Many ask when did the Gangs first begin to appear in San Miguel. Gangs can only develop when certain conditions exist. These conditions were fostered by the work of one man Stirling Dickinson who founded San Miguel February 7, 1937. Under the cover of being an artist, it appears he became the first real estate speculator.
When Dickinson first arrived in San Miguel in 1937 he and his writing partner had purchased an old tannery on Santo Domingo on the way to the Atascadero Hotel above town for the equivalent of 90 U.S. dollars. The present property is worth in the millions of dollars.
House prices started to rise after Life Magazine wrote an article on San Miguel
A three-page spread appeared in the January 5, 1948, edition under the headline “GI Paradise: Veterans go to Mexico to study art, live cheaply and have a good time.” This was possible when apartments rented for US$10 a month, servants cost US$8 a month, rum was 65 cents a quart and cigarettes cost 10 cents a package.
Even the Counterculture – the Merry Pranksters, came to San Miguel in the 1960’s. So now San Miguel was HIP.
The formula for making San Miguel successful and attracting the kinds of people who form gangs revolved around four things
- Living Cheaply
- Having a Good Time
- Being Hip
Once these four elements were in place then the marketing began. Good marketing discovers the Selling Benefit of each product and touts if can do for the resident.
The purpose of art is to fill walls in houses where there are lots of walls. A good rule of thumb is there can never be enough art so Art Galleries in San Miguel use as their selling benefit – Fill that Wall. A bare wall shows an empty soul or not much money.
Here is a house in Centro. This example is just a start. There are still lots of spaces to fill.
Carol and Norma have it all on their site Falling in Loving with San Miguel. Read their Forums for more details on living cheaply.
And the Cheap Gang have it as their mission to find more Bargains.
Having a Good Time
The local Chamber of Commerce in San Miguel has as its mission statement to create a fiesta for every day in San Miguel. Fireworks announce a new Fiesta early in the morning or late at night. In fact one local just sets off fireworks for no reason other to drive the gringos to town to find out what is going on and perhaps buy one of his tamales.
One of the most meaningful Fiestas held in January is the Blessing of the Poodles.
Photo Credit to Susan Dorf
But it is just more than dogs having fun. Here is an excerpt of an article by Bill called San Miguel The Town that Parties Too Much
These are the times when the locals can dress up in drag, call themselves “Los Locos,” the crazies, and dance to their heart’s content. But the masks they wear must never reveal the face behind it, just as everyday life demands that the true soul be submerged to society’s standard. The crazies have just found a happier way of dealing with conformity
And this only the tip of the Funberg in San Miguel.
Gangs recognize that everyone who comes to San Miguel once overused the word Cool. So they have made being Hip is a hyponym for Living in San Miguel. The very fact you move there makes you Hip, Cool, Grovy, Deck. Join a Gang and you become a Senior Hipster. Life can’t get any better than being way cool than your grandchildren. In fact many grandparents in San Miguel ask their grandchildren to call them by their first name and on visits to San Miguel will often exchange clothing.
From a newsletter
November 25, 1999, 35 hipsters from Kerrville arrived in San Miguel de Allende to attend the International Jazz Festival. Kirpal Gordon performed the jazz invocation in poetry while Tomas Ramirez blew his horn as the Thanksgiving evening concert began. Sareda Miloscz, editor of El Independiente, gave a short lecture to the group before the show. “We have about 3500 foreigners living here, and it’s a young, creative community. We have 35 organizations dedicated to helping the local community.” After Sareda’s talk, the group hit the streets. The 18-hour bus ride from the parking lot at Schreiner University was a mere prelude to the journey ahead, one that lasted until Sunday, November 28.
Ranging from 10 years old to 82, the crew of road warriors took advantage of every opportunity this artist colony had to offer. Each night the tribe gathered at Teatro Angela Peralta on Mesones for an evening of jazz music.
Who doesn’t want to hang out with a Hip 82 year old, with a facelift and wearing her granddaughters outfits?