Photographers Alex Troesch and Aline Paley first saw the long, pointy Mexican boots on a video through Facebook. “It was so funny at first, seeing this group of people dancing in the boots to this crazy music,” Troesch says. “But then we realized how great it was to see another side of northern Mexico—people being silly and having fun. It’s usually portrayed as so rough, with a lot of violence.”
Inspired by the video they saw, the Brooklyn-based duo, who have known each other three years, traveled to Matehuala, Mexico in late January to see the boots with their own eyes. There, they met a young man named Gerardo Gallegos, who showed them around the city and brought them to various clubs, where they witnessed people dancing in the long-toed shoes firsthand. Many of the most fanatic dancers were teenagers, and the two photographers even met several kids who were making these boots by hand in their living rooms.
In northern Mexico, the pointy boots trend is more about flash than fashion. “They’re worn by people who want to impress other people,” Troesch says. In fact, one boot maker they met had transformed a regular pair of shoes into pointy boots for a client who wanted to impress the jury of a dance contest. That’s how the fervor started—but not everyone is a fan. “Sometimes you’d hear people teasing others about wearing the boots,” Troesch says. “Still, it was very interesting for us to witness how such a common object—cowboy boots—worn by so many people in northern Mexico could be reinvented and reappropriated by young teenagers whose eyes and ears are so many times directed towards the other side of the border.”