Christmas Carols & Costume Changes

Our two big Christmas concerts (Carols and School-Wide) totally rocked and went off without a hitch. However, no show is complete without a little wardrobe malfunction; and at the Carols Concert that supreme honor was mine.

My classmates and I gathered at the Casa de la Cultura IV República on a Sunday morning to warm up for a widely-advertised hour of Mexican Carols. The venue is located on the northern border of Mexico City’s historic downtown, sandwiched between two bustling outdoor markets spanning several blocks. Thus we anticipated a large crowd of parents, grandparents, and taco vendors.

Warming up, and some of us still waking up, before the Carols Concert
Warming up, and some of us still waking up, before the Carols Concert

After warm-up, our teacher told us we had 20 minutes to change into our costumes. Relatives were starting to file in. Girls grabbed their duffels, carefully packed with their traditional Mexican garb, curling irons, and makeup, and beelined for the dressing room. It was then that I realized that I, in typical Katie fashion, had left my costume at home.

Suddenly terrified of my teacher, I gulped, approached him, and told him in my politest Spanish possible that I would not be able to sing. He gave me a look that he frequently gives to students when they arrive late to class and blame it on traffic. You want me to feel sorry for you? He reached out and grabbed a wandering, beefy tenor named Fidel and told him to accompany me out into the marketplace. We had 15 minutes to find my costume, a traditional hospital gown-like thing called a huipil.
My teacher and The Look
My teacher and The Look

In the chaos that is a Sunday morning market downtown, Fidel and I frantically ran from one vendor to another, covering three blocks and weaving our way across streets congested with cart-pushers, asking, or really begging, for huipiles. People looked at us like we were crazy. They sold prom dresses, spatulas, broken VCRs…but huipiles? Try Oaxaca.

Just when we were about to give up, a man selling touristy Oaxacan scarves beckoned us with a whistle. He reached into a pile of merchandise and came up with – voila – a white, shrink-wrapped huipil. He charged me a pretty steep $20 for it, but at this point I had no choice but to fork it over the cash and run.

Me and my ladies are totally stylin in our new huipiles (gowns) and rebosos (shawls))
Me and my ladies are totally stylin' in our new huipiles (gowns) and rebosos (shawls))

Here are two clips from our Carols concert. I chose these because the first has a very straightforward 2/4 rhythm, and the second is a little more complex.

  • [audio:
  • Title: Zagales Pastores (The Shepherd Lads)
    Origin: Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas

  • [audio:
  • Title: México, Ángel y Pastor (Mexico, Angel and Shepherd)
    Origin: Michoacán

    My next post will feature some sounds from the School-wide Concert the following day, where the costumes get even snazzier….

    4 thoughts on “Christmas Carols & Costume Changes

    1. Hi Katie, I loved the photos, the story, and the music. We’re freezing right now in Michigan, but you warmed up my afternoon. Have fun and keep the news coming.


    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s