The musical genre of Latin dance-rap known as Reggaeton has without a doubt exploded in the past 10 years, rising from the basements of Puerto Rico to the top of the pops worldwide. With major hits like Daddy Yankee's 2004 anthem 'Gasolina', or Don Omar's more recent song 'Danza Kuduro', it's no surprise that there's a rising youth culture surrounding the movement. Known as Reggaetoneros, members are known to sport mohawks, facial piercings, spikey hair, and make-up (regardless of gender). And, like any subculture, it's being heavily frowned upon by the mainstream society it's rebelling against.
One of the places it's garnered the most attention is in Mexico City where residents view the movement as nothing more than a bunch of thugs responsible for a rise in thefts and drug dealing. Tensions were escalated last July, after a concert scheduled to take place in the Zona Rosa neighborhood was cancelled by the police. All hell broke loose as a direct result, when people began vandalizing cars and even took over an entire shopping mall before more than 200 of the Reggaeteneros were eventually arrested. Within recent weeks following the episode, similar outbreaks have occurred with even more mass arrests taking place in response.
Surrounding the movement is a controversial style of dance known as Perreo, which is nothing more than a slightly raunchier version of grinding. When asked by members themselves, the argument stands that it really is more about having a good time than setting out to cause any trouble. "I go to dance, not to take drugs, and they say I'm a delinquent," said Donovan Leal, a 16-year-old operating a portable fried chicken stand. Head of Mexico City's Commission on Human Rights, Luis Gonzales adds, "The word reggaetonero has come to mean an angry youth, a drug-addict, or a delinquent, when neither the liking of that music or involvement in that scene necessarily has anything to do with the labels being assigned to them."
All in all, it seems not unlike the punk movement that began in the mid '70s. A social movement reflecting the struggles of life as an outcast. In a city where nearly half of the total population live below the poverty line, the Raggaetoneros stem from some of the most desperate living conditions. The necessity for music as an escape is undoubted, while their rejecting of standard values defined by a system that neglects them can probably be expected.