The Callejoneadas of Guanajuato revive stories every night

During the tour through the alleys, apart from performing songs, the members of the ensemble represent stories, legends, and short plays or fragments. It is an activity that combines the culture of Guanajuato at night.

The Callejoneadas of Guanajuato revive stories every night
Every night, in Guanajuato, the Callejoneadas retell local legends. Credit: Callejoneadas Guanajuato

Origin of legends and myths that are remembered night after night when they walked, the five thousand alleys and the network of subway tunnels that cross it constitute an attractive tourist product of the colonial city of Guanajuato.

One of the activities that every visitor to the colonial city of Guanajuato, capital of the state of the same name, should enjoy are the traditional callejoneadas or alleyway tours through its intricate network of small streets and subway tunnels, sources of countless stories, because without them it would be an incomplete experience.

First hire the route in the area between the Juarez Theater and the Jardin, the heart of the city, where several student groups or groups of young people dressed in the style of the colonial era and carrying stringed musical instruments and tambourines swarm.

The cost of the callejoneada is about ten dollars per person, with an approximate duration of 75 to 90 minutes, and several routes, one of which starts at the Juarez Theater, passing through the Trasgallo alley, the Baratillo square and ends at the steps of the University of Guanajuato.

The callejoneadas departing from the Juarez Theater is on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights, and those departing from the Alhondiga de Granaditas are on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. The schedule is the first one at 8:30 pm and the last one at 10:00 pm.

There is also an alley for senior citizens, with a flat route, which passes through the San Roque square, where the Cervantes plays began that gave rise to the Cervantino Festival, whose first edition took place in 1952 and in 1972 the Cervantino became international.

The first stop on the tour is the Callejón de las Ánimas, where the leader of the students' group explains why it is called that way and makes some jokes to the members of his group, and involves the visitors to break the ice and make the evening go by with a good atmosphere.

Pablo Vidal, a certified guide of the city of Guanajuato, a city located in the center of Mexico, informed that the "callejoneadas" are a tradition originating in Spain and the first Latin American Estudiantina was born at the University of Guanajuato in 1963, under the name of "Estudiantina de Oro" (Golden Students).

At night they would go through the alleys while singing, and people began to join them. Thus the so-called callejoneadas were born and this tour of the city, which at that time was small, began to serenade the girlfriends of the members of the group.

The members of these groups wear capes adorned with ribbons, because the young woman to whom they serenade must make a rosette with a ribbon on which she writes a thought, in gratitude to the young people of the group, an action that has been manifested in the song Los listones de mi capa (The ribbons of my cape).

Labyrinth of alleys in Guanajuato

The center of the city, in the area of the canyon, is made up of more than 5,500 alleys, which may seem an exaggerated amount, but they are short and each one leads to another, forming an intricate maze. And they were formed so that people could pass through as the canyon was built because there was no space for streets. The city lacks squareness so it was not laid out with straight streets.

In the city, there are about 20 student groups. Every year, in the month of May, a festival is held in which more than one hundred groups from different parts of the country and abroad participate and then form a "megacallejoneada".

There are currently student bands and music groups in Guanajuato, the former made up of young students who at some point were students, and the latter of university graduates who are still active.

During the tour through the alleys, apart from performing songs, the members of the ensemble represent stories, legends, and short plays or fragments. It is an activity that combines the culture of Guanajuato at night.

The performances in the city were the idea of the director of the Theater Company of the University of Guanajuato, Enrique Ruelas, in whose honor a bust was erected in the plaza, the natural stage for the shows.

Among the most famous legends of the city are the Callejón del Beso (Kissing Alley), La Llorona, especially because of the subway tunnels that cross the city, Los monjes, La llegada de la Virgen; and the alleys of Cantaritos, Cabecita, Salto del mono, Las Animas, del Puente, La cachetada, del Estudiante and one even narrower than the Callejón del Beso, which is called the Callejón del Arrimón.