Southern California Klika

1967 - The first formation of the southern California Klika. From left to right: August Garat, Pierre Larrabure, Pele Berterretche, Pierre Paris, Pete Chilibolost, Laurent Telleria, Laurent Arretche, JL Indart, Xabier Aphessetche, Peyo Aphessetche, Pierre Arla and Michel Plaa.

The southern California Klika is based in Chino, San Bernardino County, California. It is one of four Klikas formed in California by Basque immigrants from Iparralde.

In 1966, Louis and Jean Louis Indart went to the Los Banos Basque Picnic. Jean Louis was impressed when he saw the San Francisco Klika march, because he used to be in the Klika in France. When he came back to Chino, he proposed to his friends Pele Berterretche, Xabier Aphessetche, Pierre Larraburu and Jean Leon Larraburu, (who were all from the village of Irisarri in Nafarroa Beherea) that they should form a Klika in Chino. All these friends where in the same Klika in the old country, so they thought it would be natural to create a Klika in their new country. As was the case with the San Francisco Klika, the previous experience of the immigrants made it much easier to put together a band.

In 1967, with the backing of this group, Jean Luis Indart presented his idea to the Southern California Basque Club. The idea was well received in the Basque community and soon they were ready to acquire bugles and drums for the musicians. For that purpose some of the founders went to Tijuana to get the firsts instruments. As time went on, family members and friends in the old country would send instruments to America. The quality of the instruments from the Basque country was found to be superior to the ones purchased in Mexico.

The first year the Klika practiced regularly, taking turns playing at each other’s houses. By Sunday, July 7, 1967, the Klika was ready to perform for the picnic which brought together the the seven California Basque clubs in La Puente, southern California, an event where 2000 Basques were expected. 

In 1968, the klika had a Makilari, Jean Dalia from Bakersfield, as well as a Zapurras to lead the band, Prosper Garateix and Marcel Etchevers. In the history of the Southern California klika, have been five makilaris: Jean Dalia, Pierre Larrabure, Frank Camou, Dominic Camou, and Jacob Jaureguy (actual).

Pierre Labourre second makillari of the Southern California Klika.

 The club picnics always began with a procession of dancers and the Klika, as well as the Klika singing Gernikako Arbola. The Southern California Klika added “the Klika Waltz”, to the traditional repertoire of Klika songs.  

2008 – Klika in America celebration in the 2008 NABO convention. Poster designed by Stella Arambel.

At the 2008 NABO convention, the band paid tribute to all the Klikas in the country, including players from San Francisco and Bakersfield. Since 1968, the Klikas of California have traditionally performed at two picnics, the southern California and the Chino Basque Club. They also perform for Basque Easter, and other festivities.

It is interesting to note that the Klikas of Southern California have a generational presence, bringing together several families of different ages to play in the Klika, and perpetuating this cultural treasure for the future.

Source: Information from the documentary Southern California Klika, by the Chino Basque Club. Special thanks to Steve Gamboa and Marianna Etcheverria.