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An Intimate Glance at the Outré Looks at Mexico City’s ‘Por Detroit’ Party

Photographer Kasia Zacharko offers a fleeting glimpse into Mexico's queer underground before the global lockdown.

It was a late Saturday afternoon on March 7th in Roma, a downtown neighborhood in Mexico City, when local DJ MNTY entered the sweltering dancefloor of the fabled queer party Por Detroit (which is Mexican slang “from the back”, which people use to refer to anal sex). “This was the last party I got to play before we entered quarantine later that month,” she told me. “I remember I was very excited because I had already attended a few of their parties and I still vividly recall the memorable ambiance, venues, and party-goers in exuberant outfits and drag—as well as the always welcoming, familiar faces of the scene.”

DJs Perfect Lovers and Kodemul started Por Detroit three years ago with the intention of creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to showcase their music tastes, drag performances, and art installations. Over the years, Por Detroit has gained notoriety within the city’s queer community for its use of unique venues—such as as the ex-women’s sports club at this particular night. It also offers free entry for trans people and drag artists.

Though one might assume that the party takes its name from techno’s own Motor City, it is the heyday of New York City’s club kid culture (championed by dancefloor socialites like Michael Alig and RuPaul in the late ’80s and early ’90s) that best expresses each out there look. One of the dancers, for example, swathed themselves in a long-sleeved white satin bridal gown with a black patent leather corset and choker. Meanwhile, a drag performer chose to bare-all in their brawny frame, rocking up in a pair of high-waisted spandex underwear, white cowboy hat adorned with long silver chains, and a carefully groomed moustache. Wherever their tastes lie, it’s clear that the kaleidoscope of characters at Por Detroit commit to the full costume. “The crowd is not only open to new music and genres but actively expresses its receptivity. People are truly there to have a good time and escape the judgment of every day [sic], as well as the mundanity of individual problems,” MNTY explains.

Just as MNTY was about to take the stage, she recalls how one of the dancers—in 10-inch heels and meticulously embroidered, strappy lingerie—asked her for the first track because the performer wanted to match the mood of her performance with the DJ’s sound. One of the show’s onlookers was Kasia Zacharko, a Berlin-based photographer whose work focuses on portraiture within the electronic music scene. Swipe through the gallery below for a glimpse into the Sound and Style at one of Mexico City’s most dazzling queer parties. MNTY best describes the gathering’s offbeat spirit when she says, “Their dancefloor is always unique, honest, and free.”

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Kasia Zacharko is a Polish photographer based in Berlin. Follow her on Instagram.

Check out Por Detroit’s podcast series on Soundcloud.