"The most important things in life are in the SMALLEST details"
01. Getting to know Alejandro payan
For Alejandro Payan, known simply as Payan, objects have voices of their own. There is a consciousness in quality, well-made things that, if we take the time to look closely, we can engage with and relate to. “We can hear them telling us their stories. Where they’ve been, what they’ve seen”, he says. Finding these items across his vast Mexico City is his mission and his passion.
With a the city’s sprawling landscape in front of him, offering an ocean of item archaeology, he finds the best way to encounter these things is to simply stay present and observant in every moment – letting these things find him.
In Mexico City, the “jungla de concreto”, everything moves – fast. The number of stimuli is infinite, so, just like his vintage item trasure hunting, Payan recommends visitors not go searching with too much specificity. “Just be present”, he says, and the city will reveal itself to you, with its thousands of culinary, cultural, and architectural treasures that every corner of the city offers.
Some objects lucky enough to be found by Payan adorn the shelves of his beautiful vintage concept store, R.revolveR. revolver Vintage is a Mexican brand of vintage clothing and accessories that promotes environmentally-friendly consumption, up-cycling and rejuvenation. With no rules and a genderless approach, their pieces express freedom and authenticity. It’s a must-see shopping destination while in CDMX (even for the likes of Dua Lipa, who was snapped in the store recently).
Curated with an eye for quality and craftsmanship, the selection includes travel goods, photography, sustainable fashion, and works from local Mexico City talent.
When not rifling through his own treasure trove, Payan recommends on Sundays J Jardin Pushkin where you’ll find TTianguis de Antigüedades a weekend market brimming with antiques (open Saturdays 8am – 3pm).
03. IN SEARCH OF INSPIRATION
As a passionate photographer (for this classic soul, only film of course), you’ll often find Payan making his way through the streets of Centro seeking inspiration; A Donceles one of Mexico City’s oldest streets is one of his favorite trails, and a short walk from there you can find MMUNAL (National Museum of Art).
His tip: If you’re a Spanish speaker heading to MUNAL (or any other museum or gallery), find a moment to chat with the exhibition room guards – they always have something to say about the exhibitions; they are the ones spending all day taking them in.
To get around, it’s simple: “Take the metro. It connects the entire city and tourists don’t use it enough.”
04. tourist spots worth a visit
Named for famous Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros this space is adorned with some of his work and regularly hosts exhibitions and cultural events.
While working in his museum studies internship at the space, Payan discovered that one of its main attractions is almost hidden: La Bóveda del Foro Universal. He recommends requesting (from any staff member there) a visit to this space within the venue. Here you’ll find a viewing space where the central platform rotates while you hear Siqueiros’ voice narrating the meaning of the magnificent mural, “The March of Humanity.”
Other spots you’ll find Payan braving the tourist crowd are the canals of XXOCHIMILCO where he recommends making it there on time for a dawn kayak paddle; or take your (analog) camera to the MMICTLAN CAVE near TTEOTIHUACAN around 1.5 hours north east of Mexico City.
We all have rituals, and for Payan, exercise is one of them. “It’s essential in my life, it’s a form of meditation. Ever since I can remember, it’s been my safe zone”. If you share a similar ritual, you’ll find parks or open-air exercise areas around Mexico City, with pull-up bars and other equipment to work out for a while.
“On the bars, you’ll never be without neighborhood cumbias and a great street atmosphere.”
To join him, or to find your own exercise space in the city, Payan recommends R JARDIN RAMÓN LÓPEZ VELARDE, a green oasis near HHOSPITAL GENERAL, with trails, rock climbing, and exercise equipment; or DDeportivo Valle Escandón, an inclusive and free public space for everything active: football, martial arts, dancing classes, and more (just remember to take some photo ID with you to enter this one).
Another ritual: Driving. For Payan this is of course in his 1975 Ford Mustang. The soundtrack: silence. He travels the streets of his hometown with just the sound of the city and of the engine.
With life never certain, he’s adamant about “enjoying the journey”.
06. Night venues and secret culinary delights
Food drives me crazy,” shares Payan. He recommends the Ramen de JJAMETARO in SSANTA MARIA, the chef’s dining experience in LC.O.M.E, and a good carajillo (hot coffee with Licor 43) from PPáramo. Stepping outside, Payan likes to find places to listen to live jazz, such as CCASA FRANCA, and for a bit more of a rock vibe, he recommends BBEBOPS If you’re in the mood for something a little more “nationalistic” he says with a smile, he recommends going to GPlaza GARIBALDI to take in some Mariachi, with the best fun to be had between 9:00pm and 3:00am. (don’t be too cool for the toques).
A romantic at heart, you’ll often find him at a table at the famous LLA ÓPERA BAR. In an art nouveau style building you can see in the video, you can sit under the famous bullet hole in the ceiling, left by 1911 revolutionary PANCHO VILLA. It’s an iconic place that’s still living and breathing today, ideal for relaxing with a stiff drink and traditional Mexican fare, accompanied by a talented mariachi band. A uniquely Mexican experience.
FAVORITE BAR FOR A CONDESA GIN:
BEST LATE-NIGHT CHILL SPOT:
BEST DANCING SPOT:
FAVORITE STREET FOOD SPOT:
-mercado medellin Q Anything around Mercado Medellin (especially in December)
-donceles street D For those who live and breathe cameras, strolling down the streets unveils hidden treasures.