NOCTURNA is choreography for inhabiting the night, consisting of carrying out walks through areas or specific neighborhoods of the cities addressed. The walkers are women of different ages who create safe, accompanied, and joyful experiences by fostering supporting group care on each route. During the walks there are suggestions of actions using the body; these trigger play in the spaces, and explore caring and nonviolent ways of relating to, and occupying these. 

         The routes undertaken and shared here were designed through mapping and by talking to women who live in, and/or use the areas in question. They relate to the architecture, urban infrastructure, and the use inhabitants make of the streets and other spaces, focusing on the space a body occupies within them and possible derivative trajectories. Each route design was influenced by questions such as, How much space is there on a street or sidewalk? How well lit is a certain street? What sort of activity usually takes place in those spaces? Every route includes an open space, however—a park, plaza, or courtyard—where the women involved in reenacting the project can play or dance together. It has not always been possible to do this in every case, due to urban infrastructure conditions.

         NOCTURNA seeks to be an essay of freedom in the night. Walking slowly; contemplating the sky, a tree, or a building; or lying down in the park, are all actions historically denied to women, a denial considerably emphasized in the context of violence and death Mexico has been experiencing for over 20 years. In this sense, it seemed imperative to practice other ways of being in public spaces, in less of a rush, with less urgency, with less fear. NOCTURNA activates a space for care rooted in bodily self-acknowledgement and the acknowledgement of other women, because it is based on the principle that group care also implies self-care, and vice versa. Each part of the process needed to bring about this gathering takes time, observation, and dialogue.

Proposing NOCTURNA happen as large-scale choreography is important to Ámbar, to foster dialogue between bodies and the city. So far the project has taken place in Mexico in Tuxtla Gutiérrez (Chiapas), and in Lagos de Moreno, San Juan de los Lagos, and Guadalajara (Jalisco). In 2020, the walk in collaboration with the Chopo University Museum (Museo Universitario del Chopo) in the vicinity of Santa María la Ribera, the Mexico City neighborhood home to this venue, had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

         Accompanying this text are accounts of the experiences of some of the women who took part in the walks. If you would like to re-create this exercise at a specific location with other women inhabitants of the area, please place your bodies in situations that encourage group care / self care, and share the experience with us at [email protected] for publication. If you would like to organize a walk but do not know where to start, write to us at the above email address and we will send you some useful tools.

NOCTURNA is choreography for inhabiting the night, consisting of carrying out walks through areas or specific neighborhoods of the cities addressed. The walkers are women of different ages who create safe, accompanied, and joyful experiences by fostering supporting group care on each route. During the walks there are suggestions of actions using the body; these trigger play in the spaces, and explore caring and nonviolent ways of relating to, and occupying these. The routes undertaken and shared here were designed through mapping and by talking to women who live in, and/or use the areas in question. They relate to the architecture, urban infrastructure, and the use inhabitants make of the streets and other spaces, focusing on the space a body occupies within them and possible derivative trajectories. Each route design was influenced by questions such as, How much space is there on a street or sidewalk? How well lit is a certain street? What sort of activity usually takes place in those spaces? Every route includes an open space, however—a park, plaza, or courtyard—where the women involved in reenacting the project can play or dance together. It has not always been possible to do this in every case, due to urban infrastructure conditions.

Alejandra Huston. Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.

