The word antro has its origin in the Latin "antrum," meaning “grotto” or “cavern.” In Mexico, until the '90s, the term referred to bars or entertainment places of dubious reputation. But nowadays, and especially among younger people, this word refers to any bar or nightclub.
One time, while talking with flutist Alejandro Escuer, we imagined the title of a future work, one that would synthesize the music of Mexico's legendary dance halls and bars: Antrópolis, a neologism, a precise invented name for a piece that narrates the sound of the city through its dance halls and nightclubs.
In 2017, conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto commissioned me to write a short work—brilliant and rather light-hulled—to be premiered at the close of a concert celebrating the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass, performed by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Given the parameters of the commission, I retrieved the title we had imagined, and thus Antrópolis came to life. It is a piece in which I wanted to pay a very personal tribute to some of those "antros" or emblematic dance halls of Mexico City that left a special sonorous imprint in my memory. These cabarets or dance halls that represent the nostalgia for rumberas and live dance orchestras, such as "El Bombay," where it is said that Che Guevara would twirl; or the "Salón Colonia," which seems to have come out of dreams taken from a film of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Who doesn't remember the fun ballroom "Los Infiernos,” a perfect place for those who after a long day at work would leave their cubicles to go dancing, drink, and listen to music. Finally, the memory of the bar "Tutti Frutti" leaves an impression, where I first met the punk couple who own the "antro", and where you could listen to experimental music from the 1980s.
Antrópolis is the sonorous reflection of a city through its "antros", including the accumulation of experiences that we bring, and that form an essential part of our history in this very complex but fascinating Mexico City.