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A Geek Oasis in Downtown Mexico City

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Rafael Ríos
ByPor Rafael Ríos

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Along with Reforma e Insurgentes, Eje Central is one of the longest and busiest north-south streets, highlighting Mexico City tech space’s transformation over time. Other important areas cross through the Eje’s central zone, including the Garibaldi plaza and its mariachis or trios, always ready to sing a song; the Palace of Fine Arts, the Latin American Tower, and the Postal Palace. Several mystical places are also found in this area, such as the Blanquita Theater (old burlesque and sideshow stage, now abandoned) or the Teresa Movie Theater (formerly famous for its erotic programming, now the hub of the Plaza del Celular). These attractions draw thousands of people daily, from tourists to locals to vagabonds. Many stories have unfolded along this spinal column of Mexico City tech; it’s been the stage for protests and traffic jams, and the inspiration for photography and daring walkers who have explored its entirety.

Axis of Magnetic Poles

This avenue has been a reference point in Mexico City tech for many years. All kinds of products can be bought here, with innumerable famous brand name stores that seduce curious visitors into a magnetic consumption at the heart of the country. But its sidewalks also host interesting occurrences like “Where did the ball go?”, where random and curious players join; or street musicians and living statues around which the multitudes swarm; or walking vendors that offer discounted cell phones. Also, if you’re looking for a computer or digital accessory, there is a place called Plaza de la Tecnología (Technology Plaza). It’s an adventure to navigate its cable and gadget-filled hallways, a true technological jungle in which many mysteries and emotions hide. It’s best to visit this place in the company of a local guide or before dark, in order to safely soak in the whole panorama, and experience the treasures that are here for the daring and courageous geek explorer for Mexico City tech.

Friki Central

But before the intersection of Eje and Madero, nearly right in front of the Latin American Tower, and near the building “La Nacional” (in whose peak was filmed the culminating scene of Nosotros los pobres, the 1927 film of Mexican cinema’s golden era, starring the public hero, Pedro Infante), there is tucked away a little-known commercial sector. It started its operations slightly over one decade ago to face the market’s lack of certain products, and also to gather all things ‘tech’ into a single space. This we could name the “freak culture,” mexicanized as “friki.” Such it is that, at street number 9 of Eje Central and Colonia Centro, we find “Frikiplaza:” a huge, 4-story store in which all topics have a place of honor. 

Friki-Plaza Glossary 

If we could define this place that attracts so many curious visitors daily, we would use the following keywords:  

Anime: We find these Japanese drawings, the inspiration of a life dedicated to visual languages and chromatic codes, everywhere and in any of the 250 stalls within this place. It’s enough to open your eyes wide, just like those of a manga drawing, in order to instantly be hit with their presence. 

Letters: What the oracle used to reveal with Tarot, and later was uncovered with the mallet of Spanish cards, is now solved by the Japanese manga series Yu-Gi-Oh!. On Frikiplaza’s second and third floors, you will find tables filled with skilled players, and one person or another from whom to buy, to whom to sell, or with whom to trade.

Comics: Alternative literature, whose bibliographic collection includes everything from classics and invaluable issues from the 1950s, nearly impossible to find; to special luxury editions of graphic novels, which are the biblical equivalent for dedicated fans. 

Collectables: If we can’t stop capitalist consumption, at least we should spend our money with style and create an empire of toys whose capital value is constantly on the rise. From well-known Stars Wars dolls to masks and costumes of any Sci-Fi imagined creature. 

Cosplay: We all have a secret identity that can flourish with a bit of ingenuity, which creates a great costume to have on hand. The Frikiplaza hosts an annual gala to honor and prize the most creatively dressed contestants. 

Doramas: There aren’t any television dramas that are more worth it than those with spelt and charismatic actors, dressed to the fashion nines. Putting your knowledge of pronunciation of Korean language to the test, you will here find them all, even those that are transmitted only by streaming. 

K-pop: If South Korea is westernizing with giant leaps, it’s time to look at its musical prospects. Maybe we’ll learn a bit of its language and be able to use its Google alternative, Naver, or popular messenger system KaoKao Talk; apparently, Whatsapp isn’t so popular on that side of the world. 

Ramen: If you think it’s just common, it’s not really ramen. What seems like simple noodles really make up a whole universe of gastronomy that seeks perfect flavors: umami, neither sweet nor bitter, but rather, something indescribable that is only understood by tasting. 

Styles and trends: Who doesn’t like cats, and using crowns with their ears and gloves with the soles of their paws? Well, in FrikiPlaza, you will find all this and more for every subculture: witchcraft, magic and Potterheads, Otakus, Goths, and whatever pops up as the newest trend in the coming weeks. Without a doubt, this is the perfect place to discover your new alternate personality.

Video Games: For all gamers in the digital world, playing is more than the equivalent to practicing a sport. Some games require, in addition to hand-eye coordination, strategy, character creation, teamwork, and problem and puzzle-solving. The game catalog and existing platforms are incredibly extensive, with some players preferring PC and others opting for different systems, that you will exponentially find new games at every turn. You weren’t even looking for them, but they’ll provide hours of challenges and entertainment. 

Now you know,  if you are missing any of these weaknesses, have to buy an exceptional gift for someone who already has it all, or simply want to get outside of the “real world” and enter into that of fantasy, science fiction, and electronic games, there’s a place waiting for you with bionic arms, pincers, or tentacles open wide to welcome the “friki” that we all have inside. And if this weren’t enough, there’s another branch called Frikiplaza II, on the street República de Uruguay 17, also located in the Historic District. And outside of Mexico City tech, there is a Frikiplaza in Guadalajara, Jalisco; you wouldn’t think anything less, with this being another of this country’s techy cities. For those of you who don’t read, do you know another, similar place, in a different geographical location? We’d love to know about it and go searching for another dot to connect on our web(creek).