I remember, ever since I was a child, walking in public spaces after dark was forbidden. It was unimaginable for a woman to even go out on the street after the sun had set, and if something were to happen to us there at that time of day, most people would think it was reasonable and acceptable. After the Nocturna walk for women, I renewed the consciousness that upholds my feminist convictions to this day: Take back the night by walking in our spaces and reclaiming them for us women, and also claim our right to freedom of movement at whichever hour we choose, without this right becoming a threat to our lives. Walking in silence made me feel solemn and peaceful inside, because even though 2019 was one of the most violent years in Mexico, our silence felt like the respect I hold for those women who are no longer with us because they did the very same thing I was doing that night. The country unconsciously adopted a curfew for women. We were denied our spaces once the sun had gone down. In Nocturna, we walked our streets from the main square as far as the “Calzada de las personas ilustres” (the Avenue of the Illustrious Individuals), a short, dimly lit route, really close to the banks of the Sabinal River. It was a particularly rainy night, but a spectacular full moon lit up each puddle we stepped in. We ended by forming a circle and describing our experience. I was struck by one teenage girl who said this was the first time she had felt safe on the streets of Tuxtla, walking alongside women she didn’t even know. Walking through Tuxtla along the banks of our streams and the edges of our spaces, vegetation, smelling my city at night, listening to it, is a privilege, and we will conquer it with the most ancient of movements: Walking. One of the most emotional moments on the walks was when the group began to dance, sing, and take over the entire street and not just the sidewalk: It was an appropriation of the public space. The people out and about on the streets asked us if we belonged to a particular group—they wanted to know what we were doing, and what was the point of walking just with women. The astonishment on their faces was clear: all of us women felt important (laughter), the cars stopped to watch us, people leaned out of their windows. Nocturna was a very rich and vivid experience, and not just for me. The women who gathered for the walks expressed similar feelings of joy, companionship, and above all, of safety. In the closing feedback, most said they’d like to continue the walks, to keep walking in the company of women and enjoying the city and the nighttime, because it, too, belongs to us.

Aitana Padi Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas

The walk, for me, was the nighttime—darkness. I was with my mom; Carito Moroqui had invited us. I felt safe, and I would’ve liked there to be more girls. I hardly remember how I felt that night, but I do remember I felt safe. I love the night; it’s when I get inspired. I remember one moment when we were walking and I saw a little frog (I really like animals). I also remember I felt quite tired because I usually don’t walk much, but if I had sat down to eat something and get my strength back, I could’ve kept going. I didn’t know the area we walked through; I normally don’t walk in the city, just travel by car.
Around 30 participants joined us in the city of Tuxtla de Gutiérrez, Chiapas. The following names include both women who signed up but ultimately were unable to participate, and women who took part in one, two, or three walks. If you participated in NOCTURNA in Lagos de Moreno and would like to be included in the records, please send your name and the city you walked in to the following email: [email protected] Carmen Villa Mariana Villa Enriqueta Rincón Carolina Castillejos Alejandra Huston Elvia Quintanar María Hernández Katy Aguiar Tania Hernández Aitana Padi Aranza Parra Cota Odpor Rocío Leos

Alejandra Aguiñaga. Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco.

Walking the streets used to make me anxious, because of a physically violent situation I experienced on my way home, several years ago now. Walking by myself and at night was distressing. Through Nocturna I reclaimed the way I feel about public spaces. It allowed me to remember what walking safely and calmly is like. It was an opportunity to see and feel the city in detail, the lights and streets. Observing how the people who weren’t part of the group began to disappear, little by little, from the different spaces, allowed me to walk through places I wouldn’t normally be alone in at night. One of the most emotional moments on the walks was when the group began to dance, sing, and take over the entire street and not just the sidewalk: It was an appropriation of the public space. The people out and about on the streets asked us if we belonged to a particular group—they wanted to know what we were doing, and what was the point of walking just with women. The astonishment on their faces was clear: all of us women felt important (laughter), the cars stopped to watch us, people leaned out of their windows. Nocturna was a very rich and vivid experience, and not just for me. The women who gathered for the walks expressed similar feelings of joy, companionship, and above all, of safety. In the closing feedback, most said they’d like to continue the walks, to keep walking in the company of women and enjoying the city and the nighttime, because it, too, belongs to us.

Marina Ortiz. 
Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco.

