Over the years, as Monterrey’s cumbia morphed into its own thing, a style emerged among its working-class listeners that is neither Colombian nor Mexican. Nor anything else, really.
Every Sunday afternoon, after dancing all weekend at bars and clubs around town, a bunch of Mexican Colombianos gather outside the 7-Eleven at the bottom of the Latino Tower in downtown Monterrey. Taking their cues from LA’s cholos and some mythical ideal of tropical Colombia, they wear huge plaid and Hawaiian shirts over the baggiest Dickies you’ve ever seen. These are color-coordinated with their Converse and shoelaces whenever possible (one kid we met rotates four pairs of Chucks with seven different colors of laces) and then topped with a customized baseball cap worn just tight enough that it doesn’t cover their whole head but gingerly rests on their bangs. Every visible inch of hat space is cluttered with airbrushed or embroidered writing, including its wearer’s nickname, his girlfriend’s name, his clique’s name, the radio station he listens to, the neighborhood he’s from, etc.
Some Colombianos also wear religious-style icons called escapularios around their necks with images of San Judas Tadeo, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the increasingly popular Santa Muerte, and even Pancho Villa for protection. These started out similar to the ones monks wear but quickly evolved into giant homemade banners that can be used to broadcast information similar to the hats. Clique names such as Los Temelocos, La Dinastia de los Rapers, Foxmafia, and Latinaz are embroidered in huge letters across 12” x 12” pieces of fabric. One kid we saw had the number 10.90 embroidered in his escapulario. I asked him if it was a radio station he liked, and he told me that it was code for toluene, the chemical in paint thinner that gets you high.
These scapular signs are excellent, but the most important aspect of Colombiano fashion is its signature haircut, which draws equal parts inspiration from American hip-hop, Puerto Rican reggaeton, and ancient depictions of Aztec warriors. The back is shaved, leaving a rat tail at the bottom. The top is kept short and spiky, with meticulously trimmed, Romulan-era emo bangs in front. Finally and most important, they grow long, Snoopy-like sideburns that start at the top of their heads and are glued to their cheeks with sickeningly large handfuls of hair gel. They call this Estilo Colombiano. [ via ]