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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Famous Nightclub Baby'O Burned By Group Of Armed Men, Acapulco, Guerrero

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

Baby’O, an iconic Acapulco nightclub that was popular with celebrities, cartel members and politicians for over 45 years was destroyed by a fire caused by a group of armed men who were caught on video dousing it with gasoline.

Now there is online uproar over comments made by President López Obrador who alleges the burning of the nightclub cannot be said to be organized crime related yet. 

The Arson

According to the nightclub owners, a group of armed men approached the club on the night of September 29, 2021.

The men were able to subdue a security guard and they then broke into the Baby’O nightclub, which has stood empty, unused for the last 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Once, inside, videos show the men dousing various areas of the club with gasoline. At approximately 9:30 pm, the armed men set it ablaze, causing significant damage to the establishment. The 911 emergency line was called and firefighters were able to put out the fire. Only material damage was caused by the arson, with no injuries or fatalities being reported. 

In an interview for the newspaper Milenio, Guillermo Villanueva Gallardo, director of the Acapulco Fire Department, said "The emergency doors were opened to be able to ventilate and that the smoke and gases will release the fire and the fire will not spread. After putting out the fire, we proceeded to carry out hydraulic ventilation, to put out the fire more quickly." According to initial reports from firefighters that put out the fire, the property is considered a total loss due to the amount of damage.

Of note, the nightclub was destroyed the night before Acapulco Mayor Abelina López Rodríguez was sworn in, which has led some to speculate that a crime group is sending a message to the new mayor by destroying one of the iconic landmarks of the city of Acapulco. El Universal writes that the nightclub “occupies a privileged place in Mexico's tourist panorama.”

What is Baby’O? Why does this matter?

"There is only one Acapulco, there is only one Baby'O", reads the slogan of the venue, which seats 700 people and has a cave-like atmosphere. Baby’O has often been called the Mexican Studio 54,  a meeting place for the international jet set crowd. 

"Coming to Acapulco and not knowing Baby'O is like not coming to Acapulco," says actress Veronica Castro. Baby'O was inaugurated in 1976 and was founded by two young business partners, Rafael Villafaña and Eduardo Césarman, who named their new club after a Dean Martin song. 

Baby'O has played host to a who’s who of Mexican and foreign celebrities such as Luis Miguel, Paulina Rubio, as well as socialites and politicians.

Among the international stars who partied at the club were Tony Curtis, Rod Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Donna Summer, Julio Iglesias, Geena Davis, Sylvester Stallone and Bono.

Marc Anthony at Baby 'O on left, Mariah Carey and Luis Miguel at Baby'O on right

Politicians such as former president Enrique Peña Nieto and current México state Governor Alfredo del Mazo also have been seen attending the famous nightclub, as did sports stars, organized crime figures, prominent business people and countless tourists.

The nightclub has tried to maintain, throughout these decades, the "glamour of nightlife". Unlike other tourist destinations in the country, such as Cancun, where "sandals, shorts, T-shirts" are allowed in the nightclubs, in Acapulco "great care has been taken" with manners, and one must enter "well dressed", emphasizes the manager.

But in many other ways, Acapulco has changed. For starters, for its visitors. The city has left behind its golden age, when it put Mexico in the international tourism spotlight while Hollywood stars strolled along its beaches. 

Carlos Hernández, marketing manager of the establishment says that "it is not very common" for a business of this type to last so many years, but reaching 40 years "means that things are being done well". 

Violence has been largely responsible for Acapulco's decline. This has affected all local businesses, and speaking of the nightclub in particular, the owners have had to make an "effort" to keep it open, which has cost "a lot of money".

Eiza González and Pepe Díaz at a toga party at Baby O

Even so, Hernandez remains hopeful that "this will change and Acapulco will improve, Guerrero, Mexico will improve, that conditions will be different" and that the city will "return to its rightful place".

"Acapulco was the cradle of tourism in Mexico and it is unfair that it does not have these places and this support to be precisely what it was," he reflects.

Édgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "La Barbie", the leader of the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) enforcement armed wing called “Los Negros” reportedly frequented the nightclub Baby’O. La Barbie was believed to be the plaza boss for Acapulco. He reportedly always brought his business guests to the nightclub for  nightlife entertainment. 

