Yo Ho, WeRCatz here!
The film El Baile de los 41 (Dance of the 41) was premiered theatrically on November 1, 2020, at the Morelia International Film Festival and was released on November 19th. The worldwide premiere of the film was on May 12th, 2021 by Netflix.
The plot focuses on the Mexican politician, businessman, and hacienda owner Jose Ignacio Mariano Santiago Joaquin Francisco de la Torre y Mier (or Ignacio de la Torre y Mier for short).
His life before his fall was steady: he is married to Amada Díaz, the daughter of infamous Mexican president Porfirio Díaz. He had a great life as being part of the very high echelon of Mexico’s high society of that era. However, he hides a secret: he is gay and has fallen in love with Evaristo Rivas who is another privileged politician. His forbidden romance and his marital problems culminate in the real-life scandal called El baile de los cuarenta y uno (the dance of the forty-one), where an illegal police raid led to the arrest of 42 men who danced. 19 of those men were dressed in women’s clothing. The number was changed to 41.
This film shows us a glimpse of one of Mexico’s biggest society scandals since most of the events in the film took artistic license. Evaristo Rivas is a fictional lover of Ignacio while Ignacio himself still loved his wife after the police raid. But the scandal cannot be ignored since it forced Mexicans in 1901 to start talking about homosexuality in the open. There is a genuine love between Rivas and Ignacio but betrayal and then indifference between Ignacio and Amada. The suspense heightens the secrecy as Porfirio suspects something and forces “bodyguards” to look after his son-in-law. As for the raid and the aftermath, it is true but sad as the 41 were convicted, conscripted to the army, and sent to Yucatán to fight in the Caste War: 12 of the 41 were not able to pay for their freedom. The drama was real and the ending was tragic. Alfonso Herrera (Ignacio) and Emiliano Zurita (Evaristo) showed that their characters start innocent and then intense. Mabel Cadena (Amada) also played her role well as she turns from a sweet wife to a cold roommate.
There is not much history about the sexuality of the real-life Ignacio de la Torre y Mier or the incident that happened on November 17, 1901. However, to this day there is much speculation that Ignacio was number 42 and that Porfirio Díaz covered up Ignacio’s supposed part in the scandal for the sake of Porfirio’s political standing and Amada’s honor. For a long time the number 41 was considered taboo so much that Mexicans celebrate their 40th birthday, skip their 41st, and celebrate their 42nd. No houses, payrolls, hotel rooms, badges, and license plates will have that number anywhere.
As for Ignacio in real life, he was on the wrong side of Mexican history as he is most associated with his involvement in the assassination of President Francisco I. Madero on February 22, 1913. Eventually escaping prison in Mexico, he died a horrible death in New York on April 1, 1918, after a botched hemorrhoid operation. Amada lived on until her death on August 22, 1962, at the age of 95.
In any case, give this movie a chance. I liked it and people should see this film.