Monday, March 1

The Bakalao Route, the history of the phenomenon that marked an entire generation

It is always difficult to establish the birth of a musical trend, but it has been almost 40 years – yes, 40 years! – that the Valencian Community he was finally launched into the arms of disco hedonism, creating his own style that rivaled the best dance halls in Ibiza or Barcelona, ​​and that in less than a decade was turned into something else, very different and forever associated with the “bakalao route“, the scourge that ended up marking Valencian nightlife forever.

According to urban legend, the name “bakalao” derives from the expression “this is good bakalao” in reference to a musical theme “destroy”. And the route was nothing more than a circuit of discotheques that was chaining schedules, which allowed, in many cases drugs through, to spend the whole weekend (sometimes from Thursday to Monday) partying continuously. At first on the coastal road of El Saler, in Valencia, but the phenomenon also spread to Alicante, where years later the name of “the artichoke route“. Nightclubs like APTCE (Saint Vincent), Therapy (The Rebolledo) Sakkara (Guardamar del Segura), KKO Y Hook (Torrevieja) Metro (Bigastro), Watts -which would later become Revival– (Los Montesinos), Central Rock (Almoradí), Scandal (Callosa d’En Sarrià) y The limit (Santomera, Murcia), among others, were the main “bakalaeros” temples of Alicante. (Note: The links of each club refer to videos and / or music from the 90s).


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The closures of some of these sanctuaries of electronic music, such as Revival, added to the closing of Puzzle in Valencia in October 2011, practically all traces of it have been erased. Only some survivors, such as Central Rock, popularly called “la Céntral”, and the “remember” parties, which in recent times have brought people nostalgic for the “bakala” music of the 90s together in different discos, keep the memory alive.

The then protagonists of that youth movement are today parents who attend new forms of nightlife in their children. At the risk of falling into generalization, the truth is that this new generation has raised the bottle in the street or the afternoon against their parents’ taste for discos.

But before the bakalao route ended up self-engulfing at the pace set by the chronicles of events, there was something very different. A way of understanding the night that turned the Valencian Community into a modern center of attraction that rivaled the Madrid scene, and that in fact saw some of its protagonists pass through its rooms, such as Almodóvar or Alaska.

The documentary “72 h … And Valencia was the city”, launched many years ago, recovered the essence of those eighties, from the hand of two people who experienced it first-hand, Óscar Montón and Juan Carlos García: “For nearly a decade we had a production company that recorded every week in the reference clubs, in Spook Factory, Tent, Chocolate… There came a time when we thought that all that material was suitable for a documentary, joining it with statements from those who lived through it “.

Enrique Bunbury, Loquillo or Rafa Sánchez also gave their opinion about those years, which they consider unrepeatable, and that they served “for people to realize that something was happening in Valencia that was not happening anywhere else in Spain.” Bunbury recognizes that it was necessary to travel to Valencia to see some groups that did not perform elsewhere, and that nevertheless gathered hundreds of followers there. Decades later, it is a phenomenon that is still alive in the hands of The Cult, The Mission, Alien Sex Fiend … names forever associated with the Valencian “movida”, not as popular as Madrid, but which undoubtedly knew how to get everything out the juice to its almost underground character.

Coinciding with the release of this DVD, an accompanying disc was also released, which recovered the songs of that phenomenon. In “72 hours. The route to Valencia”, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and Anne Clark coexist with Megabeat and Chimo Bayo. The eighties and the nineties. The time of growth and splendor of a phenomenon that will be forever associated with tremendous reports, but that gave much of itself before it became a mass consumer product.

But what did it consist of? Which was the key to success? It is impossible to understand that boom without standing in the Valencia from the early eighties. In a city that was struggling to shake off the dark years of the dictatorship, and that had not yet reached the level of cosmopolitanism of Barcelona or Madridbut he had his own plan. In those years, the aesthetic and social renewal not only reached the dresses and hairstyles, but also the very concept of nightclubs.

As the Valencian journalist claimed Joan M. Oleaque in his essay “In ecstasy”, the most complete study of the phenomenon of the “route” carried out to date, “in this country, dancing had never been a man’s thing. Their place was generally the bar, watching women dance. But in Valencia all that changed” . From the traditional nightclubs of the late seventies, which were limited to playing the hits of the moment, a new concept was changed, close to what is now known as “club”. An exclusive environment in which all urban tribes fit, from posh to rockers, and in which all ended up coming together for the same philosophy.