Édgar Valdez Villarreal, "La Barbie"

The owner of Baby'O, Eduardo Césarman, stated that they had never had a recent or past problems with organized crime. "The Acapulco we know is friendly, it is not an Acapulco where there is crime," he told Radio Fórmula.

President López Obrador’s Comments

President López Obrador was asked about the burning of the nightclub during his morning press conference on October 1, 2021.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reported that the owners of the Baby'O nightclub, in Acapulco, Guerrero, have " been slow to provide information," and assured that it is still not clear what happened.

"The owners are being asked to deliver the information and they have delayed. Anyway  , there is still nothing clear, it is not possible to say what the motive is or what happened, we have to wait for us and it is very likely that they have information," said the President. 

The President continued saying “It can’t be attributed to organized crime without proof, because even the owner said [the club] was never a victim of extortion. But that’s what the media wants to say, that it’s a matter of insecurity and not paying extortion, … but we have to wait,” he said.

“It’s also known that the nightclub was insured. … We’re in contact with the governor of the state, [the authorities in Guerrero] are doing their investigative work and once we have the result of the investigation we’ll make it known.”

Likely in response to the President’s comments, the owners stated that they do have insurance against fires but they do not have insurance coverage against fires caused by vandalism, likely implying he believes that his insurance will classify the incident as a fire caused by vandalism. There is likely an insurance investigation going on alongside the law enforcement investigation. 

Later that same day, businessmen from Acapulco requested that the Attorney General’s Office (FGE) initiate a criminal investigation into the attack on Baby ‘O, so that it does not go unpunished and does not happen to other businesses.

Governor Héctor Astudillo Flores publicly supported this request, saying that the attack on Baby ‘O  would affect the tourist image of Acapulco. “We must not dismiss the tourist issue, the intention to hurt the image of Acapulco when it is currently on a recovery route towards December”, said Astudillo Flores.

Later on October 1, 2021, the State Attorney General’s Office released a statement acknowledging the fire was an act of arson. 

They said “It is established that this fire was caused by fuel spilled inside the building; as far as the information contained in the Video Recording System (DVR) is concerned, it was delivered to the Public Prosecutor on the day of Today Friday October 01th with severe physical damage (useless). However, the legal proxy of Baby’O also delivered some snippets of alleged videos into a USB, which will also be analyzed by the General Directorate of Experience, unaware of their origin and temporality.”

Sources: Milenio Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Official FGE Statement, El Universal, Mexico News Daily, EntrepreneurDallas News

Photo Credit: Javier TejadoGrupo Fórmula, 88.9 Noticias


  1. My first thought was "insurance job" but we shouldn't jump to conclusions.

    1. I regret to inform you, but good try, I don't believe Mexico insures thier nightclubs. In USA yes there's insurance to insure everything.

  2. It resembles the nightclub from Scarface.

    1. Actually your face resembles from someone on Scarface, the lady with the chainsaw.

    2. There's no lady with a chainsaw in that movie numbnuts. Anyway

      Come on dance, dance, dance move to the music, let your heart go free!

    3. 8:36 yes in a motel room, cut up at the shower.

    4. 9:42 No there's not paisa!

      Push it to the limit!

    5. Someone needs to see the classic movie again. There is a scene, where a man is cut up with a chainsaw. Super messy job.

    6. 8:54 Again, the lady never touches the chainsaw. Go watch it again tontos.

    7. Oh your were right. I am sorry I called you tontos, sorry too I called you numnutts. It's my mom driving me crazy with chores, and when will I get a job, man I am at the basement typing away. You were right, there is a chainsaw cutting up.

    8. 1:21 no problem 👍, may have taken 2 years to understand,
      all ok.

  3. Stupid president acting like he doesn't know what happened

    1. The president is actually pretty smart in not making premature statements. The fact is nobody knows for sure if the fire is related to organized crime or to someone trying to file an insurance claim. It hasn't even been a week since the incident occurred,how could you determine what happened based on limited facts. There still needs to be a full on investigation, these things take weeks if not months...Assumptions don't count as facts.

  4. Piso . . whether you operate or not - ask the taxi drivers and vendors on the beach

    1. Well thanks for burning the place down, now no piso payments yippieeee!

  5. Cheers Chava and Guero Blanca in Acapulco. Great reporting on an article I read several times without this depth

  6. Aca just isn’t what it use to be.

  7. Yo quise entrar una vez al baby o pero los cadeneros me vieron cara de naco y pobretón .


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