Crossing Point: The rise of Mexican dance culture
Two cities’ defiant club scenes, through the eyes of Mexico-based DJ Man Power.
Geoff Kirkwood never planned to start a new life in Mexico. “I first came here about 3 years ago. I was immediately struck by the frontier-ist vibe to the music scene: the massive levels of enthusiasm from the people involved, and the general warmth of the Mexican people,” the UK-born musician tells FACT. “In the first year alone I must have came back something like six times.”
In Crossing Point, a new FACT documentary, Kirkwood and others try to unravel exactly what it is about this burgeoning club culture that is so magnetic. With a unique sound bridging both North American and South American influence, the film delves into Mexico’s current political climate, and the ways in which Mexican dance culture is rebelling against “police state” power structures there. Featuring Daniel Malaso, Thomass Jackson and other names from the Mexican scene, and spotlighting two clubs in two cities –MN Roy in Mexico City and TOPAZdeluxe in Monterray, it’s a gripping watch. Watch above, and read a short interview with Kirkwood below.
What did you find so attractive about the Mexican dance scene?
“Something about the unbridled open mindedness here really appealed to me, and felt like a bit of an antidote to the Euro clubbing experience. The scene in Europe is dominated by experts, and almost every clubber has a sense of agency about the music you play, which I love, but there’s also a massive freedom and excitement in playing to a crowd who simply wish to be entertained and engaged. In a lot of ways, when you lose that high level of musical context, then you’re enabled to get closer to what makes people move at a more visceral level. I’ve been living here full time since last year, and I’m even getting married here to my Mexican girlfriend in 3 weeks, so Mexico is definitely home for me now.”
How do the two clubs featured in the documentary, MN Roy and Topaze, reflect Mexico City and Monterray?
“They represent the alternative, but in different ways. Monterrey doesn’t have an underground offering other than TOPAZdeluxe, and Mexico City has a huge underground offering, but MN Roy offers an alternative and personalised way to experience it.”
Was there anything you learnt making the documentary?
“The fact that every contributor both mentioned that there is a “Mexican Sound” and uniformly agreed on what that was, despite the fact that it had never been discussed prior to the interviews, and indeed isn’t a conversation that’s happening here – that just goes to prove that it’s just out there, and people are picking up on it.”
The film discusses the current political climate in Mexico and the impact that has on clubs, music and night life in general. The clubs and music almost represent an element of freedom and unity. Is that why you’ve based yourself in Mexico?
“I’ve only really been visible in music for a few years, but I’ve been involved in clubbing and electronic music for a very long time, and after a while you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen everything there is to see. Mexico represents a newness and vitality that allows me to get closer to what moves people. The size of my record collection, the gigs I’ve played in the past, my knowledge of Chicago house, or disco, or Detroit techno or anything like that, has absolutely no bearing on my value to the dance floor if I can’t move them on a base level. There’s a certain truth in that, and there’s a certain energising factor in being involved in something while it’s still growing and still identifying and realising itself. Europe is increasingly about clubs closing, and more and more rules being imposed to turn them in to safe and profitable environments. Mexico isn’t like that, partly because of the socio-political situation here and partly just because of the vibe in general. People here are just looking for ways to dance, which surely is what it’s all about really.”
What’s next for you?
“The biggest thing for me in my future is the launch of my own record label, Me Me Me. I felt the next step from being in charge of the music on the dance floors I play, was to be in charge of the music for a record label, so I’ve roped in a bunch of contributions from friends who I admire (DJ Tennis, Red Axes, Axel Boman, Rex The Dog, Daniel Maloso, Last Waltz, MIke Simonetti, Hammer, Fagin and a whole bunch more) to try and give a snapshot of where I am musically. We’re living in a great time where eclecticism is totally acceptable in electronic music, so in essence everyone is their own genre. This is just me trying to show what I’m moved by, and trying to find like minded people. Which isn’t too far removed from what you do as a DJ anyway.”
Directed and filmed by Jasper Brown.
Edited by Pawel Ptak.