Comic-Con Mazatlán

DSC_2479©Ok, our local “Comic-Con” is a whole lot smaller than San Diego‘s, but it sure is a whole lot of fun and growing every year. The event also shows what one 20 year old young woman can do when she sets her mind to it! These young people know how to put on an event! And how to publicize it! Kudos and more kudos!

Yvonne Tirado, who is now 24, along with her team of six, just finished producing the fourth edition of Mazatlán’s “TomodachiFest,” a conference and “festival multicultural” that attracts young adults from at least three states who are passionate about anime, hip hop music, manga, comics, medieval arts and cosplay. I’ve been wanting to go for the past few years, but life didn’t let me attend until this year. And oh what energy and fun it was!

In my day we would maybe call these kids “geeks,” but here they call them “freaks.” They are largely highly intelligent, fun-loving and very creative young people who love fantasy, invest large amounts of time and talent in handcrafting costumes and memorabilia, and who are in seventh heaven once a year thanks to Yvonne and her team. The event this year took place on Saturday October 14th at the Convention Center from noon till 8pm. It was attended by well over 1100 people, mostly young adults, but also including children and families of “freaks.” Below are the poster and full program for this year’s event, as well as a photo of the t-shirt and main stage. Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

TomodachiFest (“tomodachi” means “friend” in Japanese, and Japan is, of course, birthplace of anime, manga and cosplay) Mazatlán came to be because Yvonne and her friends were complaining that local conferences offered nothing of interest to young adults. They decided to change that, and despite being full-time students with little to no budget, they birthed the festival. They continue to produce the festival as volunteers.

The high energy event has several things going on at the same time. There are projections of movies and Asian pop music; a karaoke singing contest as well as a dance and cosplay/costume contests; presentations by YouTubers, illustrators and actors who dub films; workshops in drawing, crafts, medieval archery, and ink drawing; and autograph events; and several video game tournaments throughout the day; and a medieval tournament that was held outside in the late afternoon.

The contests have celebrity judges who come from out of town, and the costumes really blew me away. I’m used to seeing incredible cosplay outfits in Japan, but here in Mazatlán, where I know everyone has to make their own costumes and equipment, it truly was impressive.

There is an exhibition hall for the conference, where those attending can buy memorabilia—some of it handmade, comics, and apparel. There were also several computer stations set up for the video game contests.

I had a chance to speak with Alon Ramirez, the internationally known creator and illustrator of “Chico Detergente,” about his work. Born in Culiacán and a former resident of Mazatlán, he now lives in Tepic:

There was a long line for Alon’s autograph, and he took time to sign every one quite memorably:

Congratulations to everyone involved in TomodachiFest Mazatlán! You are shining examples that an individual and a handful of talented souls can, indeed, make a difference!

AC/DC in Mazatlán!?

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AC/DC is easily one of the most recognized names in Rock & Roll. Their music can be heard all over the world, all over the radio and all over Mazatlán, streaming out of bars, nightclubs, pulmonías, aurígas and cars. To many they are Rock & Roll, with an appeal from today’s youth (like my 21-year-old son) to those who rocked to the band’s first album in 1975. After the original lead singer, Bon Scott, died in 1980, Brian Johnson stepped in and became the “voice” and “sound” of the band until his sudden retirement last year. Axl Rose stepped up to finish the tour, but the future of the band is now in doubt. One thing seems to be for sure: the days of hearing Brian Johnson belt out You Shook Me All Night Long are gone. But wait….

What if I told you that you could see a group called Highway to Hell, with a lead singer who can hit high notes like a young Brian Johnson? What if I told you that group will be playing in Mazatlán at the International Convention Center on Saturday, January 28? Would it help to know that this group not only sounds like AC/DC, but looks like them, right down to Angus Young’s schoolboy outfit and Brian’s hair? They have performed all over the world and are respected enough by the real AC/DC to have shared a stage with Brian Johnson and Cliff Williams (bass player, soon to be retired). They rocked Hermosillo in November (https://youtu.be/2fcxqdQeLNg) and recently played to over 10,000 in Mexico City. This is the closest you can get to seeing AC/DC and it is coming to you real soon.

