Fun (And Trouble) In Mazatlán – The Sinaloan Banda Wars


During the last month and a half, there was an unusual phenomenon at one of the most popular beaches in the country:

The City of Mazatlán, in Sinaloa, Mexico:

Everything began when a video went viral about American tourists being interrupted during their reunion.

They were listening an acoustic concert in a balcony…

… when the sound of a Banda on the beach was heard all over the place.

Some people thought it was rude. Others thought that it was part of the tourist attraction. Others saw the presence of the Americans as a gentrification attempt.

And others made fun of the situation:

First of all, for those who don’t know how the Banda music is made, there are the main instruments: tuba, clarinet, flute, percussion, trombone, tambora.

The Sinaloan Banda has its roots in the fusion of the local tradition with the arrival of German immigrants. It’s part of the identity of the state of Sinaloa and an important part of the Regional genre.

Weeks later, there was a kind of prohibition that wouldn’t want to allow bands to play on the beach.

The text stated that the bands should not play in the hotels.

One of those who complained was Ernesto “Neto” Coppel:

A hotel owner, who said that foreigners were complaining about the noise and left the country with a bad impression.

And this caused a reaction. 

Several musicians rioted on the streets and others went outside Mr. Coppel’s hotel, just by playing their music.

The opinions were mixed with those who thought it was rude to play the music so loud.

And others who compared this city to New Orleans, because as you know: there is a long time tradition that you don’t mess with as a visitor.

The main problem was that after all, the beach is a public place, and it’s a fact that the musicians are not there all the time.

After all the controversy, the restrictions were lifted and there were agreements.

Last April 8th, Mazatlán became almost the center of the world, because it became one of the best locations to watch the solar eclipse.

Even the NASA personnel couldn’t help being part of the festivities on the previous days:


Y los de la NASA bailan así…🕺🎶💃

♬ sonido original – Las Noticias TVP

I don’t know if that’s a happy ending. But I feel envy for those who could live a once in a lifetime event. I wish I’d have been there.

Writer’s travel notes: I’m maybe a little biased about Mazatlán, but that’s the place where I spent the best vacations in my life, specially in the 2000’s decade. So I recommend you that if you have the chance to go there at least once in your lifetime, try to go.

There’s a lot to do there.

  • There’s an international motorcycle week (the dates may vary, but I think this year will be on the month of May)
  • Also, a new aquarium.
  • The Malecón (boardwalk) has a wonderful view, where you can see the best sunset….
  • … And the Pacifico Beer Factory is in the city.
  • I may be exaggerating, but some of the best seafood that I’ve tasted in my life was in Mazatlán.

Finally, I have to say that Banda is not my favorite genre. But I admit that it’s versatile.

I found this rarity: a cover of “O Sole Mio” that I never expected to hear.

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Edith G

Single Hispanic female. I wish I’ve been a storyteller, but it is what it is.

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Famed Member
April 30, 2024 4:55 am

Boardwalk sunsets? What’s not to like? Thanks for sharing this with us, Edith!

JJ Live At Leeds
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April 30, 2024 7:52 am

I’ve been to Mazatlan! Spent a couple of nights there in 2004 as I travelled round Mexico. It was lovely, especially enjoyed strolling along the lengthy Malecon in the evening. I don’t remember any Banda on the beach, looks like i missed out.

I get that the sound of the Banda may be overpowering, that guy with just a guitar had no chance, but I’m on the side of the Banda. It’s a public beach, seems like it’s a longstanding tradition and it’s adding local flavour. You’re on holiday, go with the flow and enjoy it.

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April 30, 2024 8:16 am

You know I’m all over that Banda cover of O Sole Mio, Edith. Fantastic.
I can see both sides of the Banda vs Tourism controversy, as that particular style is going to get loud and unavoidable, but I’m mostly going to be on team “Let them play; it’s a public beach” and I personally would have enjoyed hearing random live music like that.

We have not been to Mazatlán, but we were directly across the gulf in Cabo last winter, as I talked about recently, and it was amazing. Now I want to go to Mazatlán. I am not familiar with the cuisine of Sinaloa, but we do have a few of its southern neighbor Nayarit-style restaurants near us that I love. My favorite is a carved out pineapple stuffed with all sorts of amazing seafood.

Fun article! I enjoyed learning about the Sinaloa Banda style.

Last edited 1 month ago by rollerboogie
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April 30, 2024 9:20 am

The guitarist did the right thing by standing up and taking a bow. Bonus points if he started dancing.

I was in Greenville, Maine for the eclipse and the crowd responded exactly the same way. It wasn’t as many people but the reaction was just as energetic, and there was a round of applause as the sun started shining again.

Thanks for taking us to Mazatlán. I’m completely unfamiliar with it. I’d like your opinion, Edith. We’ve never been to Mexico but my wife mentioned that she’d like to go to Mexico City sometime. I realize that it’s nothing like Mazatlán but which would you recommend? She’s more interested in culture and meeting people (and I like eating local food) than she is in lying on a beach, so maybe the big city is the way to go. Which do you think we should do first?

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April 30, 2024 11:54 am
Reply to  Edith G

Great, Mexico City is officially on our list now. Thank you! Oops, I mean, gracias.

Pauly Steyreen
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April 30, 2024 12:22 pm

I would love to go to Mazatlan. But the place I really am craving to visit is Oaxaca. That’s on my top three bucket list destinations before I die, along with Japan and one more visit to Nepal.

Anybody who has a problem with street musicians is a Karen, and they need to go to the library if they want peace and quiet. I would love to enjoy some tasty seafood on the beach with some live banda playing nearby — sounds like heaven to me!

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April 30, 2024 4:55 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

Oaxaca cheese is delicious.

Phylum of Alexandria
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April 30, 2024 3:19 pm

Very interesting. During my recent trip to Japan, I noticed a very similar phenomenon…but reversed.

Japan is know for their quiet, orderly, tidy, and polite culture. In my 20 years of visiting, there was always the stereotype of the loud, rude, rowdy American, but those biases had been formed by a few bad encounters with drunken Sailors or Marines. For the most part, the tourists who came to Japan remained respectful.

This recent trip, there were so many tourists around, that certain places didn’t even feel like Japan. People talking and shouting in their native tongues, bumping others in the street to take selfies, blocking traffic! Totally not cool.

Whatever the local culture is, visitors should respect it and try not to impose. The local areas are happy for the business (and after the pandemic are hurting for it) but that shouldn’t mean they should have to sign away their lifestyle and culture for some money.

So let it be written, so let it be done!

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