Midwesterner in Mexico header image

El Chopo: Mexico City’s goth/metal/ska/punk mercado!

Last week my boss tipped me off to TWO new Mexico City markets with which I was previously unfamiliar:

  1. Tianguis Cultural del Chopo, a Saturday-only market dedicated towards all things rock/alternative/punk/ska/goth/weed/hippie
  2. Centro Artesanal Buenavista, “La Tienda Mas Grande del Pais con 100,000 articulos finos en 24,000 mts2″ (The largest store in the country with 100,000 fine items in 258,000 square feet)

These two mercados are located right next to each other, both fascinating in their own way & definitely worth a couple hours spent on a Saturday afternoon. Also, they are easily accessible via public transit– take the Metro to the Buenavista stop on the gray line B, or the Metrobus up Insurgentes to the Buenavista stop (just a bit north of Reforma).

The “cool” prize definitely goes to El Chopo. Their website (may I interject– well done you, tianguis [street market] with a trendy, informative website!) has a great history in Spanish. In a nutshell, the market’s been around for nearly 29 years and you can find “CDs, DVDs, records, goth clothes, sweatshirts, punk fashion, stickers, artsy stuff, live bands ploaying, emo, metal gear, urban, jamaican style, fotographic exhibitions, band members wandering around, and all that you’ve imagined in only one place!”  Additionally, the people watching (which is good in Mexico City to begin with) may rank on the “excellent” scale here. (On that front, my photos pale in comparison to one depicted above from their website, contributed by user “massiel”.) We did not have the priviledge of observing any dachsund-licking during our visit, not even dachsund-licking by flat-haired people. [Editor's note: the Chopo website seems to have taken a dirt nap. Sorry...]

I discovered reading the website tonite that you are *supposed* to get badge to take photos in El Chopo, but we somehow managed to snap a few pictures without incident. Of course, their website also requests that drugs and alcohol not be consumed in the market, and a few sniffs of the air indicated those rules weren’t being followed tooo closely…so perhaps these are all just *suggestions*…. ;)

El Chopo pics below followed by Centro Buenavista.

Ahh ska... how you remind me of my college days, when I tried to learn how to skank (ska dancing) to impress my freshman year boyfriend, until finally I realized that everyone looks like an idiot doing it.

Ahh ska... how you remind me of my college days, when I tried to learn how to skank (ska dancing) to impress my freshman year boyfriend, until finally I realized that everyone looks like an idiot doing it.

John does his best, government-employee "tsk tsk tsk" glare towards the marijuana-decorated backpacks.

John does his best, government-employee "tsk tsk tsk" glare towards the marijuana-decorated backpacks.

It is basically only a matter of time before I break down and buy one (or more) of these lucha libre mascara keychains...

It is basically only a matter of time before I break down and buy one (or more) of these lucha libre mascara keychains...

On the end of the mascara spectrum, we have these slightly more severe masks... I will leave up to your imagination what is happening there on the left...

On the other end of the mascara spectrum, we have these slightly more severe masks... I will leave up to your imagination what is happening there on the left...

Third time's the charm: these were my favorite masks-- some enterprising merchant capitalizing on the conflicting need for healthy precautions + style with wittily-decorated flu facemasks (the sign read tapabocas de moda-- fashionable facemasks).

Third time's the charm: these were my favorite masks-- some enterprising merchant capitalizing on the conflicting need for healthy precautions + style with wittily-decorated flu facemasks (the sign read tapabocas de moda-- fashionable facemasks).

You can even find heavy metal vintage Playboy mags...

You can even find heavy metal vintage Playboy mags...

I was entertained by the "McMuerte" logo (McDeath) until I remembered that I don't have any clothes/bags/coats to iron decals onto...

I was entertained by the "McMuerte" logo (McDeath) until I remembered that I don't have any clothes/bags/coats to iron decals onto...

All the clothing you could possibly need for your next rave, seduction, or re-enactment of The Matrix.

All the clothing you could possibly need for your next rave, seduction, or re-enactment of The Matrix.

As well as all the studded bracelets and animal print belts you were hoping for...

As well as all the studded bracelets and animal print belts you were hoping for...

And as per usual, we blended in seamlessly.

And as per usual, we blended in seamlessly.

