Red Light Ghost Town

For decades, Men’s Club 45, on the western edge of Monterrey, Mexico, was among the region’s most notorious “tolerance zones,” or government-permitted red-light districts. Despite it’s name, it was not a single nightclub, but a walled-in complex of strip bars, seedy hotels and brothels visible from the main highway that serves as a gateway to Mexico’s northwest. In January 2007, the zone was shut down and put up for sale following a shoot-out, according to the man who guards the now all-but abandoned property, a man who declined to give his name. Business was in decline anyway. The chaos and freedom of Mexico’s “zonas de tolerancia” has left them open to drug-related violence. Moreover, times and tastes have changed. The sex market has shifted to more secure, centrally located, US-style “executive” strip bars offering the same services. Men’s Club 45, meanwhile, remains as a curious, one-year-old ghost town where only the security guard, his fighting roosters and two dogs roam the alleys and parking lots. The once-remote property has been encroached upon by suburban and medium-density commercial development. The location of the land on which it languishes -- on the fringes of a growing city of more than three million people just hours from the US border -- may eventually make it a tantalizing site for developers..

John Sevigny

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