Estrella de Pacifico plays banda, a style of horn-driven Mexican polka music that originated in the late 1800s in Sinaloa. Bandas traditionally have from 12 to 18 members who all dress the same. Tuba player Dario Velasco says his banda has three different polyester suits — black, white, and orange. Everyone has to color-coordinate. “If you wear the wrong color, you get fined.”
American bandas are structured the same as Mexican. One person owns the band and it is up to him who is in the band and where the group gets booked. “The band pays for the suits,” says Velasco. He says his owner has over $6000 invested in suits and band equipment.