Mexico City isn’t the most obvious metropolitan hotspot within the club music landscape, but something is happening deep within the city’s sweat-drenched nightlife bunkers that’s garnering substantial traction among underground electronic communities all over the globe.
Frustrated by the lack of a proper space where the city’s most avant-minded denizens could congregate and soak up each other’s experimental music and fashion tastes, Oaxaca natives and local DJs Tomás Davó and Alberto Bustamante united forces to launch N.A.A.F.I. (short for “No Ambition And Fuck-all Interest”), a club night-turned-record-label-and-clothing-line that would both dominate and subvert Mexico City’s party scene unlike ever before.
Since its 2010 inception, the collective has expanded to include over 16 members, such as international club set regulars Mexican Jihad, Zakmatic, Lao and Imaabs, with each one harboring a distinct musical style that’s ultimately united by a strong sense of Latin American pride. “It’s pretty much a free for all,” says co-founder Davó. “It’s diverse and non-generic; a mix of chaos is what really makes up the trademark N.A.A.F.I. sound, and it’s always mutating.”
While the mutant sonics that cascade from the speakers at any given N.A.A.F.I. function have birthed a category of club music unique to the Mexican capital’s nightlife underworld, the synergy of sounds that form it trace back to regions on a global scale: reggaeton snares pounding into Aaliyah vocals, baile funk instrumentals glazed over by biting ballroom voguing chants, punishing hardstyle beats pierced through a Russian version of a t.A.T.u. ballad.
N.A.A.F.I.’s raw DNA and eclectic appeal make it an obvious counterpart to other genre-annihilating anarchists running under-the-radar club scenes–from New York City’s GHE20G0TH1K club night and London’s Endless and Bala Club collectives, to Berlin’s Janus and Stockholm’s Staycore crews–but even though the Mexican label’s aesthetic language is open to collaboration, it shouldn’t be blanketed under one set group.
During a recent trip to Mexico City, I was invited to attend one of N.A.A.F.I.’s legendary club nights held in an underground venue within the city’s historic Colonia Centro district. Unsurprisingly, the soirée was filled with a bevy of colorful characters–teenage voguing queens, brawny cholos, skull masked cybergoths, “alt” streetwear aficionados and the like–who danced at frenetic cadence to the high-octane BPM steering the energy throughout a seven-hour time bracket.
Scroll through our gallery above to get a taste of how underground clubbers really get down south of the border.
Now that you know where to party in Mexico City, find out where to shop for streetwear.
- Photography: Alan Balthazar / Highsnobiety.com