Friday, September 26, 2014

queering it up in Mexico City's centre!

Our second weekend in Mexico City - a couple of weeks ago - was more proof of how fun this city can be, as we did some queer bar hopping in Mexico City's Historic Centre!

This city has become pretty open.  Marriage equality has been a reality for a number of years now. The National Council for Discrimination Prevention has done plenty of campaigning to educate people about discrimination against ethnic, linguistic and sexual minorities, among many others. There isn't a single day I don't see a same-gender couple holding hands or even kissing on the street. And Mexico City's government is not shy about talking about gender, transsexuality, native peoples and the like in public spaces like the subway.   All in all, there is a visible progress and openness.

So it's no surprise that one of Mexico City's streets in the historic core - República de Cuba Street - is full of queer bars.  BTW, I prefer to call them queer as opposed to gay, as it's obvious that, though the clientele is mostly male and gay, the places are welcoming of everybody.  And one of my buddies was up for showing us a night of good, queer fun right there.

The (bad quality) photo above was taken at our first stop.  Well, technically, it was the second, because we had had a drink at another queer-friendly bar in a different part of town, but it was our first stop in the historic core, and it was way more interesting than the first place.   Anyhow, this place is called El Marrakech.  And it had a couple of rather peculiar pieces.  The first one was the hood of a Beetle Volkswagen (at one point a ubiquitous sight in the city) with a bump and with the word "Putazo!" written on it.  "Putazo" means, in its more common sense, "a strong hit" or "a strong blow".  In another sense, it could be interpreted as "überfag"or "überhomo".   Besides the Beetle hood, there was the life-sized photograph above, of a guy with countless gay slurs on his skin, most of them truly offensive.  

What wes there to like about these two items? in a place like this? Well, in a culture that, despite all the progress made, is still a bit homophobic and queerphobic, these items symbolize - whether the owner intended it or not - an important appropriation of slurs, which is an empowering action often performed by discriminated minorities.  Unfortunately, this appropriation of slurs was simply beyond the comprehension of countless - mostly straight - Mexicans who, during the soccer World Cup, ardently and aggressively defended their right to scream "puto" ("faggot", "fag") to the goalies of opposing teams...

Anyhow, social discussion aside, the place was packed, the music was good and varied if a bit too loud, the feeling somewhat lefty and alternative, no posing whatsoever was to be seen, and local beer absolutely plentiful.  And people were having the best of times, even climbing unto the bar to dance! Apparently, there are stripper and drag queen shows, but we moved to our next stop before we say any...

La Purísima, our second stop, is a slightly more upscale (or less downscale?) version of El Marra (as people usually call El Marrakech).  And the theme is genius - the Holy Virgin Mary!  There are images of the virgin, crosses, sacred hearts, and yet another sign of appropriation of a slur - a big neon sign spelling "puto" in capital letters.  And lots of fun, of course.  By now we had had two beers, and a mezcal.  

Our last stop - and it's a shame I didn't take a good pic - was El Viena, a cantina that exists, apparently, since the 1950's and where gay people would go to for a simple beer.  Today, it's a place with a clientele that goes from the youngest legally possible all the way to the oldest who'd still enjoy going out for a night of fun.  And there's plenty of dancing here, mostly Mexican and Latin-American rhythms. Needless to say, the place is both super friendly and very flirty.  And it's got a super fair share of great dancers!  And we had another mezcal.  (that stuff's become so popular!) 

And that was just three of I don't know how many queer places in the area!  I'm liking this city's evolution.  Looking forward to seeing more!

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