In wilder days of last summer, before Club America soccer star Salvador Cabañas took a bullet to the head in a Mexico City after hours bar and spoiled the fun for the ones in Tijuana, Tropic’s Bar was where the hard charging set drank until sunrise.
In a city of dive bars, Tropic’s Bar was a star, with an only-in-Tijuana collision of randomness that gave it a charm all its own. Last year, on any given night, well dressed gentlemen drinking since they got out of work, would pass out at the bar, beers in hand, next to pretty trannies flirting with guys too drunk to realize, or drunk enough not to care. In its darkest corners, aging women awaited drinks bought by lonely men looking for more than conversation, and willing to pay for it. And when the hipster bar next door closed, the with-it set headed to Tropic’s Bar to stack themselves into its tiny booths, where the ones who hit it off were left to decide whether to buy one more round, or make it home to make it before the coming day’s light ruined the mood.
While the city hasn’t been the same since it imposed new hours in January in response to Cabaña shooting, much of Tropic’s Bar’s essence remains, albeit in a tamer form. Its disparate clientele survives, but comport themselves better with a last call. The brass stripper pole in the back that sits unused on most nights, still invites alcohol induced acrobatics on occasion. And as she always has, the elegant older woman with jet black hair tending bar never allows tipping customers’ “caliente peanuts, wafers smothered in Valentina hot sauce, and Japanese peanuts” to get dangerously low—until the clock strikes 3 a.m., that is.