Cinco de Mayo has become yet another holiday celebrated more in the U.S. than in the country it originated. St. Patrick’s Day springs to mind as another example.
According to History.com, May 5 is, for the most part, just another day in Mexico. It’s not a federal holiday, and offices, banks and stores remain open. There are celebrations, including military parades and re-enactments of the battle the day marks, but those events primarily take place in the state of Puebla, where the battle occurred.
In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. What started out as Mexican-Americans giving a nod to the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla has transformed into parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing, and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Obviously we just love an excuse to party.
Here’s a roundup of local events that commemorate Cinco de Mayo.
Undoubtedly the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the tri-county, though the event is billed as “South Carolina’s largest,” the eighth annual Charleston festival will be held Saturday at the Visitor Center Bus Shed, 375 Meeting St.
Starting at 7 p.m., revelers of all ages will have the opportunity to experience Hispanic food, dance and music.
Live music will be performed by the Atlanta Show Band and Playboy Cash, with a salsa dance exhibition and Zumba exhibition adding to the atmosphere. There also will be a motor show by Street Revoluzion, with more acts and event still to be announced.
The event promises “plenty of tequila to go around,” as well as craft beers, and food trucks and vendors including Pollo Tropical, Vallarta Grill, EL Sabor Latino and El Centroamericano. Cultural merchandise vendors also will be on-hand.
The event will be held rain or shine. On-site parking is available for a small fee. Tickets for the festival are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the event. For more info, go to www.charlestoncinco.com.
The official after-party of the Charleston Cinco de Mayo Festival will be at Southend Brewery, 161 East Bay St., with details to come.
Mex 1 Coastal Cantina
A newer restaurant on the scene, Mex 1 Coastal Cantina in West Ashley will celebrate its first Cinco de Mayo with a celebration noon-10 p.m. Sunday.
The restaurant will have live music outside throughout the event provided by The Dubplates and Malandro Soul.
Sunday’s menu will feature specialty tacos, local craft beers and fresh-squeezed margaritas. “We’re going to raffle off an awesome new surfboard, and everyone can spin the wheel for free gifts,” said owner Jack Hurley.
The restaurant is at 817 St. Andrews Blvd. in West Ashley. Call 751-4001 or go to www.mex1coastalcantina.com for more.
Cha Cha’s Tequila Bar
A self-proclaimed Mexican sports bar, Cha Cha’s Tequila Bar at 1409 Folly Road will hold “the biggest baddest Sunday Funday ever” in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
Intended for participants ages 18 and older, the 1-7 p.m. event will include three inflatable water slides, six area DJs spinning outside (Skitch, John Kutter, Moo Moo, Precise, RJ and United), a bikini contest (first place wins $500, second $300 and third $200) and more. There also will be all-you-can-eat beef tacos.
Advance tickets are $10, with day-of tickets going for $15. Go to chachastequilabar.com for more.
Both locations of Taco Boy, 217 Huger St. in downtown Charleston and 15 Center St. on Folly Beach, will throw their own fiestas on Sunday.
Bands will be performing at both locations and margaritas will be flowing. Dogs are welcome on the patios, especially Chihuahua’s in costume, according to the restaurant.
Taco Boy downtown will be 21 and older with a $5 cover after 6 p.m. For details, call 588-9761. For information on happenings at the Folly Beach location, call 588-9761.
Mellow Mushroom is upping the ante by offering folks a chance to win “the Ultimate Trip to Mexico” in a contest running through Sunday.
Those 21 and older can enter by stopping by a participating Mellow Mushroom and taking the “Most Interesting Photo” with the “Most Interesting Man.” Those who do will have a chance to win Dos Equis merchandise, Mellow Mushroom gift cards and the grand prize: a trip for two to Mexico with your choice of destination, including Cancun, Rivera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres or a Mexican cruise.
Go to www.CincoDeMellow.com for further details and rules.
Voodoo Tiki Bar
Avondale hot spot Voodoo Tiki Bar + Lounge at 15 Magnolia Road will put a Cuban twist on the normal Cinco de Mayo party with an evening of Latin-inspired jazz tunes.
Dance the night away or just sit back and enjoy the free show by the Charleston Latin Jazz Quartet, which starts at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Food and drink specials will be offered, including $5 fresh fruit mojitos and half-price tacos. Call 769-0228.
The Pour House
The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, will celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Sunday with Cherry Royale, which is described as playing “psychedelic funk/soul/rock.” Doors open at 9 p.m. for the free show.
The Buddhist Prodigies, performing Phish covers, will appear on the deck with doors for that free show opening at 4 p.m.
Call 571-4343 for more info.
Swingo De Mayo
The V-Tones will be helping the Ballroom Dance Club, 1632 Ashley Hall Road, at Sunday night’s Swingo De Mayo Swing Dance event.
With lessons starting at 6 p.m. and live music starting at 7:30 p.m., work off those burritos from earlier with some fun-filled dancing.
Admission is $10 and $5 for club members and students. Go to www.ballroomdancecharleston.org.