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    Un baile clandestino sorprendido : 42 hombres aprehendidos, unos vestidos de mujeres
    El Popular : Diario independiente de la mañana (México, D. F., México). -- Nov. 20, 1901.
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    "Un baile clandestino sorprendido: 42 hombres aprehendidos, unos vestidos de mujeres." El Popular: Diario independiente de la mañana (Mexico City), November 20, 1901.
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There were forty-two people at the dance. Later it was discovered that one of them was actually a woman, but it was never clarified if she was just the housekeeper or a go-between, leading the guests to clandestine sites. They recognized “some of the young men who are seen every day walking along Plateros” (now Madero Avenue) “who would wear the most elegant women’s dresses, wigs, falsies, earrings and embroidered brogues, and whose faces would be painted with great circles under their eyes and chapas [patches] of color.” The offense they were charged with was “an attack on morality.” To fuel the scandal and increase sales of the daily newspaper, it was categorically stated that “we are not going to give our readers any more details, because they are totally disgusting.”


The sensational newspaper, El Popular, could not let the scandalous raid of the clandestine dance of the Forty-One go unremarked, as it was a public event that offered lots of lucrative chances. Participants included young men of Mexico City’s high society—or relatives of politicians—dressed up as women. Such was the state of the rumor mill that a family member of President Porfirio Díaz was implicated in the affair. In addition, the actual names of almost all the participants were omitted; perhaps those whose were published were false or were those of people who lacked financial resources. Thus an apparent “offense” was established (more moral than legal), since it was believed that to swear off virility and misdirect your natural instincts was in conflict with the obligation to reproduce and educate children. No legal offense was cited because in Mexico, since constitutional law has existed, there has never been any offense or legal impediment associated with homosexuality or effeminate conduct. From that night on, in Mexican culture, to say “forty-one” has been both a reference to homosexuality and an indicator of intolerance.

Through portraits and caricatures, artists such as José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), Diego Rivera (1886-1957), José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) and Antonio Ruiz (1897-1964) ridiculed and attacked the feminization of a certain sector in Mexican culture.

Alejandro García
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico

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