Laurent Arretche

Laurent Arretche was born in Arnegi, Behe Nafarroa, and came to Wyoming when he was young to work as a sheepherder. Later, after working in Elko, Nevada, he settled in Chino, California, and joined the Basque community there as the accompanist for their first Basque dance troupe in 1932. Later this group would become the Gauden Bat Basque dance group of Chino and Laurent would be the accordion player for the group along with Noeline Mocho.

He always played the button accordion, playing by ear the songs he learned in the Basque Country. He would play Kontradantza, Mutxikoak, Bolandantza, Fandango, Dantza Luzea, and Pasacalle. Laurent passed away in the 1970s but he left behind a great heritage for dancers and musicians to follow.

Source: Information kindly provided by Jean Louis Cihigoyentche on August 17, 2016.

Photos from the documentary Southern California Klika, by the Chino Basque Basque Club, provided courtesy of Steve Gamboa and Marianna Etcheverria.

1932 - First Chino Dance troupe. From left to right, FP Barcelona, Antoine Irigaray, Ben Amestoy, Ben Bidart, Batista Chilibolost, Fermin Etcheverry, Ben Etchemendy, Laurent Arretche (accordion) and Pierre La Horque.