Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Spanish music played a huge role in my life while I was learning the language and Intocable, X was the first Spanish language CD I ever bought. I listened to Es Alguien Mas as I finally decided between two boys. I pumped myself up with Es Mejor Decir Adios before I finally ended things with the other boy. I cried myself to sleep listening to Estas Que Te Pelas on repeat about 428 times the night before I finally decided to get off drugs. I would play Aire on the nights when I missed my family so much that I could barely breathe.

I bought that album on a recommendation from an old man selling queso Chihuahua door to door in Mesa, Arizona and it quickly became a huge part of my early 20's. And years later I still love Intocable. So when I heard that they added Juárez to their tour schedule for the first time since 2006, I jumped at the chance to see them live.

I bought the tickets online from the Don Boleton website. They were advertised at 160 pesos on the TV commercial that we saw, but while making the purchase, there was an additional 20 peso cargo por servicio, and then another 10 pesos for God-knows-what bringing the total to 380 pesos for 2 tickets. Just under $30 US. Not too shabby. After I ordered the tickets online we had to go pick them up from a record store called Sounds which has locations in all the major malls in Juárez. There was an option to print the tickets online but there was a 25 peso additional charge per ticket for that so I passed. To my surprise, when we arrived at Estadio Jaime Canales Lira the night of the concert, scalpers were outside selling tickets for only 150 pesos. It struck me as odd considering scalpers in the US always jack the prices way up the night of the event, but bienvenido a Mexico I suppose?

We paid 50 pesos to park in a gated lot right on Avenida de Americas and being that we were actually on time, there were plenty of spaces to park and we didn't have to do much walking. Outside the stadium there were crowds of vendors. They cried out to us from from every direction, selling pictures of the different bands that would be performing, elotes, candy bars, chips with Valentina, pop, water, etc. We got into line to get into the concert and right away I could see that I was totally underdressed. I always feel underdressed in Juárez though.

I was wearing jeans with a black top that has some lace in the back and black boots. It seemed appropriate back at the house but the girl teetering in her stilettos in front of me in line was wearing a mini-skirt, a hot pink sequined top and a black leather jacket. The woman behind me wore knee-high black stiletto boots with leather leggings and some sort of elaborate fur vest. I really wanted to see these ladies try to walk to the top of the stadium seating in those fancy shoes but alas, they were seated in the VIP section below.

When we entered the stadium we walked right into a huge crowd of police officers. I was ordered to open my purse for a female officer while Ray got frisked by a male officer. We were waved along and sent up to the General Admission area. With our tickets we had the choice of standing on the actual field, behind the VIP section, or sitting in the stadium seating above. Ray thought it would be better to sit up above, mentioning that he would feel more in control up there. I didn't know what he meant by that but followed his lead. We sat on the top row, right in the center, behind home base.

After the crowds started coming in I could see what Ray meant about not having control below.
This grassy area you see between me and the crowd turned into a big dancing and drinking area.
I guess now is a good time to mention that this is the first concert I had ever been to. I am passionate about music but just never felt compelled to spend big bucks to see my favorite bands on tour. I did go to Primavera Musical in 2006 at Tempe Beach Park but I would hardly call that a concert. The tickets were free with the proof of purchase of a 12 pack of Tecate and each band only performed a couple of songs. So I didn't really know what to expect.

The concert was to start at 8 pm and there were 4 opening acts. I assumed that each opening act would be somewhat unknown and would just sing a couple of songs. Boy was I wrong. For starters, although I didn't recognize any of the bands by name, they all had songs that get serious radio time here in Juárez. The young girls next to us were belting out the lyrics to practically every song at the top of their lungs. And the opening acts went on and on and on.

I probably wouldn't have noticed the time if it weren't for the fact that I was freezing my ass off. The temperature was in the low 50's when we arrived but as the night went on, the wind picked up and temps dropped into the 40's. It still wouldn't have been so bad but the wind was howling and in the top row of the stadium we could really feel it. It was nearing midnight when people started to get a bit desperate. Intocable still hadn't taken the stage and people were starting to stand up and just run in place to stay warm. I was taking trips to the bathroom, warming myself by walking up and down the steps of the stadium.