After buying some random purses made out of old records at El Chopo, we moved on to Centro Artesanal Buenavista. I was expecting another massive outdoor market, but this one surprised us by subtly lurking in the goddamn biggest low-ceilinged warehouse I have ever seen. The “What the Hell is Going On Here” prize definitely goes to Buenavista. 

First to clarify, this is not a traditional artisan market; rather a freaking-massive store. I still expected it to be bustling with people, the way every other artisan market tends to be around here on a sunny Saturday afternoon. NO. Not even close.

I think we were one of three other couples in the 250,000+ square foot store for almost the whole time we were in there. At least 50% of the overhead flourescent lights were off. If it hadn’t been for the occasional lurking store employee, I would have been convinced that we either had gotten locked in a 70’s department store afterhours, or we had walked into the movie Mannequin. Only the mannequins didn’t look like Kim Cattrall. They looked like this: 

Did someone install this mannequin's eyes upside down? And if this is a boy, should he really be wearing that much eyeliner?

Did someone install this mannequin's eyes upside down? And if this is a boy, should he really be wearing that much eyeliner?

and this:

I anticipate this mannequin being featured on the Mexican spinoff of "What Not to Wear: Your Kids"

I anticipate this mannequin being featured on the Mexican spinoff of "What Not to Wear: For Kids"

 and these two terrifying gems: a surprisingly tall hand-less male mannequin wearing what can only be described as a “doo-rag”, and a bald, handless female mannequin who appears to be in ecstacy despite that fact that her wig is lying behind her in a pile that best resembles a long-haired guinea pig.

As you can see, the well-lit clothing section was simply mobbed with people wanting to take advantage of this great assortment of ponchos

As you can see, the well-lit clothing section was simply mobbed with people wanting to take advantage of this great assortment of ponchos

I was also struck by the liberal use of space in a country where most stores fill every available inch with saleable merchandise. It felt both wasteful and luxurious (?) to see individual plates displayed on massive, astroturfed, Teotihuacan replicas:

It almost felt like I was at Aztec ruins...if the Aztecs had degrees in Turf Grass Management...

It almost felt like I was at Aztec ruins...if the Aztecs had degrees in Turf Grass Management...

and a whole wall allotted for merely this small a number of nightmare-inducing owls:

This Owl Wall scared the crap out of me. Though it appears that no actual owls died in the making of these Owl Replicas... Maybe this is where all that hair went that we damaged with hot crimping irons back in the 80's?

This Owl Wall scared the crap out of me. Though it appears that no actual owls died in the making of these Owl Replicas... Maybe this is where all that hair went that we damaged with hot crimping irons back in the 80's?

One thing I was impressed with was how the store tried to teach its customers about Mexican handicrafts, in case they are not familiar with Mexican culture. For instance, maybe there are some people who don’t know about hammocks. I know for me, this carefully, artfully-arranged display really helped to show me what a hammock might be used for:

This display certainly helped to alleviate my concerns of "Is this hammock strong enough to hold me". If it is good enough for a nude, limbless, plastic mannequin and a doll COMBINED, it should easily hold my bulk.

This display certainly helped to alleviate my concerns of "Is this hammock strong enough to hold me". If it is good enough for a nude, limbless, plastic mannequin and a doll COMBINED, it should easily hold my bulk.

Also, the store used fun characters like friendly frogs to help visitors understand proper drinking habits in Mexico:

Dear God: If these frogs actually died of alcohol poisoning, please forgive me for mocking them on my website. Amen.

Dear God: If these frogs actually died of alcohol poisoning, please forgive me for mocking them on my website. Amen.

The last thing we learned about was who we would have to talk to if we were caught shoplifting any of these little treasures:

So, uh, is this thing really for sale? Can I rent it for a Halloween party?

So, uh, is this thing really for sale? Can I rent it for a Halloween party?

And finally, we perused the housewares section, also full of surprises…

I loved this "Tequila Rack"... because who among us doesn't have 18 bottles of tequila to display in our home?

I loved this "Tequila Rack"... because who among us doesn't have 18 bottles of tequila to display in our home?

For those of you considering a bathroom remodel, perhaps you have not given fair consideration to a conch shell spout + 2 rock nubbins for handles??

For those of you considering a bathroom remodel, perhaps you have not given fair consideration to a conch shell spout + 2 rock nubbins for handles??