In Nocturna, I first had to break down my resistance: I was at odds with the idea of something being exclusively for women. I didn’t understand what was so unique or special to not be able to share a walk with men. I was surprised, though, when I began to experience my own corporality in an everyday space and sharing that experience with other women. After Nocturna, I think I redefined the meaning of being in a place as a woman, but above all, being surrounded by many fellow women, I understood we share the same fears of being singled out and harassed, and that we want to walk around without feeling we’re being stalked. Because it wasn’t a march, it wasn’t daytime, and we didn’t walk down the main avenues, and instead I had the chance and a space to move around in, to observe and to share experiences, Nocturna turned into a beautiful, unique experience of being in the company of other women—friends and strangers. All of us were filled with of an unusual emotion I’d never felt before and haven’t felt again since. It was a powerful experience, and extraordinarily safe, which I think was because of the recently discovered awareness that we can all take care of one another, accompany each other, be kind and brave. I think we were all really surprised to be walking altogether along streets filled with details we’d never noticed before: The trees, lampposts, an unexpected balcony or facade. We were walking through those spaces but seeing them in a different light and taking the time to observe and say to the others, Did you see that? I used to walk at night, but alone and hurriedly. I think Nocturna was one of the last walks I remember taking calmly at night, as there was a really strong wave of insecurity afterwards, and on top of that the pandemic. If I had the chance to do another nighttime walk, because of Nocturna I hope I would be able to watch and pay attention to details along the way. I remember the physical proximity to other women, their presence, and their closeness. I remember it gratefully, because normally crowds on the street make me anxious and I feel uncomfortable when other people get too close to me. I think the exercises we did together, the play, and the trust we built that night, meant the proximity to other women wasn’t invasive, but kind instead. I’d like to thank you, Ámbar, for imagining something so beautiful and so unique, and above all, for making it a reality.
Around 60 participants joined us in the city of Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco. The following names include both women who signed up but ultimately were unable to participate, and women who took part in one, two, or three walks. If you participated in NOCTURNA in Lagos de Moreno and would like to be included in the records, please send your name and the city you walked in to the following email: [email protected] Wendy Aguirre Claudia Macías Alejandra Aguiñaga Kathy Aguirre Marina Ortiz Laura Contreras Aquetzalli Vallejo Edith Sandoval Artemisa Bernal Lesly Ulloa Cristina Yebra Lilia Palos Yomira Gómez Lourdes Carrillo Macrina Sánchez Lucero Martín Gabriela Saldaña Lucía Ortiz Luz Atilano Ma. Carmen Galvez Ma. Eugenia Becerra Ma. Guadalupe Becerra Ma. Guadalupe Guerra Magdalena Chavoya Maribel Olmeda Mariela Padilla Michelle Lara Miriam Gómez Nohemí García Olga Pamela Sandoval Patricia Becerra Paula Barrientos Samira Arellano Sandra Bernal Simona Villalobos Susana Torres Tanya Soto Wendy Lara Yahaira Padilla

Karen Ornelas. San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco.

NOCTURNA was a beautiful experience for me; being able to connect with my companion women and with the night was something I had never experienced in San Juan. Even though there weren’t many of us, I think we were there to support each other and feel more united. To begin with I felt uncomfortable, because I felt the passersby were watching us closely. Then I started to enjoy seeing the other girls taking part, and during the walk my relationship with the night began to change a little—I felt safer and in my comfort zone. I really enjoyed the part when we were in a circle with our eyes closed and touching the shoulders of the woman in front of us.
Around 30 participants joined us in the city of San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco. The following names include both women who signed up but ultimately were unable to participate, and women who took part in one, two, or three walks. If you participated in NOCTURNA in Lagos de Moreno and would like to be included in the records, please send your name and the city you walked in to the following email: [email protected] Joselin Martin Janeth Aguilar Karen Ornelas Lupita Iris Alvizo Magaly Estefanía Ramírez Magui Martínez Sara Barreda Mariana Montelongo María Guadalupe Esqueda Maricela Reynoso Celia del Socorro Flores Marleth Ramírez Nancy Angel Maru Romo Marveli Rico Natalia de Alba Reyna García Tania Ivette Campos Verónica González Yuliana Gutiérrez

Yanina Orellana. Guadalajara, Jalisco.

