A Mexico City Queer Bar Resists Attacks with Love and Cumbia
Los Angeles Times
July 2, 2019, Words by Kate Linthicum
Overnight, La Cañita became one of the most vibrant bars in the city, a gathering place for pioneers on the front lines of music, art and fashion. One night, a psychedelic cumbia band would have a crowd of young people twirling on the dance floor. The next, a DJ spinning deconstructed reggaeton would pack the bar with outrageously dressed club kids. It was crowded and sweaty and free.
A sticker in the club’s grimy bathroom read: “Death to the macho.” On the wall above the toilet somebody scrawled: “The future is trans.”
“La Cañita is a space for the weirdos, for the outcasts,” said Dolores La Bacha Black, a performer with a collection of bouffant wigs who hosted a weekly karaoke night.
“We live with constant violence,” La Bacha said, noting that Mexico ranks second in the world in killings of transgender people, with 68 slain last year. “This is a place for us to have a nice time without fear of machista violence.”
But that sense of sanctuary was fragile from the start...
She Grew Up Throwing Punches at School. Now, She's Shaping Tijuana's Women's Boxing Scene
The Lily, Washington Post
June 5, 2019, Words by Claire Mullen
Tijuana has a long history of boxing. In the days of U.S. Prohibition, people would drive down from Hollywood to drink, bet on horses, gamble and watch boxing matches on the other side of the border. The city is also conveniently located about six and three hours, respectively, from Las Vegas and Los Angeles, two of the most well-known boxing centers in the United States. Fighters from all over Mexico have moved to Tijuana to launch or further their careers, such as Julio César Chávez, one of the country’s most decorated boxers.
“In Tijuana, it’s like taco stands: There is a boxing gym on every corner,” Enriquez explains. “Boxing is part of the culture.”
However, it is a culture that has largely excluded women. Professional female fights were illegal in Tijuana until 1998; a commonly held belief was that women would damage their reproductive organs taking part in the sport. Even at the highest levels, women are still paid far less than men, according to various people in the boxing world. They are less sought out and less promoted by managers, and they are given fewer opportunities to fight and train.
Rómulo Quirarte has been a coach in Tijuana’s boxing scene for over four decades. He’s famous for having trained Chávez, as well as many others. At his gym in the Zona Río district of Tijuana, dozens of amateur and professional boxers come to learn from him every day.
Enriquez grew up knowing Quirarte’s sons. When she was in high school, she began to pester Quirarte to allow her to train in his gym. He turned her down. He said that he didn’t train women — he didn’t have changing rooms or bathrooms for them, and he thought they would distract the boys. It just wasn’t possible, he said...
Quentin & Charly
Perfect Strangers Magazine
Issue Two — June 2019, Interview by Ellen Freeman
Ellen: Tell me how you met.
Charly: You know the app Grindr? We talked on there for months, and then we had our first date, and one week later we were living together.
Quentin: I gave him some French wine and then he fell in love.
Charly: His apartment was having water problems, so that helped — very Mexico.
Ellen: Just a few months later, your home was destroyed in the September 19th, 2017 earthquake. What was that experience like for you?
Quentin: The day before the earthquake, Charly told me he was going to work from home. I received one message from him right after the shaking, saying everything was OK, then all communications went down. So for hours I was trying with every phone at my disposal and there was no way to get in touch with him, even though I was able to get in touch with my family in Belgium. Friends here were asking me if I was alive, because they had heard that our building had collapsed. For four hours, I thought that it could be true that Charly was not here anymore. The fact that I could lose him made me realise how deep my feelings were.
Charly: For me it was what came after. We were homeless, we had to get a new place, and we thought that we lost all our things. In the end we recovered almost everything, but going through that process together was very important.
Quentin: We worked as a team through the big questions. In that kind of moment, you have to be really organised and clear in your ideas. We definitely had fights during that process, but in the end we were a very good and effective team.
Charting A Greener Future For Mexico’s Aztec Floating Gardens
March 16, 2018, WOrds by Kimberlee Cordova
The otherworldly landscape of ahuejotes (willows), soaring white herons, and brightly-colored trajineras transporting whooping weekenders create a scene so beguiling that it’s easy to overlook the fact that Xochimilco is an area of social and ecological conflict on the brink of extinction.
Both one of the poorer boroughs of Mexico City and a place of living history, it’s the last place in the city built on a lake where the water still flows. It’s also home to the last of the man-made islands that supported multiple pre-Hispanic kingdoms and communities established in and around the ancient lakes.
And soon it may be gone.
Without ecological intervention, experts give Xochimilco roughly 30 years. The combination of contaminated water, the tilt of the city as it sinks, lack of interest from youth in a chinampero way of life, and urban growth are all slowly chipping away at the floating islands. In the last 30 years, Xochimilco has lost 20-25% of the preserved area to housing encroachment.
It’s an incendiary combination. Mexican law favors tenants and squatters, 90% of the remaining chinampas are abandoned, and politicians in these areas are looking to form voter blocs. Though the area is technically protected as a UNESCO world heritage site and as an ecological zone, corruption, and complacency make it easy to turn a blind eye in favor of votes. The phenomena of people arriving at the chinampas and secretly building illegal concrete structures under the cover of corn stalks have become a local axiom: “Siembran maiz y cosechan casas” (“They sow corn and they harvest houses”)...
Mexico City Becoming A Major Player For Global Artists
February 13, 2018, Words by William Savinar
Mexico City has long been a home to the arts, but it has only been in the last few years that it has garnered such astounding levels of international attention for contemporary art and design by international committees and publications. The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design designated Mexico City the world design capital for 2018, stating, “Mexico City has a powerful story to share on the world stage, as a model for other megacities around the world using design to tackle the challenges of urbanization and ensure a more livable city.” The New York Times listed Mexico City as number one on their list of “ 52 Places to Go in 2016,” regrettably citing “the Mexican peso hitting record lows against the dollar” as a reason for visiting.
These accolades, of course, contrast with what many still think of Mexico — a country plagued by a troubling drug war — even though, for over a decade, Mexico City has not seen levels of violence comparable to other regions of Mexico. It is the seat of the federal government, a no-go zone for perpetrators of violence elsewhere. Although a few areas of the city experience a degree of crime, including the disappearance of women and journalists, those are not the areas where internationally recognized contemporary art is on display.
“The center of art is moving to the edge [of the world]. The center is no longer New York or London, it is Mexico City,” says Arturo Delgado, founder of the gallery Almanaque Fotografíca, in the bohemian neighborhood of Roma. “This event represents committed projects by committed artists beyond old boundaries of nationalism.”
The tradition of art inhabiting formerly abandoned structures like Frontón has been common in Mexico City, where underground art spaces can be found in dilapidated buildings in neighborhoods that are often overlooked, such as Doctores, Obrera, and the edge of the city’s historic downtown. They are often operated by artists whose buildings and art events risk being condemned or shut down by police.
Smaller independent contemporary art galleries in Mexico City can be seen in neighborhoods, such as Roma and Condesa, several of which were represented at the Material Art Fair. Francisco Cordero-Oceguera, founder of Lodos gallery, says the fair is “a Mexico City art event, [that’s] definitely good for the art scene.” Founder of Lulu gallery, Chris Sharp, agrees. “The fair is for discovering new, emerging artists. People get to see artists here that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter. There is a raw energy here,” Sharp says.