photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Night of the living-it-up dead

Parading around as elegantly dressed skeletons is so much fun in San Miguel de Allende that apparently, it takes two parades over two days to fit it all in this year.

In the past, it was sufficient to stage one parade of promenading Calaveras, Catrinas, and Catrins — and a variety of other-worldly subsets in various manifestations of theatricality.

Last year, after the wastelands of Covid had subsided and a rebirth of traditions signaled a new dawn, the annual Dia de Muertos parade was a joyous traffic jam of humanity. Skeletons paraded en mass down the Ancha. Preciously costumed Catrinas and their cohorts, led by a masterful and exuberant Mariachi band, exited the sanctuary of the Rosewood and paraded toward the Ancha.

The two masses converged and ground to a halt as paraders funneled up the narrower Zacateras, made narrower by the density of the watchers on both sides of the road. It was a slow slog up to the Jardin where seeing and being seen is the endgame of the evening.

This year, the Rosewood retinue was culled into a separate evening — that was last night — of adult-ish orientation, and routed through Parque Juarez and back to the fortress of financial solitude for some elegant dining. Of course, their parade wasn’t a closed loop. Hundreds of wildly dressed folks joined them on the street in front of the hotel, danced to the Mariachi music, and entered the park.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t go into the park to see the parade. The park is romantically — that is, lightly — lit and the sidewalks are too narrow for paraders and parade-watcher to share, in my opinion. Not great for shooting photographs. Besides, we were enjoying a delicious tapas dinner with friends at Venencia restaurant on Zacateros. Too good, too much fun, to go chasing skeletons before the last bite was consumed.

Besides the confusion outside the Rosewood made for great fun and various people kept shouting “¡Vamos! ¡Vamos! ¡Vamos!” while being heeded by almost no one. There was some frustration. A grimly determined phalanx of Catrinas moved through the crowd, refusing to stop for photos and uncharacteristically shouting “No! No way! No way!” when asked to pose.


It seems to me that being seen in costume and having your photo taken for posterity is the point of it all. If not vanity, then for what purpose do people spend hours and hundreds of dollars getting up in skeleton drag?

Well, they were the exception. As you can see, plenty more reveled in the night, the attention, and the surrealism of it all.

It wasn’t a perfect parade. It wasn’t the best of parades. But it was just crazy and anarchistic enough to squeak some fresh joy into a cool breezy night. I hope the post-paradeial dinner at the Rosewood lived up to every promenader’s expectations.

Let them eat cake?

And ….

We’ll get to do it all over again tonight!

Only different.

Tonight is the more traditional and established parade. It starts at 5 p.m. — daylight! — at the top of the Ancha, marches down the broad thoroughfare and up Zacateras, around Centro, and ends up in the Jardine where costumed marchers can primp, pose and present pulchritude to the public.

Starting in daylight promises a more-family oriented parade, something for the masses.

And a chance for everyone from Tuesday night’s parade to do it all over again.

I can’t wait.

(Click on each picture to enlarge:)


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5 thoughts on “Night of the living-it-up dead

  1. Love your posts, Robert. We stayed to listen to the mariachi music in Parque Juarez and it was magical! Just wish I knew all the Spanish songs so I could have been singing along with the other hundreds.


  2. Pingback: Dia de Muertos parade No. 2: Dead can dance | Musings, Magic, San Miguel and More

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