I was part of Nocturna on the walk around downtown Guadalajara. Nocturna was an introduction to an area of the city I normally don’t go to, as it’s considered very dangerous. I decided to go with a friend so just getting there would be safer. At the first meeting point I felt really anxious until we met up with our other walk companions. My worry began to fade when quite a large group began to form. To begin with, Ambar lead a movement activity that helped activate my senses; I could hear my breathing and watch the paved horizon at the same time. Ambar also told us about the safety protocol of all of us women being responsible for taking care of all of the members of the group. This calmed me down a lot, because it meant we were many pairs of eyes all looking out for each other. We formed a protective cordon that spanned the whole block, contracting and expanding as needed. Walking alongside other women created a sense of unity; we always moved in relation to each other. We kept going and the darkness softened. The empty streets seemed friendlier: Now they seemed to be spaces needing occupying, so we let ourselves have a moment of fun. We organized some games to activate our bodies. We ran and laughed limitlessly in the public areas. It reminded me of that childhood anarchy of pretending us girls owned the streets and us girls made the rules. As we walked we overcame the fear of being out on the street at nighttime. I felt calm and I really enjoyed the conversations that arose. Nocturna was a great opportunity to talk and catch up with events in my companion’s lives. I also talked to girls I didn’t know, but because of the shared experience we felt like we were part of the same group of friends.

Alejandra Díaz. Guadalajara, Jalisco.

The night can transform our fears, depending on how we inhabit it. A political and yet tender action, sisterly, and vital in reminding us of a right the current situation of insecurity and violence has made us forget: The right to walk down the street. It’s that simple: To transit, walk, inhabit, and be in common space, in the public space. That’s what Nocturna was for me—the time to reclaim what belongs to us with sensibility. Walking with other women through the nighttime, on routes considered unsafe. It reminded me the present could be different, and that by walking alongside other women we’re stronger; we include, accompany, and strengthen one another. When we were walking together I didn’t feel unsafe, vulnerability changed shape, although I have to admit it was a process, an adjustment, and a change in my body’s way of being with another woman, getting to know, recognizing, and listening to each other. The nighttime nourishes me, connecting me with the moon, with creativity, with solitude, with profoundness, with what remains hidden, and that feeling can transfer onto what happens as a society, as a group of women. We gathered to acknowledge our dark sides and to inhabit them from a place of creativity, play, observation, observing ourselves as a whole. The streets seem more creative and inspiring when I feel safe on them, and that’s how I felt walking as part of Nocturna, walking our “unsafe” streets of Guadalajara as a sisterhood. Around 30 participants joined us in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco. These are just some of the names we were able to obtain for the records. If you participated in NOCTURNA in Guadalajara and would like to be included in the records, please send your name and the city you walked in to the following email: [email protected] Claudia Anguiano Alejandra Ibáñez Alejandra Díaz Yanina Orellana Beatriz Gomez

Ambar Luna

Dancer, choreographer and performing arts researcher. Director of ASTROLABIO. Performing arts in context. They are interested in generating contextual research and creative processes, as well as the use of spaces and territoriality in choreography, seeking to weave relationships between the body, the political, urban spaces and affections. A degree graduate of the National School of Contemporary Dance (Colegio Nacional de Danza Contemporánea), they have trained in workshops, courses, and master classes with Meg Stuart, Thomas Lehmen, Xavier Le Roy, and Kazuko Hirabayashi, among others. Luna has worked on creative, collaborative, and management projects since 2009. Since 2015 they have been developing Tenderness Practices (Prácticas de la Ternura), related to the body and movement. They have held numerous grants: PECDA (2012, 2019), APOYARTE (2012, 2015), PADID (CENART, 2014), and FONCA (2013, 2019). They have participated in festivals such as the International Cervantino Festival, Territorios del Arte, the National Dance Festival, Festival MEDIARTE, and Movimiento Sur, among others. Luna has undergone creative and management residencies in Uruguay, Spain, Germany, and Chile. In Mexico, they are part of the Practices for being together collective (Prácticas para estar juntxs), the Network of Mexican Women Choreographers (Tejido de Coreógrafas Mexicanas), and the feminist collective Clitómanas (‘Clitomaniacs’).