Chicos Plásticos

July 19, 2011

As we sat on the porch and talked, a teenage boy wearing plastic pants and a plastic jacket walked past the house — a neighbor from down the andén. Such plastic clothes were considered very fashionable among Managua’s teenagers at the time; a whole terminology had sprung up around them: chicos plásticos (plastic boys), whose plasticity resonated with Ciudad Plástica (Plastic City), their favorite haunt. A modernistic, sprawling, mall-like complex at the south end of Managua, Ciudad Plástica sported a range of diversions: boutiques, restaurants, discotheques, and a bowling alley. “Look at that. Plástico, puro plástico,” Flora remarked as the youth walked past us. “Boys are out fighting and dying in the mountains today, and all some of these kids want to do is wear plastic and go to discotheques. What a disgrace.”

–Roger N. Lancaster, Life is Hard: Machismo, Danger and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua (1992)