Travel Journal — Mexico City

Mexico City’s Organ Grinders: Why does this Street Performance Draw no Crowds like Others?

My first experience left me awestruck. However, after several visits, not only did my enthusiasm fade, but so did that of others.

Cindy Roaming
3 min readSep 20
Organillero in Zocalo Mexico City. Photo by Author

Walking around Mexico City’s Centro Histórico is a real treat. Wondering why? Well, besides the many museums and Artesanias, the streets are full of different street performers. They all add something special to your day. You’ll see live musicians, energetic rappers, and funny comedians, all showing off their talents.

Street performances in Mexico City. Photo by Author

I remember my first trip to Centro Histórico. It was a sunny day, and I was on my way to the biggest Zócalo in the country. Along the way, I noticed something interesting: the Organ Grinders, or Organilleros, as they call them locally. They played Mexican music on barrel organs and wore “Golden Villa” outfits. They dress like this because they used to be with General Pancho Villa’s soldiers during the Mexican Revolution. So, we can say these Organ Grinders are part of Mexico’s history.

The music they played was lovely, you could recognize the melodies even from a distance and it was a unique experience for me. During special events like Independence Day or Dia de Muertos, they might wear Mexican clothes or paint their faces.

But to be frank, after a few visits, the excitement started to fade. Not just for me but for others too. How did I find out? Well, I saw that other street performers were getting bigger crowds. People were dancing and giving them money, while the Organilleros didn’t draw as much attention.

So, I wondered why this once-captivating street show was losing its appeal. There could be a few reasons. While their performance connects us to Mexican history, it’s become just another form of entertainment today. One reason might be that there are so many street performers in Centro Histórico now, so they have a lot of competition for attention and financial support.



Cindy Roaming

I write about my travel story, tips, and itinerary. Currently in Mexico City🇲🇽