Miami, Florida: The Rise Of The Chonga!
Miami, FL: Home of the Miami Heat, J Lo, O.J. Simpson and a new emerging cultural phenomenon, the Hispanic “Chonga”.
If Australia has Sheilas“”, South Africa “Kugels” and England “Slappers”, then Miami has “Chongas” — females of Hispanic descent who overtly publicize their originality with excessive makeup, names emblazoned on giant bamboo loop earrings, tight jeans and Chinese flip flops for good measure.
While the meaning differs from country to country, these terms usually conjure up stereotypical images of each female niche. While in the past it would have been considered derogatory to label groups in this way, it’s often the group itself who now exploit it’s meaning for commercial gain by championing their flaws, excesses and “uniqueness”.
Chongas are a new rival sub-culture to the more established “Chola” Hispanic female from Mexico and Puerto Rico who although similar, have not burned as brightly as their Miami counterpart in the last two years.
How do I know all this? Because my co-worker Charilee educates me constantly on the rising fads and subtleties of Miami life, including Chongas. In fact, Charilee claims she herself used to be a Chonga.
Occasionally when I ask her which nightspot she will be hitting on the weekend she may reply something like this: “One which does not have a high percentage of Chongas.”
Charilee says Chongas typically hang out at spots where dress codes are not enforced, since they prefer to wear Chinese flip flops or sneakers.
“A Chonga’s attire consists of tight jeans with their muffin-tops hanging out and skimpy tops. They usually look as if they got dressed in the dark because they do not color coordinate,” she says.
“They do not speak English or Spanish correctly. Chongas use a combination of English and Spanish — Spanglish — to communicate, which creates a messy dialogue” .
While Charilee outgrew her Chonga phase some of her friends did not. This is a source of amusement to her and she is considering ways to gently break the news to them that this ‘style’ does not rate well with the MIA fashion police.
The Chonga sub-culture appears to be an offshoot of the Cuban community and unique to Miami in the United States. It is thus “Proudly MIA”. It’s true Epicenter may be Hialeah, once a playground of elite Cuban exiles, now a working class community and one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.
But, do not underestimate these Chongas. They are making more waves than you may think with two young prodigies producing one of the biggest YouTube music videos of all time, Chongaliscious, which now has over 4 million page views.
They also recently appeared on CBS and market three websites, including this one, chongagirls.com.
Ironically, 20-year olds, Mimi Dávila and Laura Di Lorenzo, while talented musicians may be cashing in on a sub-culture they do not actually belong to. I say this because they went to school in upmarket Aventura which is not exactly Chonga territory.
Aventura is a wealthly zip code consisting of boutique shopping malls, beautiful canals and glitzy town homes within striking distance of Miami central. It’s possible that Chongas may now transcend both economic and fashion elites but I don’t see the visiting Kardashians stealing any fashion tips just yet.
These girls have exploited their new found fame in much the same way that Die Antwoord in South Africa did. They chose to super-size the stereotype and boost their online resume. In both cases, these groups consider themselves artists first and business people second. But, hey, once you reach 1 million page views on YouTube all kinds of advertising and marketing vistas open up and that spells “C-A-S-H”.
I will leave the last word to that offbeat website, Urban Dictionary, to officially define some of the sub-cultures mentioned above. I had to leave others out as they simply were not fit for print.
Even this blog has limits!
“Chonga” – Miami, FloridaA girl of Hispanic origin, usually between the ages of 12 and 19, but sometimes as young as 8. Primarily found in Miami (most famously, in Hialeah), the chonga is known for her cheap form of dress, a combination of the so-called gangstalook and that of a prostitute, but can vary between the two. She wears ridiculously large hoop earrings large enough to be bracelets, which are usually gold and have their name written in them, and diamond studs high up on her ears. They may also wear thick, gold bangle bracelets in stacks on their arms. Depending on how ghetto she thinks she is, she may wear oversized men’s t-shirts with tight, usually white Brazilian pants, with a colored thong worn underneath that shows through (on purpose). The chonga’s shoe of choice is usually either the traditional black Reeboks, white Nike Air Force Ones, completely black Converse high tops, velvet black ankle boots, or the most popular, Chinese beaded slippers in the same matching color ad their top, and worn wit
“Kugel” – South Africa
A kugel is a special breed of rich middle-aged woman living in Johannesburg. Originally, the word kugel only applied to Jewish women (a kugel a Jewish potato-based dish), but now applies to any spoilt housewife.
Very distinctive characteristics of kugels are: A very nasal accent, calling everyone “doll”, looking down on people who don’t live in the Northern Suburbs, mistreating their housekeepers, spending half their lives talking on a cellphone, intense Botox treatment, wearing leopardskin patterned clothes and driving fancy 4x4s but refusing to take them offroad.
They tend to congregate at Sandton City, talk about shoes, nails and other kugels, cheat on their husbands and only tip 5%. A classic stereotypical kugel is Gwen Anderson from the South African comic strip Madam and Eve.