It was a scene straight out of the surrealism manual. Hordes of Mexican punks and emo's going head to head, with a hundred cops in between. But the battle was only ended by the intervention of Hare Krishna's followers. These days mark 15 years since that epic battle of subcultures in Ciudad de México.
Mexico's capital is a fertile breeding ground for subcultures of all kinds. All classes are represented in this vibrant multi-million ecosystem, from the simplest in the favelas to gangsters and artists to office rats and the filthy rich. People in this anthill like to differentiate themselves and identify with a group of like-minded people. And along with a very rampant and creative lifestyle, there's a good number of all sorts of subculture projects.
The problem arises when some of them get into each other's hair. This was most evident 15 years ago during the now legendary battle of two worlds: representatives of the punk movement with a long history vs. emo, which was then at the height of its short glory.
On Sunday, March 16, 2008, dozens of people from these groups clashed in Glorieta Insurgentes - square in the central part of the city - in a surreal, almost comical battle between punks in heavy boots and emos with their tousled haircuts. It is remembered to this day, and I have retold this hilarious story to my Czech countrymen countless times as proof that nothing in Mexico is crazy enough. Magical surrealism at its best.
It was all unleashed online even then. Followers of the emo style complained about threats and aggression from punks on social networks like MySpace. For example, they said they were sent emails threatening to lynch them. Eventually, they agreed to meet on the famous square on that fateful day for a peaceful demonstration for tolerance between subcultures. But the punks decided to make their meeting uncomfortable and to show up as well. Today, they claim that they attacked the emos just for fun, but according to contemporary sources, they also had their reason for discontent - they accused the emos of copying their style and not having their own identity.
Anyway, masses of people from the two rival tribes gathered in the square and started shouting at each other. The verbal attacks escalated into a scuffle and then into a mass brawl. A hundred police officers were even called to the scene, but even after several hours of fighting, they were unable to break the participants apart.
What the lawmen failed to do, the men of religion succeeded in doing. A procession of Hare Krishna followers with their drums entered the scene and urged both sides of the dispute to join them. Only then did the situation calm down and the participants parted ways. Surprisingly there were no major injuries to anyone. However, similar brawls spilled over into several other Mexican cities after this event.
Today, this event is remembered with a smile and as proof of how crazy a Sunday afternoon in Ciudad de México can get. Or, as one local website wrote in the introduction to one of the many commemorative articles: "In Ciudad de México you will encounter all sorts of events that surpass fiction."