Large populations of mixed ethnicity lived in urban centers, and especially in the viceregal capitals of Lima and Mexico City. Many social habits--among them, the gathering in taverns called chinganas, to eat, drink, dance and sing--worried urban authorities. Their concern was twofold. First, chinganas in working class neighborhoods gave people a chance to meet and mingle, thereby further breaking down neat ethnic classifications that urban elites had tried to police--fruitlessly--since the sixteenth century. Second, chinganas were places of drinking (the word "chingar" means to get drunk in Peru and Bolivia, but has other connotations in Mexico), and authorities saw too much drinking as a threat to both working-class productivity and urban order. They responded by creating city codes to limit such public disorders, and this document is an official account, made by a night watchman in Lima, of violations he found in one chingana.

Previous scholars have emphasized the hostility that existed between various ethnicities in Spanish America, but recent studies have shown that in late colonial cities people were allied by class and because of proximity. The night watchman's account, likewise, says little about ethnicity, but attributes this raucousness of this gathering incident to the low class of the participants.
Visual Culture
Taverns like the one this night watchman decries were fixtures in the urban scape, particularly in working class neighborhoods. While the watchman's testimony does not stress the physical characteristics of the chingana (tavern), his testimony implies that the music and mingling (to which he objects) were common public sites. Even if they were not elaborate, these settings formed an integral part of the civic fabric in the later colonial period. As gathering places for the urban working class and poor, chinganas were the informal variant of the more ordered and supervised urban plaza.

See an idealized image of Lima's order in the Vistas Gallery.

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