In 1932, Copland went to Mexico to visit his friend the composer and conductor Carlos Chávez (1899–1978). Chávez took Copland to El Salón México, a dance hall in Mexico City. A guidebook from the time describes it as follows:


‘Harlem-type nightclub for the peepul, grand Cuban orchestra, Salon Mexico. Three halls: one for people dressed in your way, one for people dressed in overalls but shod, and one for the barefoot.’


Copland was struck by the earthy quality of it, such as the sign saying ‘Please don’t throw lighted cigarette butts on the floor so the ladies don’t burn their feet.’