The bathrooms were pretty bad though so that got old quick. After you waited in a long line, you walked into this:

I actually snapped this shortly after we arrived and the Tecate hadn't quite hit the ladies yet. There was no toilet paper in the stalls, which is common in Mexico, but you could purchase a few squares for 5 pesos from a man posted outside the bathrooms. There wasn't any soap but there were sinks with running water. There were no pipes running from the drains though, only into the faucet itself, so the water would just pour out of the drain and onto the floor. I suppose that's what that drain in the middle of the room is for. People seated in the VIP section had access to porta potties. I still can't figure out who had it better.

After making my 4th trip to the bathroom, just to warm my bones, I begged Ray to go get the blanket from the car. I keep it there for my parking lot naps in El Paso. At first he didn't want to because he thought we would look stupid but eventually the wind got to him too.

I'll admit, I did feel a little silly with the blanket at first, but comfort trumps style and I wasn't wearing high heels anyway so I was already fucked, right?

Here's Mr. We'll-Look-Stupid-With-A-Blanket a mere 5 minutes after he brought it back from the car.
Once we had warmed up a bit we got more comfortable. The beer was really calling our names at this point and the Tecate vendors would pass by every couple of minutes with buckets of ice cold beer. We gave up alcohol for Lent though and stayed true to our promises by staying sober. If you know me, you know that was no easy feat, so I'm pretty proud. We drank Cokes instead and sampled some of the best tacos I've ever had.

Shortly before 1 am Intocable finally took the stage and I got my first experience of a real concert. Not that the opening acts weren't great, but we came to see Intocable. The crowd cheered and sang in unison and there was just this buzz of excitement in the air.

Our seats ended up being perfect. We had a nice view of everything and could see everyone on stage clearly from the big screens that were on either side of the stage.

So many of my friends love to go to concerts and music festivals and I never really understood why. I enjoy listening to music at home so much, I never really imagined something could top it. Saying that aloud actually sounds ridiculous to me now. After going to this concert I totally get it. I finally understand why people pay so much money to see their favorite bands live. You aren't just listening to the music. It's the entire experience. The people, the dancing, the fans singing off-tune, never missing a lyric. There is some sort of magic that happens when you bring so many people together for one simple reason; their love of music. And there was also something magical about all these people in Juárez, out until 4 am, just to listen to that music and feel that love. And I felt an overwhelming sense of unity because of it. I felt like I was a part of it all.

When many people think of Juárez, they think of fear. They think of crime. They think of a city that has been ravaged by cartel violence over the years. They think of all sorts of horrible things. And a lot of those thoughts are accurate. But none of those things seemed to matter last Saturday. 

The only thing that mattered that night was the music and feeling the love. 


  1. favorite post yet. thank you.

  2. Great post! I can identify with loving the atmosphere of a concert at least as much as the music itself. And, I can absolutely identify with music being linked to phases in our lives... for me it was Italian pop. There's no accounting for taste!

    1. Thank you! I'm glad music has been such a big part of your life as well.

  3. Great post, a Conjunto Primavera fan here but I have never seen them in concert. It sounds like you had a great time and it was worth it! And BTW I get you on the feeling under-dressed in Mexico, there are some fancy dressers here:)

    1. Agreed! I have relatives that dress in mini cocktail dresses and 3 inch heels to go to the mercado ;)

      Love this post Emily. So glad you had a great time, and that juarez did too :) (and way to go on the blanket in the car, much more comfy!)

  4. I love Intocable, but have yet to see them in concert. I have been to thousands of concerts, but mainly duranguense, banda, and reggeaton. I can't wait until I can convince MIguel to go to a concert here in Mexico. His parents are so scared that they always convince him not to go when we plan to go. :( Glad you enjoyed it! I am going to show this to him, maybe it will help convince hgim that we will be ok and to not listen to his parents!

    1. Hopefully it helps and you get to go to a concert soon :)

  5. Emily, you are really putting Juarez on the map as a place where people live their lives. I know at times you have to blog about immigration, murders, other crimes and the like, but it is so great to read about the social aspect of your life there. I've never heard of Intocable and I know of many Mexican bands. I'll have to google them.

    1. Thanks. Definitely give them a listen, they're awesome!

  6. I thought of you when I was listening to Public Radio. Here are two URLS for sound files for two stories they did on Intocable. Thanks to you I knew what they were talking about! One (the first) is coverage of the concert you attended including an interview with the lead singer! Don't say I never did anything for you. LOL. Leslie in New Mexico



    1. Yes! I have heard them. I am loving the whole Borderland series. Steve Inskeep is doing a fantastic job! Thanks for sharing.