Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mexico City's 39th Pride



The last couple of years I've been to Mexico City's Pride (Marcha del Orgullo LGBTTTI de la Ciudad de México) as an observer, running up and down its length like mad, taking photos, and enjoying the crazy diversity of groups participating in it – you can read on the 2015 march here and on the 2016 one here.

This year, things were somewhat different because... I participated myself in the march! Also, just briefly, in Mexico this is called a march, and not a parade – even though it's become more and more celebratory in nature, it does retain an air of a fight for rights. Anyhow, like I said, I marched! With help from colleagues, I got ridiculously close to getting my workplace to participate in an official manner. It was something I had been working on for almost two years. Alas, last minute someone threw in a bureaucratic wrench of low ethics and high cowardice coated in legalese – me and a whole bunch of excited people were left high and dry to march as just our individual selves. 

On the bright side, this was the first time many of those colleagues marched, and their very positive experience will probably mean even more allies when we attempt an official participation next year. And I got to march alongside very good and loving friends, as well as my team members! And since the Jewish group (Guimel) was just a few steps behind us, I could even slide into and out of both groups and participate and support doubly!      





Some 200,000 people participated. Of all walks of life. Of all orientations and genders. Which is why I love this march so much. And now I can say I was part of it!

And since I was in such an energetic mood, I can say the partying didn't stop until next day! I still had a post-march celebration with a cousin of mine. It was nice to reconnect with family – probably the only other member of my very big family that is out as non-straight – and also to allow myself to be a bit silly and get a tad tipsy? LOL 

And afterwards? A fetish party at an underground club called Foro Normandie! The music was awesome, as it usually is there, and it was too much fun dancing with people dressed in fetish gear of many kinds. Sexiness and great music and fabulous setting, yeah! 




And next day? Brunch with "bottomless mimosas" at a boutique hotel (Stara). Great food, good company, a bit of a hangover...

So, I may not have as many cool pics as previous years (OK, I don't have practically ANY good pics – the downside to marching?), but my Pride this year had activism that'll make it better for others, lots of camaraderie, quite some sexiness, plenty of partying, delicious food, ideas and strategies for next year... Not bad at all. Not. At. All.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ziburta y los Esclavos del Ritmo



Because why not spend a Saturday night with free mezcal, hearing a local band (Ziburta y los Esclavos del Ritmo) singing in English, Spanish and Yiddish, and then dancing at the end – with the singer's Lithuanian bube no less! – to a piece from Die Dreigroschenoper?  

Friday, June 16, 2017

on Mexico City's queer Spanish... Escándala!



I've been wanting to write this entry for quite a while, but I needed a picture of the ad you see above and, when I decided I was going to write this, I couldn't find any of them anymore! Luckily, I finally found one at a Metrobús stop. And what is it? It's an ad for an LGBTQ website called "Escándala".

Since I came back to Mexico City I've noticed many changes – I mean, obviously, I was away for some 12 years! And one of the more interesting ones has been language. Especially queer language. Unsurprisingly, Mexico City has had a queer sociolect for a long time. It went from the most simple – changing adjectives and nouns to the gender opposite to the speaker ("estoy preocupadA" said by a male, for example) – to more strange ones, like adding a "ts" sound at the end of words ending in "r" and pronouncing that "r" as in American English (amoRTS instead of amor). But these traits could are almost even sound archaic by now.

Nowadays queer Mexico City people have gone very creative with language. In addition to that  – now less used – change of final "r" to "rts", they have embraced a Mexico City pronunciation of final "r" which, to the untrained ear, may sound kind of like a "sh". In truth, this pronunciation involves a rather rare sound that Mexico City seems to share with some varieties of Turkish: ɾ̞̊.

Let me try to explain that very strange International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol there and its sound. The sound starts like a normal tap "r" (as in "pero", not as in "perro"; that's the ɾ IPA symbol) but it only approximates the gum ridge (thereby failing to make a tap; the IPA symbol for the tongue being somewhat lower than expected is ◌̞) and it is pronounced without voice or vibration of the vocal cords (which gives it a quality similar to "sh", instead of sounding more like "zh"; the symbol for devoicing is ◌̥, which can be placed above the consonant if needed). Anyhow, like I said, for the untrained ear it simply sounds kind of "sh". You can see people representing this sound by spelling it "rs" ("amors" instead of "amor").

