerra
"Aztec dancers at a protest for any leftist cause in Southern California are as ubiquitous as 'si se puede' chants and posters of Emiliano Zapata and Che Guevara," says Gustavo Arellano, editor of the OC Weekly and author of the syndicated "Ask a Mexican!" column.
They also frequently dance at antiwar protests, which might seem a bit strange, seeing as the Aztecs weren't exactly known as peace-loving lotus-eaters.
Alexei Hong, 30, an activist for the antiwar, anti-hunger group Food Not Bombs, says the thought sometimes occurs to her when she sees the Aztec dancers.
"I think of war and empire, and then it's funny to see them at these anti-imperialist and antiwar protests," says Hong, who rode her bike at the May Day protest.
The Aztecs, Garcia says, get a bad rap.
"The myth is that we are a bloodthirsty people, but that's not true," she says, picking at her salad at a Denny's the day before the big march. "It's one of the struggles we've had as an indigenous people, the image that has been forced on us to justify all sorts of things that have been done."
Below: "Costumed members of the Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc political Aztec dance group perform on Broadway in downtown L.A. earlier this month. (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times)