The leering clown masks at a vendor’s stand yesterday remained largely unsold, snubbed, left hanging above the crowd. As though attending a ball demanding black tie, the denizens of D.F. stuck largely to the dress code yesterday. Masks were not part of it.
In the afternoon, La Reforma was one giant makeshift makeup studio. Cosmeticians for the day set up anywhere they could perch with formality equal to itinerant shoeshine vendors. There appeared no dearth of eager clients waiting to have their faces blanketed in the eerie thick white base transforming them into Las Catrinas or their bone-men counterparts.
We strolled over to a museum in Chapultepec Park to while away a little time before the 7 o’clock start time of the Mega Procesion de Catrinas at the landmark Angel of Independence. Then we returned and perched there. Waiting. And people-watching. And waiting.
We were definitely not alone in our anticipation of the people’s parade marching by. But the desfile never actually appeared there, at what was billed as its starting point.
The closed center lane to traffic in the block ahead leading toward the Zocolo was jammed with costumed people. Crammed like sardines in a can. If they were making any forward progress at all it was at a snail’s pace.
A friend reported las Catrinas did parade by several blocks away, but hundreds, probably more than a thousand, of those stuck in the bottleneck at the beginning failed to make it out of the first block. At 8 o’clock, truckloads of police started pulling in behind them, slowly nudging the crowds of would-be marchers out of the way to reopen La Reforma to traffic.
Instead of being all dressed up with no place to go, perhaps many of las Catrinas eventually made their way to the Zocolo where the costume party could continue.
Anyone longing for a bit of live music can simply stroll to the Zocalo in the heart of Oaxaca almost any time of day. Student orchestras and the full state band perform regularly, often challenged by street musicians trolling for tips nearby. Guitars, flutes, marimbas, horns, accordions. Wedding parties parade around town on weekends followed by bands and dancers.
The Zocalo attracts couples who have danced together for years, hardly needing a nudge from partners to stay completely in step executing the most complicated maneuvers of traditional danzones. But the youthful exuberance encountered on a Friday night in Parque El Llano was a refreshing hoot. The high heels and tennis shoes in the photo above managed to partner up for dancing at the end-of-the-week party.
But who brought on the clowns? Clowns increasingly amplified with wireless microphones. People of all ages crowd around, laughing and applauding as on cue.
This enduring affection for street performers clowning around is found throughout Europe. It never translates into anything close to amusing for me.
I grew up laughing over Bozo the Clown and the Three Stooges. How did I get so jaded?