Malabarista fashion

25 Jun, 2017 | Caroline Risacher

Going Out and Social issues

Photos: Nick somers and Fabian Zapata

Or, how to dress like a hippie

The 2017 guidebook on how to be a hippie is very clear:


    Be from Argentina, Chile, or Colombia


    Congregate in specific places in South America. In La Paz, you may find them at the corners of Plaza Abaroa.


    Develop a craft: street performing or juegos malabares are common, or at least the most noticeable – juggling at street lights and tightrope walking without falling to a tragic death. The skills, I admit, are actually pretty solid.


    Most importantly, shop or find your clothes and accessories at Hippie Outfitters – or the nearest bin.


Evidently, there is a sartorial code that hippies must adhere to or their syndicate would have to file a complaint. Bolivian Express set out to photograph these malabaristas out of their den:

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Jonathan, 22, Colombia

Not the most loquacious being, Jonathan is wearing the standardised hippie uniform. Sporting an immaculate Florida Gators hoodie most likely retrieved from the innumerable piles of what used to be clothes from the El Alto market, he completes the look with the classic but unfathomable combination of shorts with leggings. Admittedly, it’s cold in La Paz this time of year; the summer hippie look is usually just shorts and a lot of tattooed skin. Let’s not forget the nose rings and dreadlocks which are provided to every new hippie in their welcome pack.

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José Luis, 30, Argentina

The closest thing to a halo is obviously a wheel that you wear upon your head. It might not protect you much from the rain – unless you can spin it really, really fast – but it gives you this innocent look that might dupe the unsuspecting driver. Let’s not be fooled, the tattooed flames coming out of José Luis’ sleeves are evidence of the growing theory that hippies come from the eighth circle of hell.

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Vanessa, 26, Argentina

Juggling with a magic wand and a sceptre (more evidence that hippies are not quite from this realm?), Vanessa wears an interesting combination of orange argyle leggings and a skeleton-printed jumper adorned with a matching headband. This look wouldn’t be complete without some Beetlejuice shorts. The fashion statement here is strong, almost inexplicable, one could say.

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William, 26, Colombia

William knows that if you are wearing extravagant makeup you need to tone it down with a more conventional outfit, which he is totally doing with a little black hoodie and matching sweatpants. Another testament to his good taste is that he knows how to complement his red T-shirt with the colour of his cap. Unfortunately, the overall look (masquerade-ball makeup combined with that ‘I’m a vagrant’ look) remains a bit dubious, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt: maybe he just returned from one of the famous hippie masquerade parties thrown in Copacabana.

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Andrés, 19, Colombia

The youngest of our malabaristas, Andrés has much to learn. It looks like he hasn’t fully opened his welcome pack, as there are no nose rings or tattoos to be seen (but then there is a strong chance that there are a few hidden from the sun – we weren’t willing to investigate further). The clothes are a bit uninspired, and in another context we might not be able to fully recognise his hippieness. Fortunately, walking on a rope while juggling clubs in the middle of traffic is quite the telltale sign.

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