'I'm No Longer Here' Preview: What is the Cholombiano subculture explored in Netflix's new Mexican crime drama?
Netflix's upcoming Mexican drama 'I'm No Longer Here' is not your regular migrant coming-of-age story. Revolving around protagonist Ulises, the story kicks off when drug wars prompt the cartel boss to leave his hometown and move to Queens, New York. Along with life as he knew it, Ulises' lifestyle also falls apart amid yearning for his urban Monterrey tribe and an in general homesickness and soon his Latin subculture is seen as a fashion commodity by people around him in this foreign land.
Ulises is your quintessential Cholombiano, whose sleek hairstyles are too intense to go unnoticed and their taste in music, a prime element of their slowly disappearing subculture. Perhaps this is why director Fernando Frias explores the culture and lifestyle of these kids so passionately in his film at least that's what the trailer reveals.
The video begins with Ulises's mother tired of his loud music and intense lifestyle, yelling at him for waking up the baby. She asks Ulises to head out and of course, all of this is before the pivotal shift to the land of dreams, but it's crucial because we get a taste of Ulises' life as a Cholombiano. Like most subcultures, the Cholombianos are reported to have found their origins within the shared taste for Cumbia music. Taking off and exploding in the Mexican city of Monterrey - where Ulises is from - the subculture emerged in the 80s and 90s; sadly, they happen to be misunderstood as aggressive, when there couldn't be people more peaceful than the Cholombianos.
This Cumbia music - slow, melodious and peaceful - incorporates typically Spanish tunes with African beats and dates all the way back to the '60s. As more and more people were drawn by the beats perfect for slow dancing, a passionate fanbase was birthed and soon they began blending the music with their own, authentic style statement which might come off as quite striking at a first glance. The name Cholombianos was coined pretty late, in 2011, a documentary segment for Vice. Author Amanda Watkins also released an eponymous book highlighting the cultural migration represented by the unique style adopted by these Cholombiano teens - rife with the elements of border cities in Mexico.
Also touted for their anti-establishment messages, the Cholombiano style involves a preppy-casual vibe. Think oversized plaid or tropical print button-up shirts paired with equally baggy cargo pants, the signifying element being handcrafted accessories as a personal shoutout to their subculture and tribe. It is however the hairstyle patterns followed by the Cholombianos that seem to attract the most attention - something that Ulises too suffers in the wake of his poignant culture shock.
Sleek and plastered to the sides of the face, these outlandish hairstyles are sported mostly by the males in the subculture and look like there's a month's supply of hairgel working its magic at once. It's obvious, getting their hair to comply in those marvelous slicks, curls and shaved patterns is a time-consuming test of patience and artistry. With slicked sideburns, tails in the end, spikes and floating shapely patterns at the back, the Cholombiano hairstyle is truly something to marvel at. Some of them even prop a hat atop - your 'messy bun' counterpart, if you will, to flaunt an awkward but framed look and Frias's unique take on the culture exploited by people on the other side of the Mexican border will hopefully make for a compelling watch.
'I'm No Longer Here' aka 'Ya no estoy aqui' premieres on Netflix this Wednesday, May 27, at 12.31 am PT.