June 12, 2015

Mexican Pointy Boots and Subcultural Theory

TigonzalesBy Teresa Irene Gonzales

While looking for videos to share with my Urban Sociology course this past term, I came across a mini-documentary from 2012 on Vice that chronicles the rise of a cultural phenomenon that centers around extremely pointy boots.

Men from the rural town of Matehuala, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico began augmenting their boots to make them pointier with an up-curved slant. While the boots initially were only slightly pointier, the trend expanded and some points increased as high as six feet tall. According to the documentary, the boot trend coincided with the rise of Tribal Guarachero;  a mix of pre-hispanic, indigenous, and Afro-Caribbean sounds, and electronica. According to an NPR piece on the pointy boots, men from Matehuala use the boots in dance competitions and the phenomenon grew from there.

With the rise of both musica tribal and the dance competitions, people outside of Matehuala began forming their own dance troupes and augmenting their boots. DJs such as Erick Rincon and Sheeqo Beat further popularized these boots by showcasing them in their music videos. Both the fashion trend and rise of dance troupes has expanded throughout Mexico and into the United States. While this trend emerged from a small rural town, it’s global reach to Mexican diasporic communities in the United States and it’s appearance in popular culture (at Paris fashion week and in an episode of Glee), highlight the role of technology in maintaining and perpetuating subcultural practices.


Subcultures include groups of people who share a defining trait, hang out with one another, are members of institutions that are associated with their defining trait, have a set of distinct values that are different from broader social norms, and share a common culture (via language, dress, etc).

In his seminal piece, “Toward a Subcultural Theory of Urbanism,” Claude Fischer argues that subcultures are more likely to emerge in cities because these spaces have a unique environment that facilitates the creation and diffusion of “unconventional” identities and behaviors.

Subcultural evolution stems from the density of individuals that is able to sustain a variety of “unconventional behaviors” via the presence of a critical mass. Because of their population size and density, cities have a variety of subcultures that inevitably come into contact with one another. This interaction between subcultures can lead to mutual influence(s) between groups. For instance, the Mexican pointy boots trend draws influence from ranchero (cowboy) and musica tribal aesthetics.

Although urban spaces may contain the critical mass needed to maintain a subculture, in his follow-up piece “The Subcultural Theory of Urbanism: A Twentieth-Year Assessment,” Fischer acknowledges that subcultural theory may be less about cities (and the spatial opportunities that they present) and more about the ability for individuals from or within a specific group to communicate with one another. He posits that cities are still important for face-to-face intergroup contact.

Innovation and creativity abound in spaces where people are able to come together and discuss (or argue) differing ideas. This is no less true for the creation of subcultures.

Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia allow people to more easily connect with individuals who share their beliefs and values (whether unconventional or not). They are also likely to be exposed to ideas, cultures, and fashion trends that are different from their own.

This doesn’t mean that everyone goes out in search of difference or is open to new experiences and ideas. This also doesn’t mean that the density of individuals in cities no longer matters for the creation of distinct subcultures.It does, however, highlight both the ability for subcultures to expand outward from rural spaces and the growing significance of technology and social media in creating, maintaining, and sustaining a variety of virtual communities – ones that may house their own unique subcultures, institutions, and values.

At the same time, these technologies may also facilitate the quick commidification of subcultural practices and extend them into the mainstream (as we see with the Glee video above and the retail of a pair of boots for $515). In his work on British youth, Dick Hebdige views the commodification of subcultures as part of the cycle of these practices. For Hebdige, subcultures rise out of resistance and then die once they are incorporated into dominant society via the market.

Without the presence of new(ish) technologies, I wonder whether the pointy boot phenomenon would have remained (and possibly died) in rural Matehuala and its surrounding areas.

How might social media change how subcultures are created and maintained? Do you think the “unique environment of cities” still exists? How do rural spaces fit into this paradigm?


As someone who has dabbled in sociology, I found your blog post very interesting to read. I am learning something new everyday because I never thought of a connection between boots and a national culture.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Become a Fan

The Society Pages Community Blogs

Interested in Submitting a Guest Post?

If you're a sociology instructor or student and would like us to consider your guest post for everydaysociologyblog.com please .

Norton Sociology Books

The Real World

Learn More

Terrible Magnificent Sociology

Learn More

You May Ask Yourself

Learn More

Essentials of Sociology

Learn More

Introduction to Sociology

Learn More

The Art and Science of Social Research

Learn More

The Family

Learn More

The Everyday Sociology Reader

Learn More

Race in America

Learn More


Learn More

« Harassment and Power in the Classroom | Main | Police Killings by the Numbers »