International Writers Magazine:
Goth club, Mexico City
how or why we had booked a gig there,
I have no clear recollection, but we needed the cash and whilst
it wasnt perhaps our usual target audience, los goticos might
still enjoy our Mexican-rock-and roll-viva-las Zapatistas type music
for a change. Either that or boo us out the door. Possibly in a
scary Goth manner.
The club was almost
pitch black and packed with black. stiffly sprayed hair and pancake
make up; morose figures loomed and swooped in the ultra-violet light
and I felt conspicuously blonde and far too well adjusted. We struggled
to unload Fluffy-the Van (a stupid English misnomer that I hold my hand
up to) and set up the stage to the moan and wail of various unfamiliar
Goth dirges and then, with only the usual amount of delay and squabbles,
launched into our heavier numbers, accompanied by a surprisingly enthusiastic
crowd who awoke from their depressed torpor and began to pogo and stage
dive without a care in the world. Things were going swimmingly with
minimal injuries and maximum bonhomie when the power was suddenly crunched
off and the house lights went on, leaving everyone blinking at each
other like children caught doing something naughty and embarrassing.
A suspicious amount of agitated milling began to emanate from Front
of House, gradually rippling back to us standing, slightly miffed, on
the stage. The club manager shoved through the crowd, his kohl slipping
a little and at first only random words reached us
Precious moments were wasted in confusion and initial scoffing, but
it suddenly became clear that the club had just received a tip off
Judicial Police were on their way for a drugs raid and anything or anyone
left on the premises when they got here would be impounded or arrested.
WE would be in big trouble if we didnt get our equipment out of
there NOW. And for me there was a small personal issue of not having
a valid visa. Sudden action.
Those in the crowd who were a) still capable or b) suddenly worried
about what their respectable middle class families would think, began
to stampede for the door, leaving pools of only the very stoned or the
very rebellious behind. We the band began flailing around, hurling cables
at boxes in tangled clumps, tripping over microphone stands that refused
to telescope down or trapping finger skin in those that did it too quickly,
wrestling with cases that suddenly decided not to fit their instruments.
The drum kit wouldnt come apart and was carried bodily through
the swirling crowd with bits then falling off as it went, along with
speakers that were charged through at a run.
Everywhere was chaos, people trying to help us and people merely trying
to help themselves to whatever they might be able to carry off. Sammy,
our roadie, was dancing around in the back of the van screaming at people
to get out of the way and simultaneously trying to bum a fag from a
Goth girl who looked about twelve. Sirens were heard in the distance.
The atmosphere turned ugly and punch ups began to break out in the street
as the adrenaline and outrage and possible other substances kicked in.
As we flung delicate objects into the back of Fluffy, a skeletal Goth
in a flapping black trench coat began to jump on the bonnet of a car
and scream abuse in the direction of the sirens. The first bottle flew,
narrowly missing his head and smashed into the opposite curb. We were
sweating and filthy, feeling like we were in one of those dreams where
nothing happens fast enough. Minutes of frantic action passed. The sirens
grew louder as the last item was lobbed in the back of the van and Sammy
kicked drunk people off the tailgate in order to shut the door. One
of the door hinges chose this moment to collapse in a crumble of rust
and about six people rammed the door with their shoulders to close it
enough for the padlock.
We piled into the front cab, stones and bottles now flying thick and
fast. As we jolted and lurched away from the curb a rock crashed against
the windscreen creating a spider web of cracks and a smaller stone zinged
straight through the side window. The only side mirror was smashed and
bent, swirls of furious people ran amok, and the cab of the van was
a plethora of profanities in three different languages. Whilst Rico
swerved the ponderous Fluffy around pools of rioting Goths, Sammy was
thrown around in the back, valiantly using every limb to balance toppling
speakers and landslides of delicate equipment whilst still managing
to light a new fag and protect his head from a plunging guitar.
The backdoor gaped and groaned and just as we got on a straight, "we-
were- never- there- guv" looking course, the crazed patrol cars
came screaming around the corner, sirens and lights blasting by us to
skid to a halt in front of the club a few yards behind us. We couldnt
see anymore after that.The van became quiet as we contemplated our escape.
Still cashless then, with a bunch of knotted cables and twisted connections,
missing microphones, a split snare drum, bruised shins, slipped discs,
a wrecked van. And a vague feeling of guilt for having left the rest
of them to it.
This was the serious side to the whole incident. Where is the line between
solidarity, and simple every man for himself, I wondered? Was it applicable
here, or was the guilt it raised just displaced bleeding heart nonsense?
There probably were drugs around at the club, but its doubtful
that many of them were hardened criminals, just students; did they deserve
a violent raid from the judicial police who had a reputation of nastiness
stubbornly clinging to them?
We couldnt find out much information in the following days, apart
from a small article in a newspaper generally applauding the police
action. The club was closed down for an indeterminate length of time,
but would almost certainly reopen somewhere else or as something else.
I guess raids like this happen all over the world all the time, but
to be in the midst of it, in Mexico City, at a time of uprising and
violence in general, only exacerbated the scab of injustice and repression
that barely ever has time to heal and is constantly inflicted in the
name of cracking down on crime.
It raised the spectre of the Tlatelolco riots of 1968, where a peaceful
student demonstration was turned into a bloody riot by heavy handed
police methods. The closing down of Club Goth was just another small
and almost unnoticed example of heavy handedness and targeting of the
wrong people. Only because we were there in the club that night could
we know that there hadnt been the violence or obscenities reported
in the newspaper, so it was also an interesting lesson in media manipulation
and unfortunately cast lingering doubt and cynicism on other media reporting
if they could blow a raid on a small insignificant club out of
proportion, what do they do to the real issues
All the same, when the next gig turned out to be at an open air arts
festival, it was a bit of a relief. At least there you expect a police
© Karen Phillips Oct 2008
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