In May 2010 I made a short three-day visit to Mexico City. I spent a Friday night in Distrito Federal with my artist friends Sandra and Pedro, who lived in the historic core of the capital, just a few blocks from the Zócalo.
They took me out on a night tour of peso-for-dance halls, cabaret-style spots which were once, in the 1950s, the pinnacle of decadence and fun.
These clubs are known as ficheras – ficha means token – since the dancers used to collect tokens for the dance with the men who frequented these places; these were later cashed in for money.
Tokens have all but disappeared from these clubs, where payment is now in hard cash. Just like the tokens, the ficheras are slowly disappearing with the advent of strip clubs that started mushrooming in the 1990s. Now almost a relic, only a few remain in Mexico City.