By ALEIX GWILLIAM
It’s 1975. General Franco has just died and Spain is on the verge of a new dawn. A country that was stuck in the past and based on tradition and conservativism is now ready to explode into a new era of freedom and inhibition. In Spain’s capital Madrid this new ideology came out very strongly, what is known today as ‘La Movida Madrileña’.
Spain hasn’t always been the open country that it is today. For the best part of 40 years, Spain was stuck under a fascist dictatorial regime. General Franco, after his coup d’état in 1936 and three years of Spanish Civil War, had taken over Spain and installed his political, social and religious views. Spain had become a highly conservative country with no freedom of expression, no freedom of religion, no freedom of culture (unless it was Spanish) and that was not moving along with the times. Franco’s police, known as los grises (the greys, due to the colour of the costume they wore), strongly oppressed and erased any slight type of social, political or cultural revolt and followed Franco’s instructions of keeping the country in line.
However, in 1975, General Franco died and Spain began to experience a transition, not just political but also cultural and social, which is only normal after so many years of dictatorship. Madrid, being the capital of Spain, was one of the places where this cultural transition came out the strongest and new icons began to surge in all cultural fields, such as music, film, art, fashion, literature and photography. However, it was in the first two especially where what became known as La Movida Madrileña (which would translate as ‘The Madrid Scene’) had its biggest impact.
As you can imagine, when someone is oppressed and is not allowed to do certain things, when that oppression disappears the first thing one will do is all the things one wasn’t allowed to do before. This is more or less what happened in Madrid, more specifically in the district of Malasaña, an excellent place to stay when you rent Madrid apartments. All the taboos under the dictatorship were broken, homosexuals started coming out and openly expressing their sexuality, recreational drugs became popular among the youth, and provocative fashion were worn by girls (under Franco, women were seen as housewifes who should take care of the family, be at the husband’s disposal, and in under no circumstances could be desirable or provocative figures, especially in the way they dressed). All of this encompassed a new identity for the youth of Spain after all those years of following the line in silence.
In music, bands such as Alaska y los Pegamoides, Radio Futura, Mecano, La Unión and Loquillo were the front runners in the industry with techno-pop with heavy synth sounds, rock n’ roll and pop being the new sounds of a country experiencing a rapid change in habits. It was a considerable change for a society who was used to listening to Julio Iglesias. In film, the movida saw the surge of film director Pedro Almodóvar, his films pretty much broke every taboo that Spain used to have. In fashion, Ágata Ruiz de la Prada created her famous and strange designs. Madrid had begun to change, and it was on course for a huge cultural revolution.
Rent apartments in Madrid and re-live all those moments that shaped Spanish culture into what it is today.
Aleix Gwilliam is a 24-year-old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.