La Movida Madrileña

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Madrid at night in 1980, photo by Paolo Monti. The Movida people coined the now famous war-cries of the city: Madrid nunca duerme ("Madrid never sleeps"), Esta noche todo el mundo a la calle ("Tonight everybody to the street") or Madrid me mata ("Madrid kills me").

La Movida Madrileña (English: The Madrilenian Scene), also known as La Movida, was a countercultural movement that took place mainly in Madrid during the Spanish transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.[1] The movement coincided with economic growth in Spain[citation needed] and a widespread desire for the development of a post-Francoist identity.[1] The Concierto homenaje a Canito (Canito Memorial Concert), which took place on February 9, 1980, is traditionally considered the beginning of La Movida Madrileña.[1]

La Movida Madrileña featured a rise in punk rock and synth-pop music, an openness regarding sexual expression and drug usage, and the emergence of new dialects such as cheli.[1] This hedonistic cultural wave started in Madrid before appearing in other Spanish cities such as Barcelona, Bilbao and Vigo.[citation needed]


In the years following the death of Francisco Franco, a growing underground punk rock music scene began to form in Madrid.[1] Inspired by the growth of punk rock in the United Kingdom, a number of punk and synthpop bands, such as Tos and Aviador Dro,[1] formed in the late 1970s. However, this new counterculture clashed heavily with the Spanish national government, when evening curfew for women, criminalized homosexuality, and arrested people with unorthodox appearances for violating a law regarding "dangerousness and social rehabilitation" was frequent.[1]

La Movida Madrileña gained notoriety following a large concert at the Higher Technical School of Civil Engineers (ETSICCP) at the Technical University of Madrid on February 9, 1980.[1] Although Francoist elements continued to oppose the increasing liberalization of the city, the government under socialist mayor Enrique Tierno Galván had a more open approach regarding the movement, and subsidized various artistic endeavours.[1] A number of influential foreign artists, such as the Ramones and Andy Warhol, visited Madrid during this time.[2]


La Movida Madrileña's central component was an aesthetic influenced by punk rock and synth-pop music, as well as visual schools such as dada and futurism.[1] The aesthetic permeated into the city's street fashion, photography, cartoons, and murals,[1] manifesting itself in bright colours, voluminous hair, unconventional and revealing clothing, and heavy makeup use among both genders.[2]

In addition to these artistic representations, La Movida Madrileña also effected an emergent LGBTQ+ community, illicit drug use, and the use of the cheli dialect.[1]

Although some people involved with the movement testified to a lack of a unified political ideology, many elements of the movement were antifascist and had anarchist leanings.[1]


The Movida comprised many art movements; Pedro Almodóvar became a well-known example internationally after his success as a film director.[1][2]


In moods, looks and attitude, the sound resembled the British punk and new wave scenes and the Neue Deutsche Welle, sometimes (in the case of Mecano) mimicking styles such as New Romantic.[3]

Music was a contributing factor in the Movida because it was a way to express oneself. People were allowed to listen to different types of music and two popular genres at that time were rock n' roll and synth pop. Music bands like Mecano and Alaska and the Pegamoides [es] were two popular bands during that time. Songs like "¿A quien le importa?" (What's it to you) and "Ni tú ni nadie" [es] (Not you, not anyone) made people confident and gave them the ability to express themselves.[4]

Film and television[edit]

Film director Pedro Almodóvar (pictured in 1988) emerged during the Movida Madrileña.

Almodóvar comically reflected the messiness of the freedom of those years, particularly in his films Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montónLaberinto de pasiones;[3] and What Have I Done to Deserve this? (1984).[3]

TV programs like La Bola de Cristal and La Edad de Oro [es] contributed to spread the aesthetics of the movement to a wider audience.[3]

Pedro Almodóvar had a mass influence in the Movida and contributed to Movida by creating films. He was a director who made films of homosexuality and went against the church beliefs and the Franqismo. He has films like Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón.[4] He created his characters with complexity and he would oppose of the traditional values of topics related to family, sex roles, and respect. The goal for Almodóvar was for the audience to make the people question the environment they were living in. He wanted people to question the norms that were followed during this time and fight against normalization. He does this by using techniques like the use the of compare and contrast to the traditional model vs the franquista and to continue to question the idea that a certain sex has to act a certain way to be considered normal. There are a variety of films that were created to represent the LGBTQ+ community and Pedro Almodóvar wanted to bring awareness to the situation and used the Movida as way to come to different approaches from the lives they are living at the time.[5]

