late sunday morning, heavy-lidded from a delicious saturday night, patricio and i saw the city without traffic. driving toward cousin blanca's house with the first half of mexico vs. iran on the radio, we imagined the streets and highways forever free of backed-up lanes, and it was beautiful. beautiful, like those three goals mexico made that morning, making us bounce around on couches while we yelled, hands punching the electrified air. it seemed the whole city saw it happen somewhere--anywhere but out driving.
late sunday afternoon, sprawled across pedro and laura's lawn, patricio and i helped pull up clover while eating slices of pineapple. we talked about politics and people, and election's possible outcomes. we imagined a mexico with a government that got it right, and it was also beautiful, like the enormous bowl of ceviche we spooned into that evening, covering crackers with that mix of mexican seafood and sauce.
and that late, delicious, saturday night? we spent it at a place--though built above ground--that feels subterranean like the white rabbit's hole, and a haven for mexico's underground sounds. driving south toward coyoacán, we pulled up to the curb in colonia roma, in front of el foro alicia. a glance at the lineup was all we needed as a reason for us to stay; we'd heard nothing but good about cabezas de cera, and we wanted to hear if the hullabaloo was true. we had no idea what fun we were in for.
el alicia has been a fixture here for ten years now, and counting down. housed in an old, two-story warehouse--service elevator and fiberglass sheet ceiling, too--the walls are painted, to the last bit of space, in gigantic, graffiti art murals. the stairwell to the second floor stage is a slim, square, vertiginous spiral. the bar occupies a corner, stocked to the ceiling with boxes and boxes of beer. it's a mental reference salad of both CBGB and the nuyorican poets cafe, and maybe the mercury lounge. but its a space all its own, where an upcoming band can play and make its mark. (you can see a post-show video of the concert space here, highlighting the graffiti all the way to the wonderful abominations that are the bathrooms. but it's long, and shot by a very drunk canadian. if you're in the mood for listening to him, great! but let's be honest: muting the video makes it a million times better).
the man behind all the music is nacho pineda, and on saturday night he filled the house with a wall of sound, french and mexican, and one hundred percent sublime. minuit guibolles opened for cabezas de cera, both groups formed by super talented boys with stage presence oozing out their eyeballs. punk, jazz, gallic, middle-eastern, and metal: it was all a part of the playlist. even the dreadlocked hipster cynics slouched in the seats up front became part of a captive, hypnotized crowd. who knew a bagpipe or an 'ud could be so heavenly cool?
patricio and i imagined ourselves moving inside the music, and it was beautiful. really beautiful, like the tapestry pinned up behind the stage, full of shapes and colors like the people and sounds in front of it.
but i found out today that within a year, el alicia will probably close. in an interview with la jornada, pineda said that "we're tired of fighting with the authorities, we're fed up with it...it's tiring to work fourteen-hours every day, from sunday to sunday... but the real reason we're tired is that one friday the office of the municipal treasury arrives with a fine, on saturday a city inspector slaps on another one, the week begins with a lawsuit and on tuesday we get a citation from the borough....sometimes i think the authorities see independent (underground) culture as their enemy, and it's tiring, irritating and bothersome."
granted, there don't seem to be fire escapes, extinguishers, or toilet cleaning liquids anywhere near the building. i can see why the place would be a magnet for municipal molestation. but it's concerts also add immeasurably to the city's creative culture, without so much as a peso of arts-promoting subsidies. it's a testament to love, to listening and to hard work, and to offering something--many things--new.
i imagine the country's capital without el foro alicia, and it isn't at all beautiful. not beautiful, like alice's wonderland, existing forever only in the intangible world of a young, curious girl's dreams.