I recently went to Tijuana, Mexico. Why? Because I wanted to get drunk for cheap, man. Just kidding. I went for All My Friends Festival, the Otras Obras gallery opening, and some other cultural events. It’s kind of like the marriage weekend of three cultural projects all exploding in Tijuana.
What did I find out? Well, Tijuana is a complicated border city that runs on a different time schedule than New York. I found out that Tijuana is full of passionate, welcoming people who contemplate the politics of their nation (and city) on a daily basis and are willing to talk about it. I found out that sometimes, you will get a dick in the face, and yes, you can get prescription pills for next to nothing, but the acid is bad. I found out that Tijuana is rough, culturally rich, and warm. I found out that it’s a city in flux, which has caused a re-invention of art and culture from the youth. I found out that I want to go back, because interesting things are happening there of which people outside the city are totally unaware.
Planning to make the trek down to TJ? Heed these words of wisdom and warning: The Noisey Guide to Tijuana...
WALK ACROSS THE BORDER
Driving across the border is boring. You can do that anywhere. But when it comes to trekking into Mexico, you can actually join the crowd and cross the hill that legally separates San Diego and Tijuana by foot in the time it takes you to finish one American Spirit.
CLUB LA SEXTA
One of many gems from Club La Sexta's Facebook page.
Club La Sexta is the best drag club in Baja, California. Located right on the main strip (underneath the most beautiful ancient multi-bar, Leyva Disco), Club La Sexta hosts drag shows that are raw and fabulous. The queens do lip-syncing routines to famous pop stars like Christina Aguilera, Shakira, and Mexican singers while music videos play behind them. There's a mirror on the side of the bar, and the queens peep at themselves between their sets. The Kings are pretty good too, and they always come with a guitar. However, they do have one male stripper who is not in drag. When I went to Club La Sexta, the male stripper had stuffed his ass and was wearing underwear with the word “FUCK” across his penis. He singled me out and decided to dance all over me. I resisted, but he forcefully uncrossed my arms, pushed my breasts together with his hands and thrust himself into my cleavage. If it had not been for those “FUCK” underpants, his dick would have hit me in the face.
Tito’s has the best fish and shrimp tacos you will ever have in your entire life. After a local I befriended took me to Tito’s, I could not stop thinking about the tacos. I seriously counted tacos like sheep to try to get my drunk, hungry self to sleep that evening. I’m still thinking about those tacos. After I left Tijuana, I had to attend a group dinner in Los Angeles at a trendy, trying-to-be-up-scale taco bar. I spent $40 and it was whatever. Tito’s will leave you full, happy and smiling for until $3.
BAR MI PUEBLO (OR “PUEBLITO”)
This place may look like every other craphole dive you have seen in your life, but walk all the way through to the back and you will be greeted with even more of a craphole dive, but it’s great. It’s a mad house. There's graffiti all over, and not all good graffiti, but fucking Sharpie. The patio is not even a patio at all, but the frame of a two-story house that has been cut down the middle. Kids are climbing through it, jumping off the floors and occasionally breaking bottles. One guy told me that someone’s grandmother once lived in the half-cut-open house, but I wasn't really listening because I was too busy tagging my band’s name on the wall in big, drunk letters.
ALL MY FRIENDS MUSIC FESTIVAL
All My Friends was started three years ago by local kids Marta Preciado, Pablo Dodero and Argenis Garcia. The festival originally started out small—a mere 500 people in attendance but the next year, the audience doubled, much to the shock of all involved (in the best way possible). Continuing its growth spurt, AMF is still expanding with more stages, a variety of bands, and DJs. Plus, this year, they worked in conjunction with NRMAL (another creative group hosting an all-week DJ conference and showcase), Todd Patrick, and Otras Obras gallery, so the festivities ran all weekend.
I went down to AMF and saw a chunk of Mexican bands and DJs I never knew existed (but was totally impressed by), along with a few American acts I knew I already liked (boring), all while sucking back giant beer-Clamato-lime-salt cocktails and munching on pot cookies. I circled like a dog around the three lit-up stages, hitting delicious food and booze booths and watching people makeout, trip-out, whatever. Compared to most, AMF is a small festival in its baby years, but for me, that makes it all that much better. I was taken with Matilda Manzana, Los Macuanos, Bruno Dario, Maria y Jose, and Mock the Zuma. Check them out.
Matilda Manzana - Conjuntos Cartográficos EP
NRMAL is a group of cultural tycoons who work very hard to get talented musicians, artists, and thinkers together to create more art and perform that art and then re-record that art and party with that art. This year, they hosted a week-long residency called Norte Sonoro, during which various international artists like Venux X and White Rainbow collaborated on sets with Mexican nationals they had been working with all week, culminating in a festival at Club Leyla, an ancient, mirrored disco club. Oh, then they decided to make it into an EP. Rad, right? What's even more is that this is all government-funded. Just check out their website.
Norte Sonoro EP
Another cool label out of Tijuana. Just check it out all the bands here, especially TRON.
INAUGURACIÓN GALERÍA OTRAS OBRAS
This new gallery space just opened up in Tijuana due to the efforts of New Yorker Todd Patrick and Los Angeles boy Michael Ray-Von. Formerly a place that sold decals, then a hair salon, then the head office of All My Friends Festival, Otras Obras is now an active contemporary art gallery working to merge Mexican and international artists. Its first exhibit, To Preserve Disorder, was created by New York artist Jesse Hlebo and Mexico City-raised artist Joaquín Segura. Anti-authoritarian, pro-terrorist, and anti-state ideas are explored through a stark, white space with exploded bags of fertilizer. Ray-Von, Hlebo and Patrick will be keeping the space up and running with more shows. Stay tuned here.
When I saw this band play, they ate their drumsticks. They make fucked up, electronic, tribal-inspired noise that turns your spine into jelly.
I Learn Everything on TV
WATCH OUT FOR CARDBOARD ON THE GROUND
Can we talk about Mickey Mousing shit for a sec here? So, while out for a smoke after the AMF Festival, some Los Angeles jock and I were walking in a parking lot outside our hotel. I stepped on a piece of cardboard that was on the ground thinking it was just a piece of cardboard on a ground, but really, it was a make-shift manhole cover and I fell into the Mexican sewer. Had my leg not gotten caught, I probably would have sunk deep into the sewage system of Tijuana and choked to death on my own stupidity and feces. So, just a warning: DO NOT step on cardboard and think it’s going to be just a piece of cardboard on the cement.