Best of Roll With Us: Dueñas Car Club

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Dueñas Car Club, an intergenerational group of women and girls, who love lowriders.
Dueñas Car Club, an intergenerational group of women and girls, who love lowriders.  (Courtesy of Dueñas Car Club)

This episode was originally part of the Roll With Us: Community and Culture on Wheels series from 2021. We're revisiting it as a part of our 2023 kickoff series highlighting some of the best stories from our archives.

Dueñas Car Club is a sisterhood that rolls on 100-spoke rims.

Angel Romero is president of the club, which was founded in 2019 and is based in Sunnyvale, California. She's been cruising the strip since she was a kid in the passenger seat of her mother's lowrider.

Three members of the Dueñas Car Club sit in a beige lowrider.
Three members of the Dueñas Car Club. (Miss Lopez Media)

It was through her mother that Angel inherited her passion for cool cars, cruising through the city, and serving the community.

Now, the members of the car club work with local organization to hold toy drives and distribute safety kits. They also pull up to events like car hops and car shows, stunting in full force.

Angel says it's amazing to see the look on the people's faces when their fleet of dope cars driven by women pulls through, but it's the young women whose imaginations they really love to inspire.

This week we discuss coordinating outfits with the color of your lowrider, the criminalization of lowriding culture, and how Angel is passing on her love of cars to the next generation of young women.

The next generation of Dueñas, the Dueñitas.
The next generation of Dueñas, the Dueñitas. (Miss Lopez Media)

Below are lightly edited excerpts of my conversation with Angel Romero.

Angel: Being a woman and having to get yourself ready and get your car ready, it’s a long process. We're up at like 4 or 5 in the morning to hit the shows… We have to wash it, wax it, clean the rims, vacuum it, get everything all nice. That morning we’ll usually get ready, get together, touch up our cars one last time. By that time, sometimes our eyebrows are kind of already coming off [laughs] you know what I mean, they're like, 'half your eyebrows missing!' I'm like, 'oh, I was sweating!' I try to take off the sweat and I took my eyebrows at the same time!

Angel: I think we have it a little bit harder than men in lowriding because we got a lot more to do, I mean, especially when you got to draw on the eyebrows.

Pen: What does Dueñas mean ?

Angel: So Dueñas actually means the female owner. We used to get the ‘oh, it's your daddy's ride. It's your boyfriend's ride or whatever.’ So we want to show that, no, this is our ride. We are the owners of these cars. We bought them. We built them. This is our love, our passion.

Looking at two low Riders, the Dueñas Car Club Logo is seen through a back window.

Pen: What's it like when you pull up to the scene and it's a whole bunch of women in lowriders?

Angel: Especially when we first came out. Oh! Everybody would stop and stare. People couldn't believe it. And you know what? I think the best thing was so many young girls and women coming up to us. Coming up to us and saying, “Oh, my God, is this really your car? Oh, it's awesome. We think it's great.” We get so much support and love from women and I've noticed there's so many more women with cars out there… and I think it’s awesome, I love it.

Pen: Yeah, so Dueñas Car Club has done community service with large organizations in the South Bay, raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research, and organized different toy drives, like the one you did with the San Jose Earthquakes. My question is what's it like when you pull up in the lowriders to do community service work?

Angel: Ahh, sometimes they take a double take, they're not sure what they're seeing sometimes because before [lowriding] was portrayed as a certain type of people, ya know. So we do what we can for our community. A lot of us know what it's like to not have, not have everything, and sometimes even a roof over your head, so we wanna do something to give back.

Angel: ... We’ve helped Envision Network donating toys to them as well. It kind of gives these kids something else to put their minds to not think about, 'hey, I'm in a shelter.' They see all these pretty cars, and they get all excited. And then we show up with toys and gifts for Christmas, they're even more excited!

Angel Romero, the founder of the Dueñas Car Club, takes a selfie in front of her car, through the window you can see the Dueñas logo, it's also on her black t-shirt.
Angel Romero (Courtesy of Angel Romero)

Pen: Aright, I got to ask you, What's your favorite street to cruise down?

Angel: Santa Clara street. San Jose. Yep.

Angel: I would cruise until like 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. My friends always joke with me and they're always like, oh, you cruise till you're the last one. Kind of brings you back to a time where my mom used to take me cruising in her car. Sometimes, sometimes till we fell asleep.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.