Exploring Mexico City’s Club Music Underworld

NAAFI IS BUILDING AN ELECTRONIC MUSIC EMPIRE BY EMBRACING SOUNDS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBAL RAVE CIRCUIT.

WRITER: Nico Amarca PHOTOGRAPHER: Carlos Martí STYLIST: Nayeli de Alba STYLIST ASSISTANT: Alejandro Abarca HAIR & MAKEUP: Fernanda Acuña
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Mexico City is a prime destination for the global club scene. Allured by its affordable prices, high-octane energy and expansive nightlife districts, millions flock to the Mexican capital annually to while away over tequila, pulsing dance floors and thumping DJ sets. CDMX’s reputation as an international EDM hotspot precedes it, and until a few years ago, its club scene favored the ubiquitous Western flavors of mainstream house and techno tracks over homegrown genres of dance music. NAAFI sought to end this. 

Established in 2010 as a party collective and short for “No Ambition and Fuck-All Interest,” NAAFI’s DJs fused trademark Latin sounds like cumbia, reggaeton and banda with aggressive electronic subgenres spanning industrial, hardstyle and drum and bass. Headed up by Tomás Davó (aka Fausto Bahía), Alberto Bustamante (aka Mexican Jihad) and Lauro Robles (aka Lao), the crew set out to redefine the codes of Latin club music. “If we were going to stand out internationally, we needed to do something completely different from everyone else in the house and techno space,” says Robles. "So we decided to incorporate the sounds and rhythms that were familiar to us in a club setting with other global music we liked.”

The hybrid sonics that define NAAFI’s aural aesthetic proved popular among Mexico City’s nightlife locals, but they also possess a pan-hemispheric appeal: The collective now boasts its own record label that releases music from avant-minded artists outside of Mexico (London, New York, Tokyo) in addition to tracks from its core roster. 

As Mexico City braces for a flurry of party-starved crowds as COVID safety restrictions loosen, Davó, Bustamante and Robles reflect on their nearly 11 years of redefining the city’s club music culture, the risky excitement of re-entering nightlife and passing on the torch to the next generation of genre-defying club kids.

LEFT: Jean Paul Gaultier vintage top; 1017 ALYX 9SM buckle necklace; stylist's own sunglasses. RIGHT: 1017 ALYX 9SM Nightrider puffer coat; 1017 ALYX 9SM buckle detail bodysuit; Mancandy wide-leg cargo trousers; Nike sneakers; Oakley custom Plazma sunglasses.   

Before NAAFI, there really wasn’t a physical club space or label that catered to weird crazy electronica from Latin America.

Tomás Davó

Givenchy shirt in printed poplin with zips.    
LEFT: ASOS organic slim fit T-shirt; FUBU vintage sweatpants; Nike sneakers; Telfar Small Greenscreen Shopping Bag; vintage sunglasses. CENTER: Jean Paul Gaultier vintage top; Mancandy wide-leg trousers; ASOS DESIGN lace-up calf boots; 1017 ALYX 9SM buckle necklace. RIGHT: Haider Ackermann Magnolia trench coat; ASOS organic crew neck T-shirt; Rick Owens Bela trousers; Jil Sander chunky sole derby shoes; Burberry Milton sunglasses; Marine Serre moon cap; Cruzada x NAAFI necklace.   
LEFT: FUBU vintage sweatpants; Nike sneakers. RIGHT: Jean Paul Gaultier vintage top; Mancandy wide-leg trousers; ASOS DESIGN lace-up calf boots; 1017 ALYX 9SM buckle necklace; stylist's own sunglasses.   
LEFT: Givenchy shirt in printed poplin with zips; Y-3 classic refined skirt; Tepito boots; Prada Linea Rossa sunglasses; 1017 ALYX 9SM buckle necklace. CENTER: 1017 ALYX 9SM Nightrider puffer coat; 1017 ALYX 9SM buckle detail bodysuit; Mancandy wide-leg cargo trousers; Nike sneakers; Oakley custom Plazma sunglasses. RIGHT: UNDERCOVER striped long-sleeve top; Jil Sander straight cropped trousers; Nike sneakers; Cruzada x NAAFI necklace; Dries Van Noten Giles cap.   

Mexico City is still very grounded in its history and local culture [...] There’s a rawness here that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Tomás Davó