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Los Locos Unmasked
Like You've Never Seen It Before

by Dr. David, Editor / Publisher

Things got out of hand last time, so, in the interest of public health, the city government put certain restrictions on this year's Los Locos parade. They limited the procession to 50 bands of no more than 100 dances each. Apparently, things got a little out of hand last time.

No fan of candy myself, not in favor of spectators being hit in the eye by those hard projectiles, none-the-less, I objected to the prohibition on airborne sweets. I have gotten to the point in life where most changes seem offensive. Call me a traditionalist.

Of course, no one asked me my opinion. If they had, I would have had a suggestion for them: lower the decibel level. Most of the trucks, preceding and providing the soundtrack for each troupe of locos, each contain enough speakers to amplify a concert at a mid-sized arena.

I think the dancers would find ample inspiration without it quite so loud. I am sure that after following these miniature "walls-of-sound" through the streets for hours, they all have temporary hearing loss, at least. Permanent hearing loss is the tragic fate of those sweet young boys seated on the back of each truck, all so delighted with their privileged vantage hardly a meter away from those banks of speakers.

In my ten years in San Miguel, I've attended the parade twice. The decibel level, the broiling sun and the crowd itself, were too much for me. Then, each year, I get my dose of Los Locos without leaving home. Two weeks of celebrations, leading up to the big day, take place in the plaza in front of the Church of San Antonio. I live right behind that house of worship; a small part of their back courtyard wall is actually the south wall of my kitchen.

Each evening of these preliminary two weeks, finds another troupe dancing their way to the plaza, behind the obligatory sound truck, over amplified at any distance. Waiting for them on the plaza are numerous food stands vendors and crowds of people. Some evenings, the route of this mini Los Locos parade takes them up 20 de Enero, by the mouth of my short dead end. I go out my front door, watch and listen. Every evening, regardless of which route they took to get there, I can hear them whooping it up in front of the church. Every evening I hear the cuetes, the aerial quarter sticks of dynamite, exploding right overhead. I've learned to brace myself when I hear the one second of whistling that sounds between their launch and detonation.

This year, Saturday, the day before the big event, I retreated up the hill, to Veronica's, in colonia Allende. I was already awake Sunday morning before dawn, in no rush to get out of bed, when, off in the darkness, down the hill, directly above my house in colonia San Antonio, a long volley of cuetes exploded. From personal experience, I knew that ten or twelve blowing up right overhead is impressive. But these were volleys of at least 24, being repeated in short intervals, less than a minute, as fast as they could attach the electronic detonator to the next rack in waiting. That's something, even at a distance.

I got up, washed up, and sat down to write. Then I went to Photoshop and mocked-up my recent inspiration for a new design for Lokkal's computer homepage. At nine o'clock Veronica was just waking up, as I was about to set off, bicycling the down to the Salida a Celaya, where, I could already hear, the parade was forming.

The parade is the performance, but I wanted to be backstage before the event. The parade is a massive display. I wanted to document a more singular, more intimate experience. I wanted photos of the people inside the costumes.

Everyone was very friendly, happy to be photographed by this crazy gringo, who insisted on photographing them first without their masks or headpieces in place. After snapping both photos I would tell the young men with their frightening masks, "No se cual cara es más timoroso," I don't know which face is scarier.

When I showed up, only one truck had its speakers playing, and those at less than full volume. As I walked up and down the Salida, I always gave the rear of that truck a wide berth. But as the start of the parade drew closer, and more and more locos arrived, other trucks powered up their sound systems.

The clouds that more than half-filled the sky would be a blessing to the heavily costumed dancers and to the spectators arriving now in ever greater numbers. But I had seen enough. And with the music already over my limits, I had also heard enough.

 

 

With dozens of photos, my work was finished. I jumped on my bicycle and rode up the hill, back to Vero's, my mind and my stomach already thinking about brunch.

 

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Dr. David presents Lokkal, the social network, the prettiest, most-efficient way to see San Miguel online. Our Wall shows it all. Join and add your point of view.

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