Music and magic: Mexico City at night
Max Emilio Bassarelli
“Night is a two-way garage, here and there it’s magic that sets the pace”, go the lyrics by Mexican songwriter and poet Jaime López to the song De noche, which was a big hit for Eugenia León 20 years ago. And it seems that Mexico City was the muse that inspired those words, with its two sides, its magic, and its music.
Crossing it from north to south in one night is impossible. But broken down into fragments, it becomes quite an adventure! It should be savored gradually, so as not to choke on the vast array of what is on offer in its museums and colonial buildings, the contrasting modernism, clandestine figures, places to eat and drink, to dance, and to let your feelings run wild.
After midnight in the Center, hundreds of revelers congregate in Plaza Garibaldi, at the Museum of Tequila and Mezcal and at Tenampa, to party or to drown their sorrows as the heart of the area come alive. A few meters away is what has been a beacon and a sentry for years: the Latin American Tower.
This reference point stands on the Eje Central, and from there you can head for Estanquillo Museum, where an opera singer comes out onto the balcony on Fridays to sing an aria, or for Casino Español, which welcomes wedding, graduation and christening guests.
Let’s talk about streets. The Marrakesh Room on República de Cuba is a symbol of diversity that draws people wanting to dance every type of music. And at Bolívar 24 is the incomparable Corona Room, which serves the best tortas al pastor in the region. And if it is culture you are looking for, well worthwhile having a look at the Museos de Noche (Museums at Night) program of events, because they open from 7.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. on the last Wednesday of every month, when there are talks, lectures and exhibitions.
“Night is dense clandestine wine, night is exile in the city”, continues López’ song, words that fit a nocturnal tour of the city perfectly: spirits and mezcal, salesmen and office workers transformed into momentary celebrities.
Let’s go to another street: Paseo de la Reforma. There, Alameda and Bellas Artes refresh the atmosphere, standing proud and majestic. Illuminated, shining. The one a hive of activity and noise, the other with its stunning architecture. It’s all a geometric game, multicolored, and of styles: the monument known as El Caballito, the Stock Exchange and the ultra-modern Hotel St. Regis. And there’s also Diana Cazadora, the Angel of Independence, the Pillar of Light, the open-air art or photographic exhibition outside Chapultepec Park, and the National Auditorium. Dotted around all of them are restaurants, bars and cafés that tie you to the area and won’t let you leave.
Nearby is Polanco, with Soumaya Museum on Carso Square, which is home to a shopping mall that there is no need to leave if you want to spend a pleasant evening: movies, dining and dancing. And just a few blocks away is the recently-opened Jumex Museum.
“Night is my trench, at night everything explodes, at night please I don’t want peace, I prefer battle”, intones León’s voice in the song.
Today it seems as if it was written only recently. In the south, on Insurgentes Avenue, is another ‘artery’ that beats to the city’s pulse. Close by is Mama Rumba, if salsa and cumbia are what you are looking for, while a few blocks away is Patrick Miller, with techno for those eager to tap and stamp their feet till they drop, overcome by sweat and dehydration. Brightly-lit Mexico City vibrates in this area, notable for its couples looking for a quiet corner where they can kiss, restaurants of every nationality serving all kinds of food that stay open until 2.00 a.m., and –of course– taco stalls for night owls, such as El Gallito.
Nearby are the World Trade Center and Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros, currently being refurbished. On reaching San Ángel you see how the flower market, La Paz Avenue, the culture center and San Jacinto Square light up the night sky like another moon.
Finally, heading down Miguel Ángel de Quevedo in the south, Coyoacán Center is somewhere you will never want to leave, a place to chat until dawn on a bench in good company, to drink as much mezcal as possible in one of its discotheques, to dance the night.
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