La re-Movida Madrileña

By Sam Jaspers

In 1975, after the death of Spanish leader Francisco Franco, an era of dictatorship came to an end. It gave birth to La Movida Madrileña (the Madrilenian scene), a countercultural movement of theatre, music, art and partying, that mainly took place in Madrid. During the economic crisis this movement seemed to ebb away, but now it is time for the so-called re-Movida Madrileña – and Madrileños are dancing around the city again.

Born in Madrid, the Movida Madrileña was a cultural wave that later found was adopted by other Spanish cities, such as Barcelona, Bilbao and Vigo. The movement was characterized by freedom of expression, transgression of the taboos obeyed by the Franco regime and a new spirit in the streets. Furthermore, the use of recreational drugs and the pasota dialect have their roots in the movement. La Movida Madrileña restored the economy and succeeded in emerging a new Spanish identity after years of dictatorship.

When the economic crisis hit the country in 2008, times had changed for Madrid locals. The city that once was renowned for its nightlife, was slowly fading because of the recession. The major unemployment (more than 18,91 percent of Madrileños did not have a job in October 2016, the numbers are declining), and high taxes seemed to kill the party spirit of the Madrileños. People were very much aware of what was happening in the city. “We cannot deny the crisis. It affects the whole country, and Madrid’s bars and nightclubs are no exception”, Danni Marin, owner of the club Costello said back in 2014. “Consumption has fallen a lot, our overall revenues are down by half”, he explained. 800 clubs in Madrid had to close their doors in a period of six years.

Two years later, and more than a generation since the fallen dictatorship gave way to the Movement Madrileña in the seventies, things are changing again in the streets of Madrid. Locals call it the re-Movida Madrileña. “People are tired of weeping about the great depression, so I think that is why the clubs and bars are crowded again every night”, says Patricia Porteiro, a 25-year-old local.

According to some, the progressive municipal government that found its way into the city hall is one of the reasons Madrid is so alive again. They have been contributing to fun and revival in the city. The city counselor for culture Celia Meyer, restored the Verbena de Malasaña neighbourhood fiestas, which had been prohibited since 2004. The parties take place on the 2nd of May. Furthermore, she granted permission for a number of big festivals over the summer. “We wanted to stage more open, accessible and diverse parties”, Celia Meyer explains.

With everything that is going on in the city, Madrid seems so be undergoing a true revival in living around the clock again – “Us Madrileños go out 24/7”, says Joaon, a 35-year-old local, “People just do not stay inside, nor during the weekends nor during the week.” The re-Movida Madrileña clearly indicates that the Spaniards prize their social life above everything else.