Manuel Escobedo passed away last Tuesday, an event that might not have gone unnoticed except that the transition of Calle Sexta (or "La Sexta,” as it is now known) occurred while Don Manuel was living the last years of his life with Alzheimer's disease as his wife, Aida, kept charge of the Dandy del Sur.
The Dandy has been a mainstay on Sixth Street in downtown Tijuana since 1980, when Manolo (his well-known nickname) moved it there from Avenida Constitución. Almost every well-traveled Mexican has heard of the bar, but Manolo's influence was likely felt regardless of whether tijuanenses ever entered that cantina, as Manolo had his hand in the creation of many of Tijuana's drinking attractions.
From La Palapa, then to Rancho Grande, La Estrella, and El Tiburon, Manolo left his mark on Tijuana's drinking scene since the early 1950s. In fact, El Tiburon was sold and then turned into "Manolo's" in his honor. Dandy del Sur, however, stands as his landmark establishment.
"He had some engineers make it, but he didn't like it so he threw it all away," said Alexa, a longtime cantinera in the Dandy. Manolo then made the bar the way he wanted it. "I don't want ficheras [girls who drink with guys for tips from the bar], I want people to come, locals, to have a nice time," recanted Alex of Don Manolo's wishes for the Dandy. "They told Manolo it wouldn't work, but it worked," she said. And it does.
Manolo's wake was on Thursday evening.
La Sexta, once known only for a couple of small cantinas outside of the Dandy del Sur, now thrives with youthful exuberance in a new era; the passing of Manolo marks a transition felt by Tijuana's youth whether they know it or not.