How does something like this come to happen? The commitment and energy of a local expat and longtime music fan, Ray Wright of El Sol La Vida, is making this happen. He has partnered with Tecate, the Mazatlán International Center and TV Azteca. If it’s a success, and I’m sure it will be, he promises to bring more acts to Mazatlán. I had a chance to catch up with Ray recently, and here’s what he had to say. Pay special attention towards the middle for a special promise from the band if the event is a success:

To see AC/DC on their last tour was price prohibitive. Even back in the 80’s, I’m sure I paid over $20 US (plus parking) to see a concert. Call it flashback pricing or whatever you like, but Ray is able to bring us this amazing outdoor open-air event with multiple bands and a DJ, encompassing six hours of music, for only 200 pesos. If you are a VIP rocker these days, 600 pesos gets you a seat at a table. The tables are for eight people, so why not invite some friends to come along as well? Either way you can’t go wrong with affordable food and beverages easily available. Here are the quick facts:

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Saturday, January 28, 7:00 pm
Mazatlán International Center
Tickets 200 pesos (VIP 600) – available all over Mazatlán:

Gran Plaza (beginning Friday, January 13) – look for a special kiosk
Mazatlán International Center
Bikinis Bar in the Golden Zone (Thursday – Sunday 6 pm – 4 am)
Athina Spa – Calla Bellisario Dominguez 1600 in El Centro
Reason’s Hair Salon in the Marina
Surf’s Up Cafe
TBM Offices in Marina next to Dock 7
or by calling Ray Wright 669-146-1626

Schedule is more or less as follows:

Doors open at 6:00 with DJ Nhas starting at 6:30
Opening Act: Local band, Beggars Banquet 7:30 – 9:00
Highway to Hell takes the stage around 9:30 and plays until around 11:30 or midnight
DJ Nhas returns and will play music as long as people are buying beer!

Let’s face it, living in Mazatlán rocks (pun intended). But it means that to see an international performer or band, you have to travel to Monterrey, D.F., or even the United States. Tribute bands are a way to fill the void without traveling. And if you’re going to see a tribute band, you should see the best of breed, which Highway to Hell certainly is.

So So Excited!

FINANCIAMIENTO A HOTELES 1In a meeting at the Convention Center this morning, the Secretary of Tourism and Banorte-Ixe Group launched a new 200 million peso financing program with the goal of improving the tourist offerings and experience here in Mazatlán.

The program aims to create incentive for the building of 700 new rooms (a 10% increase over existing hotel space), with the ability to serve an additional 400,000 visitors annually. The program will also extend loans with favorable terms to tourist enterprises and small businesses in the hospitality field.

Loans will be from 500,000 to 9.5 million pesos, on credit without collateral, at interest rates of 11%, to be repaid over three years. Applications must be submitted between September and December 2013.

Oh so happy to see our state investing in our local businesses and families! May this money do a world of good!

Mazatlán International Center

Mazatlán is gorgeous, and I am very proud to say that we now have a state-of-the-art convention facility, the Mazatlan International Center. Please think about booking your next association or organizational event here in our gorgeous hometown!

The Mazatlán International Center is designed around an aquatic theme, and is the largest facility of its kind on the west coast of Mexico. It is located just north of town near the marina, and the facility’s largest hall accommodates up to 4500 people. Here is a video of the facility.

You see the marine theme from your first approach to the convention center. The fence street-side undulates like the waves of the ocean.  If you come by bus or park your car, you are greeted by shaded areas that evoke seagulls.

As you enter the facility there is a gorgeous open-air canopied space, which is constructed in the form of a manta ray.

As you enter the main building you walk between metaphorical whale ribs.
The artwork is fantastic. On the outside wall is, according the Guinness Book, the world’s largest mural, a three-dimensional mosaic of tile work called the “Sea of Cortez.”

The entry hall holds a painting that takes us on a whirlwind tour of history, and the hallways contain gorgeous paintings as well as glass sculpture, all echoing the maritime theme.
The ground level includes four meeting room named after the islands of Mazatlán: Isla Pájaros, Isla de Venados, Isla de Lobos (each accommodate 300 people), and Isla de la Piedra (room for 130 people), plus a large exhibition hall.
The mezanine has four meeting rooms, named after the beaches of Mazatlán: Playa Olas Altas is the largest, holding nearly 400 people; Playa Cerritos, Playa Sábalo and Playa Delfin each hold nearly 200 people. There is also a business center on this floor, with private meeting spaces, full secretarial services, and two restaurants.

The top floor holds the Gran Salón Mazatlán, which divides into six smaller rooms or, in its large format, holds up to 4500 people. The Carnaval meeting room also divides into three smaller rooms, and in its larger format holds 630. This floor is also where the kitchen is located.