Nima Taradji Photography

Bajito y Suavecito
Location: Chicago
Nationality: American
Biography: NIMATARADJI photography +1-312-925-3500 +1-866-701-3686 I am an Iranian-American editorial and documentary photographer based in Chicago, Illinois.  Cultural, social and political themes attract my curiosity. My aim is... read on
Public Story
Bajito y Suavecito
Copyright nima taradji photography 2021
Date of Work 08/01/13 - 08/06/17
Updated 09/16/19

Text by Hector Luis Alamo 

Lowrider culture began in the desert somewhere. Whether it started in the actual desert shared by El Paso, Texas and New Mexico, or whether it emerged from the socioeconomic desert along Whittier Boulevard, that's still up for debate.

The pachucos were the first to lower their rides, though no one really knows where the pachucos came from either. Some say El Paso, as the town was known as "El Chuco" and people headed there were said to be going "pa' El Chuco." Others claim pachuco is just a corruption of the word pocho, which is what Mexicans call their Americanized cousins north of the Rio Grande. No longer Mexicans but not accepted in the American mainstream either, the pachucos wore the baggy pants and long coats popular among their black and Italian counterparts. It was the pachucos who were the main targets of the so-called Zoot Suit Riots in June 1943.

In the beginning they put sandbags in their trunks. These weren't the 1974 Monte Carlos or even the 1964 Impalas that we associate with lowriding today. The cars pachucos drove had the rounded classic look that was out of style with the well-to-do mainstream which wanted its cars to look more like something from Mars.

As time passed and new generations of Mexican Americans adapted pachuco culture, the elegant cars of the 1940s and 50s gave way to the big, boxy boats on wheels of the 1960s and 70s. Eventually the pachuco disappeared altogether, and in his place appeared a new breed of Mexican Americans looking to add to and distinguish themselves from American culture: the chicanos. Gone were the zoot suits, but chicanos were just as identifiable as their pachuco forebears had been. They were the ones marching in the streets demanding rights and yelling "Sí se puede!" Chicanos spoke of something called "la Raza" and "brown power."

As in any other major city in the United States, the chicanos and blacks of Los Angeles lived close enough to each other that their cultures borrowed from one another. By the time West Coast gangsta rap took off in the late Eighties, lowriding was as much a part of Compton's culture as N.W.A.'s music was a part of the culture of East Los. Music videos gave the rest of America the impression that lowrider culture was mostly a black thing " and not only that, but a part of the "thug life" described by gangsta rappers.

Lowriders had always received a bad wrap, of course. Anything young people do is always considered dangerous and subversive by the grown-ups in charge. Unfortunately, lowriding and gangsta rap comes out of the same, neglected communities plagued by poverty and crime. Once gangsta rappers featured lowriding in their videos alongside liquor, weed and guns, it only confirmed what most of the detractors of lowrider culture had been saying for decades.

Yet through its history there have been enthusiasts working to preserve lowriding as an important artifact of the larger Latino culture. Car clubs have sprung up in places such as Chicago " with names like South Side Cruisers, Amistad and Con Estilow " imposing strict codes of conduct on their members.

"There are a whole lot of lowriders who are preoccupied with being a positive presence in their community," Ben Chappell, author of Lowrider Space: Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars, said in a 2012 interview with Vice. "The club that I spent the most time with had strict rules: no drinking or drugs, no gang activity. When you were representing the club in public, that was a serious responsibility."

In the same vein, for the past five years the Chicago Urban Art Society has hosted the Slow&Low: Community Lowrider Festival in the city's Pilsen neighborhood. This year's event featured not only beautifully customized cars but also food, music and art in a celebration of lowrider culture.

By paying homage to such a time-honored tradition in Latino culture, events like the Slow&Low festival tap into something cherished within the Latino mindset. These cars are a part of the living history of the Latino community, just as Latinos themselves are physical reminders of their own past.

So when we see a 1972 Cutlass Supreme rolling down the block and watch as the driver hits the switches to make it bounce, we recall the chicanos who came before us and the pachucos who came before them. We remember those who taught us how a car should be driven " bajito y suavecito.

 Hector Luis Alamo is a contributing editor for Latino Rebels and Gozamos, and an opinion columnist for the Chicago Tribune's RedEye.


Also by Nima Taradji Photography —


Protestors For & Against Kyle Rittenhouse

By Nima Taradji Photography / kenosha, wisconsin — November 18, 2021- Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States: Protestors both in support and against Kyle..


By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Illinois — During 2011, when Occupy Movement was happening in Chicago and elsewhere in the Country, I spent a lot of..

Pilsen Celebrates The Fourth

By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Illinois — After more than a year of seclusion and isolation due to the Pandemic, the City of Chicago lifted all..


By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Illinois — Tearsheets by Nima Taradji

The Protectors

By Nima Taradji Photography / sacred stone camp, north dakota — They are not protestors. In fact, they make sure you understand that they do not like to be referred to as..

No War Protest - Chicago

By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, illinois — Several hundred Chicagoan marched on the streets of Chicago calling for no war in Iran following the United..

Living in Gorelovka

By Nima Taradji Photography / gorelovka, georgia — "The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live..

Hasankeyf: History Flooded

By Nima Taradji Photography / hasankeyf, turkey — Hasankeyf is a 12,000-year-old village on the banks of Tigris River in Southeastern Turkey near the Syrian..

God Child of Xochimilco

By Nima Taradji Photography / Xochimilco, Mexico — Xochimilco, the southern borough of Mexico City, is home to a 430-year-old image of Child Jesus (or..

Red Hot Annie

By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Illinois — Red Hot Annie, the founder and CE-Oh of the Vaudezilla Productions and Burlesque in Chicago since 2008..

Environmental Portraits

By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Illinois — Portaits by Nima Taradji

The Conventions

By Nima Taradji Photography / philadelphia — What I find funny about The Conventions is not really funny, but it is funny. In fact, it would be really..

Shishmaref's Struggle

By Nima Taradji Photography / Shishmaref, Alaska — Shishmaref, Alaska is a remote village of about 600 people located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle,..

Second Line

By Nima Taradji Photography / new orleans, louisiana — One of the most unique and quintessential New Orleans traditions can be found played out every Sunday in..

Guns in Schools

By Nima Taradji Photography / Sidney, Ohio — In Sidney, Ohio school and public safety officials have worked together over the last five years to develop..

Lost Paradise

By Nima Taradji Photography / armenia — "This people has attained riches without usury, and all the honours that can be awarded to slavery..

Lucha Libre

By Nima Taradji Photography / villa park, illinois — In 2015, I started work on a personal project about Mexican Wrestling or Lucha Libre.  This sport is..


By Nima Taradji Photography / Pilsen neighberhood, chicago, illinois — Via Crucis or The Living Stations of the Cross is the re-enactment of Jesus Christ's crucifixion. It has..

In Print

By Nima Taradji Photography — Editorial Publishings


By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Il — The ninth annual C2E2 Expo wraps up at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Comic and..

Lucky Seven

By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago, Il — Lucky Seven refers to baby Ansel. After struggling through losses, Lori Sapio welcomed her "Second Rainbow..

Brave Ordinary Things

By Nima Taradji Photography / Chicago — Brave Ordinary Things This is an ongoing project which started in 2006 and aims to show the concept of that..

Road to Mayhem

By Nima Taradji Photography / USA — Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, political rallies, media control, Democratic National..

At the Eddie Adams Workshop

By Nima Taradji Photography / Calicoon, new york — Family Ingredients Family is a recipe.  It is a place where we teach our children how to cook. Family..
Join us
For more access