A Day of the Dead-themed party scheduled for November 3 has earned the ire of San Franciscans as people lobbed accusations of cultural appropriation and insensitivity on the event's Facebook page.
It's described as an "an authentic Dia De Muertos experience" complete with "world-renowned aerial acrobats, theatrical circus performers, and professional Latin dancers performing throughout the night." But wait, there's more. It goes on to say:
Day of the Dead just wouldn’t be the same without great music, and we’re pushing the boat out this year with live percussionist performances and a host of international DJs. Combined with Europe’s largest confetti cannons and CO2 guns, pyrotechnics and fire breathers, Day of the Dead is set to be the most insane spectacle of the year!
Many of the comments on the page are folks tagging other people in that way that you do when you want your friend to check something out but you also don't want to say anything about it. That said, there are more than a few "reviews" with people accusing the event organizers (listed as "Day of the Dead - USA Tour") of being racially insensitive in hosting this event. One reads, "This page is trying to make a profit off our honored dead. There is no link to the community, no link to tradition, no honor for our people's and NO accountability."
Another commenter on the event itself writes, "This event description is extremely tone deaf and offensive. Also, San Francisco already has a well-established and respectful Dia de los Muertos event each year." They're referring to the Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead SF event that happens every year in Garfield Park, where artists are invited to create altars for public viewing. This year, it's taking place on November 2nd, one day before this other, seemingly more party-oriented Day of the Dead event. Thus far, the Day of the Dead party has yet to respond to any reviews or comments, nor has it even unveiled a venue or location, aside from saying it's taking place in San Francisco.
A bit of digging turns up a similar event held in Europe, with tickets there nearly selling out, and another Day of the Dead party held in San Diego in March. The "tour" for this party includes stops in Atlanta on November 4 and Baltimore on November 10. The UK version of their Facebook community has this video posted, which is, one would assume, video of a past event, and a preview of what one can expect at any other parties they throw:
Yeah, so. Aside from a few quick cuts to some candles and altars, and maybe a sugar skull here and there, there are little to no references to the event's actual cultural origins. It's basically a big ol' party. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but when you're basing your party on another culture's somewhat solemn holiday wherein they remember their dead loved ones, using it as an excuse to drink and rave, things get a little crass.
And are they just doing this because Halloween falls on a Tuesday and November 3 is a Friday? This isn't gonna fly here.