When Raul Rodriguez, Jr. rolls up to a lowriding event in his 1963 Chevrolet Impala convertible along with other members of the HighClass Car Club’s Austin chapter, he can’t help but feel a sense of community and cultural pride.
Little kids get excited by the hydraulics; people’s phones go up when they arrive at any event.
“It’s for the culture,” Rodriguez, 29, says. “You want to see your culture (represented) and be proud of it.”
HighClass Car Club launched in 1977 in California and has grown to 45 chapters around the world. Austin’s local chapter launched in 2018, and its members participate in everything from area car shows to local benefits.
HighClass Car Club will be among the featured groups highlighted during MAS Cultura Fest, a festival from Nov. 18-20 that amplifies art, music, lowriders and cultura.
“From vivid murals to personalized lowriders, Latino expression is sewn into the fabric of Austin’s culture, yet our community has historically been overlooked and underserved,” says MAS Cultura Founder Monica Maldonado. “This cultural event is driven by authenticity and intentionality; MAS Cultura Fest serves as a bridge between the essential cultural heritage of Austin’s Latino community and the city’s future.”
The inaugural three-day festival will be held at two East Austin sites: KMFA Classic Radio Station and RichesArt, which is the city’s only Black-owned gallery. The fest, presented by CapMetro, shines a light on Latinidad through its musical showcases ranging from cumbia to hip-hop, art exhibits featuring more than 60 visual artists, plus a vendor market, food tastings and DJs. On Sunday, HighClass Car Club will host a lowrider car show.
“Lowriding is art,” Rodriguez says. “It’s part of our Chicano culture.” In addition to the artistry that comes with custom paint jobs, murals and hydraulic lifts, each car explores self-expression, identity, history, and roots.
“For people who don’t know, you have to experience it,” he says. Rodriguez, who has been lowriding since childhood, has seen Austin’s lowrider scene begin to grow and he encourages newcomers to get involved with local car clubs.
Despite misconceptions, he says, lowriding is all about family and he hopes his four-year-old son grows up loving the lifestyle too. “It means everything to me.”
IF YOU GO:
MAS Cultura Fest
Two East Austin locations
KMFA Classic Radio Station (41 Navasota St.) and RichesArt Gallery (2511 E. Sixth St.)
WHEN: Nov. 18-20
WHO: Some featured artists include DJ Gabby Got It, Manolo Black, psychedelic cumbia outfit El Combo Oscuro, Imperio Regional, among others. See full lineup here.
COST: Admission to the art galleries, featuring the work of Latino and other BIPOC artists, are free between 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for evening performances and events range from $10-$75. More details can be found here.