This decorative rooster helps to lighten the mood of any room...or at least when someone tries to emulate his mannerisms.

This decorative rooster helps to lighten the mood of any room...or at least when someone tries to emulate his mannerisms.

I don’t know that I would include Centro Artesanal Buenavista (open daily from 9 to 6) on your wedding registry per se, but I would definitely add it onto a trip to El Chopo….particularly as the store has free bathrooms that John indicated were “adequate”.  As for me, another trip to El Chopo is definitely in my future… After all, you can never have too many fashionista facemasks in a place like Mexico City. :)

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

14 Comments on “El Chopo: Mexico City’s goth/metal/ska/punk mercado!”

  1. #1 laurencancun
    on May 19th, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Too funny!! I too noticed the McMuerte, and thought if only…. :)

  2. #2 Joy
    on May 19th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Oh god, my first thought when I saw the black leather gimp masks was “wow, fanny packs!”

    Wrong.

  3. #3 Lesley
    on May 19th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I totally want to go to El Chopo with you! But I won’t let you put up any pictures of me strutting like a rooster. Seriously… John doesn’t mind?

  4. #4 Julie
    on May 20th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    I operate under the assumption of “If you’re doing something in front of me & I have a camera out that you are able to see, you run the risk of your actions becoming blog fodder.” So, control over documentation of your rooster-strutting is totally in your hands…. ;)

  5. #5 LIL
    on Jun 1st, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    haha i’m mexican, and i’ve been to “el centro artesanal” and i agree they sell too much cr*p. i wonder how did they manage to stay in the market for so long!! they must have sold their soul to the skull in the picture… you thought it was a halloween costume, but it happens to be the center of their satanic altar maybe.

    keep enjoying our unique, different and crazy Mexico.

  6. #6 KK
    on Aug 26th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    My husband and I just joined the AmEmbassy Mexico City team and I was Googleing the Buenavista market because a colleague had recommended it as a good place to buy a hand-crafted artisan table. After reading your blog my hopes of finding a quality piece have been dashed, but we’re both in tears from laughing so hard. Thank you!

  7. #7 Kat
    on Sep 28th, 2009 at 2:19 am

    TOTALLY lovin’ that owl pic!

    Seriously!

    Not sure I’d go all the way to Mexico City for owl merchandise, but it was a unique image, anyway…

  8. #8 John Siri
    on Oct 24th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for the info Gringa. I’m going to head over there today for a haloween costume.

  9. #9 DenzelWs
    on Nov 2nd, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Hello there, Hey! How are you? Happy late Halowen! :D !!

  10. #10 Run, don’t walk, to Galerias El Triunfo for all your Christmas shopping needs… – Midwesterner in Mexico
    on Dec 15th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    [...] we actually entered the store, our visit became closely akin to our trip to Centro Artesenal Buenavista– i.e. we dropped any pretense of even thinking about buying something & instead focused [...]

  11. #11 Las Jirafas y la Mula in Santa Maria la Ribera – Midwesterner in Mexico
    on Jan 27th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    [...] to report back on the edgier beer options. This could also be a great lunch option after a visit to El Chopo on a Saturday afternoon– it’s just a few blocks west of that market, across [...]

  12. #12 SAZS1
    on Mar 6th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Genial reportaje Bro. saludos s

  13. #13 El Chopo: The Goth Experience
    on Jun 24th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    [...] get any pictures because you are supposed to have some kind of a badge or something, but here’s a blog about El Chopo with some great pictures.  Take a gander.  It’s a lot of [...]

  14. #14 SERGIO
    on Jan 16th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    JAJA HOLA KE TAL IO SOY MEXICANO Y ME GUATA EL SKA BI SUS FOTOS DEL TIANGUIS CULTURAL DEL CHOPO LA PURA PANILLA SE JUNTA AI Y EL MERCADO CULTURAL DEL CHOPO NO AI MUCHA JENTE AI JAJA EL CHOPO ES UN BUEN LUGAR DONDE NADIE TE DISCRIMINA I PUEDES ENCONTRAR A BUENOS AMIGOS AI JUNTARCE A BEBER CERVEZA Y BAILAR SKA IR A CONSEGIR MUCICA Y ROPA JAJA ORALE SE KUIDAN PAZ Y VIVA MEXICO CABRONES…

Leave a Comment