Some of you out there have been complaining that my posts are too long and nostalgic, so today I’m keeping it short and contempo.
According to the Real Academia, the word antro (derived from the Latin antrum and the Greek antron; a cavity or chamber) refers to:
1. A cavern, cave or grotto.
2. A place, establishment, residence, etc. of poor aspect or reputation.
The English equivalent of antro would be a dive or shithole. Mexico City has an entire neighborhood that is one big antro: the Zona Rosa.
Once it was posh and cosmopolitan, now it is gaudy and queer.
It’s a fallen neighborhood. Only the dated tourist guides still consider the area one of the city’s “main attractions.” Unless you’re into sex tourism, that is. The Zona Rosa's streets are full of huge, old German or Dutch men holding hands with skinny underage brown boys with their pants hanging down to their groins.
You might spot a scared, lost, straight gringo couple that had been here once in the seventies and wanted to relive the good ‘ol days. You feel bad for them.
The Pink Zone was originally called that because it was a soft and prissy version of a red light district. Nowadays it's gotten so seedy that people are actually calling it Zona Roja or Zonaja for short. (Sonaja means rattle in Spanish.) The Zona Rosa is Mexico City’s take on the zonas (tolerance zones, or “Boystowns”) that made Mexican bordertowns infamous in the 1920s. But gayer.
Today, the Zona Rosa is more pink as in splattered brains or insides.
Many of Mexico City's central neighborhoods have made a comeback and turned posh again after the 1985 post-earthquake exodus, but not the Zona Rosa.
The area is packed with shady teibols (table-dance clubs), merengue dance halls, gay clubs with Styrofoam cave-like interiors, Korean fast food joints, Korean hair salons, Korean Karaoke bars with Carpenters songs. There’s also a bunch of clubs without names or street numbers; backrooms for swingers parties, orgies, dress-code parties, show-and-tell parties, or whatever type of party you can think of.
The bars that do have a name are called Keops, Pussy, Boybar, Atenea, Lipstick, Crazy, Pink, Bgay, Shiva, Boots, Neon, Safari, and VIP.
It’s the only place in town where you can get contraband unfiltered Lucky Strikes.
The urban scale and the architecture of this gangrenous limb of the Colonia Juárez are fantastic. As one of the first modern, upper-class planned subdivisions of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the Zona Rosa boasts a surreal array of architectural styles: Neoclassical, Neo-Colonial, French Colonial, Mission (known as Estilo California in Mexico), Art Déco, Mexican Streamline, etc. In the later decades, International Style, Barraganesco, Bureaucratic Baroque (or Estilo Priísta Tardío), and Corporate Kitsch have been layered on top.
Until recently, the Zona Rosa was the only part of the city with exclusively pedestrian streets. But they were used more for cruising than walking.
Needless to say, I'm a fan.