But they've also expanded on the use of female endings ("preocupadA" instead of "preocupadO") and nouns ("amigA" instead of "amigO"). This queer slang now even replaces many "o" sounds with "a" sounds, not worrying if that creates a non-existing word or even an ungrammatical one!

  • "¡Dias mía!" instead of "¡Dios mío!" ("Oh my god!"). And no, it doesn't turn it into "Oh my goddess!", which would be "Diosa mía!"
  • "¡Escándala!" instead of "¡Escándalo" ("What a scandal!"). I mean, "scandal" is naturally genderless, right? It's like writing "scandalette" or something akin!
  • "Vamas" instead of "Vamos" (Let's go). Again, "let's goette"? "let's goess"? 
There are tons of examples like these. And plenty of them in that website I mentioned (Escándala). Totally ungrammatical. And absolutely delightful and fun, adding a whole new layer to language expression. And should the Real Academia de la Lengua Española raise its ugly head and threaten with excommunication, you should just simply reply – accompanied by dramatic finger wagging – "No, mi ciela" (I'm afraid not, "sweetheartess").

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

the Queer States of America

It's Pride month! Like many other places in the world, Mexico City is seeing its share of events, parties, festivities, gatherings, and whatnot to celebrate the city's crazy sexual diversity and to promote respect for all of us minorities who are also part of this megalopolis.

And the Embassy of the United States of America was not going to be left behind, especially after the participation of Amb. Roberta S. Jacobson last year in Mexico City's Pride march! So June 2nd they turned their usual Friday happy hour into an LGBTQ happy hour, inviting other diplomatic and government personnel to participate, having the Mexico team of "It gets better" doing interviews, with the gay choir of Mexico City (I didn't even know we had one!) performing some songs, with rainbow coloured drinks.


Me and two colleagues had an absolute blast, meeting people, dancing, in a most inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere... It was one hell of a party! And it was fun seeing people on the street looking our way and wondering "but isn't that an Embassy? what's going on there!?" LOL

And who knows, this party and the participation of not just the US Embassy but of some other 15 embassies in this year's Pride march may be announcing a turning point in how government is involved in LGBTQ issues... (more on that soon, hopefully!).

More like these, please?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Coyoacán's Iglesia de la Concepción

Wow, I have countless posts about Mexico City's Coyoacán neighbourhood, an old, colonial style and very colourful part of the city. I have written about squares, and churches, and streets, and foods, and cantinas... And I have never ever posted a picture of my favourite church in the whole neighbourhood – the Iglesia de la Concepción (better known as the Iglesia de la Conchita). 

I must say one reason was that this early 16th century church had been under renovation since forever, as some ominous massive cracks had appeared and it did seem like the building could split open like an egg shell any day. But after our Culhuacán visit (see my previous post) we payed my sis and her family a visit in Coyoacán, which is not that far from Culhuacán. The church's renovation is over!

So, just some pics of this church, erected by Hernán Cortés himself, in one of the oldest and most traditional neighbourhoods of Mexico City, boasting a gorgeous baroque (and formerly very colourful, with deep blues and reds) facade with local tezontle stone and native inspiration, and simply my favourite church in this area (and probably the whole city), surrounded by the quaintest of parks:



Friday, June 09, 2017

the former convent of Culhuacán

A couple of weeks ago we visited this fascinating place in Iztapalapa, in the south of Mexico City – the Exconvento de Culhuacán (the former convent of Culhuacán). Though it's a bit of a trip from the centre of the city, the subway takes you to just a few blocks from the convent!

The walk from the subway station to the convent is quite interesting, as you get the feeling (as with so many areas in the south of the city) that you're in a different town (which it was in the past). You walk some winding streets, there are small shops and food stands (oh the cacti salads and the guacamole we saw!), we even saw a coal shop?

The convent was built in 1607, by the Augustinians, and it's a beautiful island of peace. And, on top of that, in colonial times it also served as a languages seminar! The priests had to evangelize in local tongues, right? So this was a place of study and learning for those! Amazing, right?





