For years, Tijuana was the destination for college students searching for that legendary nightlife, cheap drinks and the legal drinking age that was and still is 18, unlike in the United States.
In recent years Tijuana has no longer been the same tourist attraction it was 10 years ago. In its heyday, El Centro, which is Tijuana’s equivalent of downtown, was packed with college and non-college students looking to get their party on.
Even bars not located near Tijuana’s downtown area saw a boom in revenue from the party crowds. Fast forward a couple of years and the once incredible nightlife that Tijuana enjoyed and offered completely disappeared or lost its appeal due to the ongoing violence that seemed to plague the city.
Nightclubs and bars were forced to close because their greatest source of revenue was afraid of the dangers that awaited them across the border.
“We used to go to Mexico all the time, hitting all the bars with my girls,” said City College student Jennifer Soto. “But it started getting dangerous. We started to hear all these stories in the news.”
Tijuana was plagued with what seemed to be a never-ending war against organized crime. Week after week, news headlines would shed light on what had become of the city bordering the United States.
More recently though, it seems Tijuana is making somewhat of a comeback. In the last couple of years, La Calle Sexta, located in the downtown area, saw locals heading to old haunts like Dandy del Sur and La Estrella.
These places, that had seen better days in the past, were now suddenly becoming hot spots for the youth who craved the nightlife. At the same time, new arrivals like La Mezcalera and El Chez, whose previous incarnation was located in La Plaza del Zapato, began to draw more crowds.
“I started going because people kept talking about La Mezcalera, I wanted to know what all the fuzz was about,” said City College student Isys Avila. “It (has) a whole other vibe, nothing compare to the places I’ve been to.”
Mostly spreading through word of mouth, locals started to fill the streets and La Calle Sexta became a booming district filled with bars, music venues and even a diner. For a while, La Calle Sexta was Tijuana’s best kept secret, but the word quickly spread across the border and Americans are now coming back to Tijuana.
“Slowly, it started picking up steam and week after week you would see a growth in the people wanting to go to La Calle Sexta,” said taxi cab driver Javier Robles. “Tijuana is thriving again, it’s great” Robles added.
Tijuana might be thriving but precautions should still be taken. With spring break right around the corner, students are advice to follow tourist information guides. Visitors are advised to stay in well-known areas and are encouraged to travel with friends and family, avoiding traveling alone.
Tijuana is slowly getting back on its feet and it is only fair for its neighbors to share its newfound popularity and even more so during spring break. After all, it is only a couple of minutes away, south of the border.