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The Fabulously Dressed Dancing OAPs of Mexico City

Every Saturday, a couple of hundred elderly danzón fanatics descend on the capital's Plaza de la Ciudadela.

af Alan Mendoza, Words by Javier Ibarra
24 august 2015, 10:53am

This article originally appeared on VICE Mexico

It was barely noon, when the first of the painstakingly dressed danzón fans began to arrive at Mexico City's Plaza de la Ciudadela – or Plaza de Danzónas as it's locally known. Danzón, a Cuban style of music and dance dating back to 1879, has all but died out on its home island yet remains extremely popular in the Mexican capital – particularly amongst its elderly. Every Saturday for the past 20 years, about 200 people have been gathering at the square to enjoy the traditional bands and have a bit of a jiggle. At a guess, more than half of the day's participants were over 60 years old.

For many of the dancers, the outfits seem to be as important as the music. Several of the guys – or "pachucos" – are decked out in dramatic zoot suits, feathered fedoras and shiny leather shoes. Others simply show up in their every day attire. The women – or "pachucas" – glam up in evening gowns and high-heels, while their are hairstyles modelled after renowned, but kind of ancient, Mexican beauties like Sara Montiel and Rebeca Iturbide.

The Saturday I attended, the dance was organised as a benefit for single mothers who have been affected by domestic violence. Entry to the event was free but attendees had been asked to bring some clothes or canned food to help those in need. The donations sat just at the edge of the stage – right below the musicians' feet. There was a real sense of community in it all.

Plaza de la Ciudadela is a real melting pot of social classes. A place where people from every walk of life and corner of the city can gather on a weekly basis to keep the tradition of danzón alive. It doesn't matter whether you're from the posh neighbourhoods of the North or the poorest slums of the East – danzon is for everyone as long as they love the music.

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