But the reason we were here was not because of the architecture, although it's one of those places where you can really feel you're in an extremely old place – the stones, the floor, the spaces... it all speaks to you in centuries-old language. We were here mostly because of its famous murals, of which there are plenty!

The walls at the ground level were filled with curious scenes of monastic life, with gorgeous shades of blue...




And at the junction with the ceiling, surrounded by stretches of white angels and beasts, you had all these images of martyrs being shot arrows, being trampled by horses, and what not.





The columns holding the arches facing the inner courtyard were also full of curious images of martyrdom, like this beheaded man...



The upper floor had some stunning and exceedingly detailed murals, about the adoration of the Magi, as well as the entrance of Christ to Jerusalem.






An inner chamber had this pattern that resembled stars of David. That same chamber featured before and after photographs of the convent. Hats off to the restorers, this place was in such a sad state just some decades ago! 



The convent also has a small museum upstairs. It's not fantastic, but there are a couple of interesting items, like a record of births, written in very old Spanish, as well as a very cute map of the region, where you can recognize different areas of Mexico City which, back then, were independent localities. 



Before we left, we had a look at the cemetery right behind the convent. A curious place, as they seem to have run out of space and you can see tombs that have a bunch of crosses for different people, one behind the other, tightly packed. There was also this tomb of a child (or of children? again, more than one cross on top), as numerous toys had been placed on top. A very curious place indeed.





The coolest thing is that not that many people not from the area know about this place! I mean, Mexico City and all of its surrounding areas are just so full of these treasures! It's insane! Gotta keep exploring...

Monday, June 05, 2017

Die Antwoord!!!

I wasn't really aware of the existence of Die Antwoord until I saw a photography exhibition by Roger Ballen that also featured a video he helped produce for Die Antwoord. I recognized the video, totally loved it, and that was the gateway for listening more of this very unusual South-African rap group. 

Sure, I was not that crazy about all their songs, but there were plenty that had this rough, quirky, unique South-African style called Zef, and I became a fan. And when I heard they were coming to Mexico City, I bought tickets as soon as they became available!



This was probably the biggest concert I had been to in over a decade. But the place (the Pepsi Center) was pretty good, and I really enjoyed standing with all the people and jumping and just having a hell of a good time! And of course Ninja and Yo-landi (the rappers that form the group) didn't fail to play some favourites like Baby's on Fire, Fatty Boom Boom and I Funk U Freeky – so good, so good!





Even the habibi, despite the big crowd, the occasional beer shower from somebody's glass, and the whiffs of pot that would waft our way, was excited and enjoying his wilder "Zef" side.



Total success. Pure madness.

Friday, June 02, 2017

a bit of Persia in Mexico City

One of my favourite countries in the world to visit is Iran, where I've travelled around twice already. I think their mosques are some of the most beautiful in the whole Islamic world, I love the kindness and friendliness of its people, I love their love of poetry, and a long list of other things I love. So, when a friend told me the Iranian Embassy in Mexico was opening a fashion exhibition at the Museo Nacional de las Culturas (National Museum of Cultures), I definitely had to go!



It started with the usual – many and long opening words. But afterwards – and as a surprise to me, because I didn't know – there was a brief concert of Persian music! How awesome is that? I was so happy listening to this! The memories...




As for the exhibition, I had completely misunderstood what it was about. For some reason, I thought I was in for a photography exhibition of how female fashion had evolved in time. Which seemed fascinating to me, because in my two visits to Iran I could witness how women were always pushing the envelope of what was allowed, showing just a tad more hair, wearing sleeves that went just below the elbow, putting on a dash of makeup... But I was completely wrong, this was an exhibition of dresses by some designers. Which wasn't bad. But it was sort of anticlimactic and, as you can see, I didn't even bother taking photos.

But what we did get, which rounded up nicely the concert experience, was sugary treats! There was a mint drink, sweet as hell – as expected, of course! And gaz! A sort of Iranian nougat, this one came with pistachios! Yay! So lucky! 




Who'd have thought one Sunday we'd be enjoying music and sweets from that land we visited so many years ago!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Strandbeesten!

