Cruising low and slow down the streets of Chicano San Diego is the city’s only all-women’s lowrider car club, The Unique Ladies. Pat and Sherry turn heads for their super slick and tricked out vehicles, and cause a stir by challenging a gender norm–where traditionally, men rule the road, and women take the sidelines. It’s been a constant struggle to keep their club alive, however they’ve managed to make it to their fifth year. Now the ladies want to expand their club, inviting another lady lowrider to their club, Linda. The transition isn’t proving easy, as the lowrider scene is still resistant to women taking the driver’s seat.
The Unique Ladies is a short documentary aimed to expose an audience to Lowrider culture localized around women’s work and participation. Using a hybrid style of verite footage with interwoven interviews, The Unique Ladies takes you on a funky ride down the streets of Chicano San Diego. Punctuated with multimedia animation and cut to a bass thumping soundtrack, the audience engages with lowrider culture through the eyes of Chicana cruisers. Filmed entirely in the densely Mexican American populated city of San Diego, The Unique Ladies specifies it’s lowrider community while highlighting that this sport maintains variations in it’s geographical practice. While focusing on women within the practice of lowriding, The Unique Ladies closely engages with women who are actively resisting passive roles in the lowrider hierarchy, it is through their practice of lowriding that they consistently contest their exclusion.
Visually documenting women’s participation in lowriding is transformative, it challenges current notions of male domination in this car culture while focusing on the contributions women have made to its practice. Car shows and magazines construct demeaning and subservient roles for women, thus creating limited space for women to participate. As an example of localized working class feminism, this film challenges these notions and critiques lowriding’s male hegemony while highlighting the trials and tribulations women lowriders encounter when navigating in a highly contested space.