Oh, we’d heard the stories alright.
Vague directions whispered in the night.
Crude maps hastily drawn upon cocktail napkins, set aflame after committing route to memory.
Groups of drunken Marines staggering down Avenida Revolución, one Lance Corporal holding a bloodied elbow against his torso.
His screams still echo in mind: That fuckin’ chimp took a bite out my arm!
Yes, we are here in search of the mythical Cantina de Chango: The Monkey Bars of Tijuana!
It’s a fine sunny Saturday as we meet at the Pierview in Oceanside, one last headcount before the border crossing.
It’s a first for us, playing south of the border, and we are traveling with our pals in Walk Proud and Skaal as backup.
And, yes, we are always eager to spread the ol CH3 gospel to new lands and all that.
But also the chance to drink alongside a shrieking Gibbon or perhaps a rotund Orangutan? Well!
From the swanky Rodeway Inn it’s a quick walk to the pedestrian border crossing and we’re in country!
We chatter, giddy as school children, each holding hands with our designated buddies: sweaty palms sealing this pact.
We imagine the doors opening to a darkened bar, and the denizens turn as one to inspect the new comers.
Azure spots dance before our eyes as we adjust to the darkness.
We finally make out wee forms smoking and drinking at the bar.
Dwarves? Wizened old wisemen?
No, these are certainly Hominoid creatures, yet somehow…furry.
We are corralled aboard a creaky yellow trolley and barrel deeper into the city.
The blue haze of wood smoke hangs in the air, the nightclubs along Revolución coming awake now as sun sets toward Wild Sábado night.
We peer out the windows for any sign of le Pub Monk, but nothing.
Ah well, we are here to do a job, and soon load into the TJ Arte and Rock club off Avenida Miguel Negrete.
It is a proper club, big old PA, lights……fog machine!
I don’t know what we were expecting, perhaps a cartel-run chop shop, or an outdoor stage of pallets with amps powered by generator?
But we find this Tijuana a very cool place.
To a person, everyone we run into is courteous and happy.
And the clubs are even nicer due to the lack of Guerro Bros from SDSU!
Past trips to TJ, the only dangers were obnoxious fratboys treating the town like a disposable playground, acting like drunken……well, monkeys!
After load in we head out for Tacos and beverage:
Our SD local bub Dennis guides us over to tiny Ruebens, and though we are initially disappointed that no one is swinging off the fixtures or flinging feces about the room, it turns out a jolly little haven!
The night is alive now.
We make our way back toward the club, passing packed restaurants and clubs full of life.
We peek hopefully into dim alleys and darkened doorways for any sign of prehensile tails, listen for the tell tale shriek of haplorhine primate boozing.
Alright then, Showtime!
Systematic Abuse is ripping it up when we get back to the club, and then our buddies in Walk Proud take to the stage:
It isn’t long before Steve lights up a smoke onstage and Karl shocks the crowd by stripping down to a tiny thong.
But that’s the beauty of this place–freedom!!!
And then we’re pushed onstage and do the thing once again–ándale!!
There is tequila, oh yes there is.
We end the night skanking to 45 Revoluciones and hugging it up with a dozen new pals.
Bacon wrapped Hot Dog? Check!
Liter de Patron? You got it mate.
Switchblade and Homer Simpson Cookie Jar? Handled.
Some wise guy brings the ubiquitous surfing monkey onboard, but this only reminds us of our failure to drink à la Jane Goodall.
We make it back across to the boring old USA and are soon snoring away, a syncopated symphony of restless sleep.
We dream of a world where the apes serve a jaunty Moscow Mule, then light your fag with a snap of the Zippo.
But until that day, we have indeed met the monkey, and we are them.
Awesome photos by David Chi