We're damn lucky to live in the centre of Mexico City. Not only are there countless museums, special exhibitions and events to keep you busy without ever having to leave the area, but once in a while it's a true gem that arrives practically at your doorstep, like Theo Jansen's Strandbeesten! At Laboratorio Arte Alameda, which is a convent-cum-museum a couple of blocks from us!



Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist that's been building "beach beasts" (strandbeesten) for some 30 years, using simply materials but incredibly complex engineering. Theo describes his creations as living beings that reproduce by infecting our brains and making other humans bring more to life. His strandbeesten have been "evolving" with time, developing better walking capabilities, better interaction with their environment so they won't drown and so they won't be carried away by the winds of the beaches they "inhabit", they've developed "muscles" and "stomachs" that keep them moving even when the air they "feed" on stops blowing... 

The exhibition we visited even had an evolutionary chart of all of Theo's creations! He really does take seriously the whole evolution aspect! As a matter of fact, what you see below, bar the last one, are basically fossils (why, of course! these are species that preceded the current one, right?).








The most recent species seems to be this one here. The "stomachs" store compressed air and, once the wind stops blowing, simple physics lets the air out once more and makes this strange creature move forward in brief, tentative steps.



Just seeing these creatures by themselves, static, would have been enough. But twice a day they inject compressed air into the strandbeest and it moves! It's amazing how these simple automatons capture our imagination and attention! They also have a fossil that you can operate manually by pushing it, and people were definitely lining up for that too!



I never thought I'd see a strandbeest up close. And having a better understanding of Theo's views of his own strandbeesten made it so much better. Loved this. LOVED this.

Monday, May 29, 2017

House of Apocalipstick's No Ball

As I've mentioned before, we're always on the lookout for more alternative scenes and events. Luckily, the habib found out – through an artist he follows on Instagram – that there was going to be some sort of competition and party by House of Apocalipstick, a vogueing group! The ball was called, ironically, No Ball, and took place in a rather nondescript club in a slightly sketchy part of town, called Paradise Club.

I had seen people vogueing at different gay and gay-friendly events here in Mexico City, so the opportunity to see them all gathered seemed too amazing! By the way, vogueing started as a very stylized dance that originated with African American drag queens in the 60s, and which in a sense imitated the poses seen in fashion magazines like Vogue. You can see an example of this in Madonna's famous video "Vogue". Vogueing has kept evolving since and today incorporates newer styles (like Vogue Fem) which in turn incorporate new steps (like the Duckwalk, which you'll recognize in the video at the bottom).

Needless to say, we had an amazing time at this extremely queer space, watching people do catwalks, competing through their dance, and even mocking the heteronormative business world with a very satirical "business catwalk". 





Now, the light was not the best for taking a video, nor was the angle. But still, this should give you some idea of what was going on there:



This was a real breath of fresh air for us. Will definitely keep our eyes on House of Apocalipstick from now on!

Friday, May 26, 2017

the City of Angels – odds and ends

So, lemme see... what's left to say about Puebla? Well, there was this bazaar we went to on our very last morning. Lots of old stuff, some of it true antiques. In fact, as we were heading for some cold drinks (it was so hot) we passed by a gorgeous old radio! Like, those that were really tall, with numerous knobs for tuning to different kinds of stations and even different cities! I really wanted it! Of course, such a piece didn't come cheap and, once the owner told me how much it was, I had no choice but to go back to getting my cold drink. No amount of haggling could have brought it down to an affordable price for me!




There were some Huichol artisans by the bazaar, too. The Huichol people live in northern Mexico, and they're famous for their delicate and intricate bead work, usually covering animal figures in dazzling and colourful patterns. And they were working on their stuff right there!



Finally, remember that klezmer concert we went to at a synagogue in Mexico City? Well, that group came from Puebla, right? And we came across them by one of the main squares! So, here you have them again, the 100% Poblano and traditional-klezmer connoisseurs Grupo Klezmorino!



As you can see, we had an amazing time in Puebla. I'm really grateful the habib decided we visit on that May long weekend. Looking forward to exploring more of this unfathomably diverse and rich country that is home!