What if nightclubs were exhibition spaces like any other? That's the offbeat idea behind the Banksy Social Club in Mazatlán, Mexico, a nightclub decorated with reproductions of the British street artist's most iconic works.
Clubbers can dance the night away amidst reproductions of "CND Soldiers," "Girl with TV and Red Heart" and "Cameraman and Flower." But this is a world away from the traditional art gallery. Here, curators are replaced by gogo dancers in flashy leotards and waiters dressed like keffiyeh-clad emirs. Something that the owners of the Banksy Social Club see as a nod to "cultural diversity," they told The Art Newspaper.
The Banksy Social Club was opened in March 2021 by the hospitality group Grupo Marea. The choice of Mazatlán as the nightclub's location has nothing to do with Banksy, but more to do with the tourist appeal of this city on the west coast of Mexico. This destination, located in the region of Sinaloa on the country's Pacific coast, across from the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, has recently become one of the most popular hotspots in the country, along with Cancún and Tulum.
A nightclub approved by Banksy?
Nevertheless, fans of Banksy are entitled to wonder if the British artist has authorized the nightclub to use his name. Especially since the street artist, who has always hidden behind his pseudonym, is known to take a dim view of any commercial use of his image. In 2018, he tried, unsuccessfully, to use the European Union's trademark law to restrict the appearance of his works in derivative products made by the greeting card manufacturer Full Colour Black.
But for Grupo Marea's spokesperson, the Banksy Social Club is not an appropriation of the British street artist's identity. In their words, itt is a tribute to "art in all of its expressions, with references to various trends and artists from a diversity of genres," the spokesperson explained to The Art Newspaper. Banksy has previously pushed the limits of artistic expression with Dismaland, a pop-up amusement park near his hometown of Bristol, as well as the Walled Off Hotel, a hotel overlooking the separation wall in Bethlehem in the West Bank.