There is no doubt that music was the spark that ignited everything. Since 1980 Carlos Simó was in charge of the Tent, applying the maxim that would make the “party” great: mixing danceable rhythms with others that in principle were not danceable at all. In 1984 he joined Spook Factory to the idea, from the hand of Fran Lenaers, and in parallel, Chocolate, with Javi Gitano on the plates. The “holy trinity” of Valencian nightclubs remained, each with its own style, but with a common philosophy, summarized very briefly by the Auserón brothers, from Radio Futura: “What happened in Valencia did not happen anywhere else. Mixing the dance songs with the saddest songs from The Cure was quite audacious. ” Barraca also broke the mold when it began to open on Sundays at 6 in the morning, something that then did not happen anywhere else.

From the hand of Lenaers came another innovation such as the incorporation of the mixer and the two turntables in the booths, with the beginning of the technique of mixing songs.

All that risky bet soon attracted the most restless Valencians, already musicians, artists, designers … All united around a unique cocktail, in which apparently irreconcilable groups fit: from The Human League to Ramones; from Tom Waits to The Sisters of Mercy, and thus continuously, engaging an increasingly numerous and involved audience, who found their religion in the “Valencia sound”, and in the mescalina, the fashionable drug, the vehicle with which to get carried away to the limit.

In the heat of the whole phenomenon, a multitude of music producers began to emerge in the Valencian Community, especially in Valencia, a city that came to host more record labels than the rest of the country.

Eternal nights, of 72 hours duration, like those that give the documentary its title, and that gave rise to a legend that made Valencia compare itself to Manchester over the years, for its ability to create its own sound starting from nothing. As Fran Lenaers, one of the “fathers” of the phenomenon, recently recalled, “the public was the main driving force behind the party, and the music was much more varied than what is currently heard in nightclubs. Now you listen to songs made by producers. directly to dance, but then it was not necessarily like that. Music was played that was initially not designed to dance, but the public ended up adapting to it “.


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La huida

The formula worked for years, but it also carried its own self-destruction. Circumstances forced DJs to be more and more creative, to continue delving into a concept of mixes that in many cases no longer gave more than themselves. The public expected to be constantly surprised, and also began to flock and turn the discos into something more than a little shared secret. As Montón and García recall, “there was a time when the party moved to the parking lot. In the discos there were no longer 600 people, but thousands, and also discos were beginning to appear everywhere. And a new generation arrived, with different tastes and other drugs “.

And the story is over. At the beginning of the nineties, few were the rooms that kept the essence, and yet the number of businesses had grown like foam. It was the time of Spiral, Puzzle, Heaven, Zone, Local limit, N.O.D. The ACTV (whose full name was Cultural Activities of Termas de Victoria), and of course the classic ones, Tent, Spook Y Chocolate, that they kept their sessions, but that little by little they were advancing towards a harder style.

Bakalao Route Flyers

Chimo Bayo triumphed around the world with “That’s the way I like it”, collecting the fruits of many years playing in Arsenal, another of the places of pilgrimage. Records were released and people came en masse from all over Spain to buy t-shirts, caps, stickers …

But he was not the only one to savor success. Other groups, such as Double Vision, they also crossed our borders.

Virtually all young Valencians knew what was being cooked a few kilometers away from their homes, and yet the essence of the party had long since been lost forever.

The arrival of a new generation of young people and DJs ended up gobbling up the style forged in the eighties. The Lenaers, Simó and company were leaving the place to the new icons of the party: their own Chimo Bayo, Kike Jaen The José Conca they changed, little by little, the way of understanding a session. The rhythms were hardening, matching the calls “cantaditas” The “cupcakes” with a stage in which many producers were already dedicated exclusively to creating hits for the dance floors.

The music thing “so as not to dance” is over. “The plan was to start the session in a brutal way from the beginning, and not make the rock think too much,” acknowledges one of the DJs of that time in which, as always happens, other cities had learned to take advantage of the phenomenon. With the nineties, the machine went to live in Barcelona, ​​and the Community lost its hegemony forever, dismissing its only era of splendor.

The numerous traffic accidents after the inexhaustible party sessions, with the consequent fatalities, naturally drew media attention to this phenomenon already in the process of degeneration.

The “bakalao route”, finally, has been etched in the collective memory with the image of unbridled youths drugs and alcohol, completely forgetting what it meant in its beginnings, as this Canal Plus documentary broadcast in 1993 and presented by a beardless Carles Francino shows:

The “bakalao route” through its “flyers”

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