Photography and painting[edit]

During these years, young photographers like Alberto García-Alix, or Ouka Leele focus their art in the bands, concerts, and musical scene, while other creators, like Miguel Trillo, was more interested in the urban tribes around the new movement. Illustrator Ceesepe is considered major figure in the movement.[6]

After Ouka Leele overcame her health problems, at the age of 22 years she had a turning point in her career called movida madrileña and was elected as a faithful representative of what was called "posmodernidad". Her work fit perfectly with the eclectic spirit of the that artistic movement.[7]

Ouka Leele work evolves and surprises many. The strong garnish colors of her first works began to soften, the interiors stopped being a constant in his work and he went outside with his particular look at portraying forests and plants. His works are located halfway between painting and photography, they are abstract paintings where composition becomes as important as color. Color, being an integral element of her work, serves to enhance the representation of her art.[7]


Juan Carlos Argüello was the artist behind his trademark signature Muelle. Argüello created a unique form of street art, later described as “graffiti autóctono madrileño[4] and it was a reference and inspiration for many creators after him.

Juan Carlos Argüello was born in 1965, and was a pioneer in the street art movement in Madrid. He started out in the 1980s during the Movida Madrileña. Muelle began his career by creating his graffiti in the Campamento neighborhood of Madrid. One of his famous marks was his signature, which also had an arrow at the bottom. He claimed that his signature was protected by copyright. At first, the police thought that these signatures that were all around the city was a code used by the drug traffickers or gang members, but in reality it was just the enthusiastic Madrid youth creating copies of the signature. Eventually Muelle started adding designs to make it more complex by using colors, borders, and shadows. Many people started following Mulles work and made copies of it around the city of Madrid. His signature had lots of inspiration because no one else's signature had ever become so famous as Muelle's. He also started a punk rock band, Salida de Emergencia (“Emergency Exit”), in which he played the drums.In 1993, Juan Carlos Argüello stopped appearing in Madrid. In 1995 he died from cancer, but he still influenced many in Madrid. In 2004 he was honored with a ceremony and is still remembered in Madrid. A book was published about him called Yo conocí a Muelle (I knew Muelle) by Jorge Gómez Soto. In 2012, one of his few signatures left was made into a special cultural interest spot known as, Bien de Interés Cultura, and that graffiti cannot be removed. On October 19, 2016, Madrid dedicated a special garden to him in the neighborhood where he once lived.[4]


Writers Gregorio Morales, Vicente Molina Foix, Luis Antonio de Villena [es], Javier Barquín, José Tono Martínez [es], Luis Mateo Díez, José Antonio Gabriel y Galán [es], José Luis Moreno-Ruiz [es] and Ramón Mayrata [es] were prominent in the "Tertulia de Creadores" [es], which were a cycle of meetings, lectures, debates and happenings that took place in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid between 1983 and 1984.[3] Many of them, as Gregorio Morales, José Tono Martínez or Ramón Mayrata, were regular collaborators of the art magazine La Luna de Madrid [es]. Other publications, such as Oscar Mariné's magazine Madrid Me Mata [es] (Madrid Kills Me) contributed to the creation of a common identity.[3]

Another important figure outside the artistic world of the Movida was journalist Francisco Umbral, a writer for the newspaper El País, who wrote about and documented the movement.[3]


People focused on gender-based and heteronormative blindness, neglecting the significance of gender, sexuality, or acknowledging them. Those who participated in la movida all believed that one of their top priorities in undertaking la movida was advocating for queer people. Cultural productions with queer undertones have been placed elsewhere and have a majority of heteronormative narratives in la movida. Voices were offered through musical production to represent gender and sexuality associated with the queer community, and others that weren't were overlooked during la Movida.[8]

The movement was a time of enlightenment, where people the LGBTQ+ community could be seen as normal. It was a period where there was change in perspectives and the LGBTQ+ can be freely open without any repression from the government, and limitations from the church. The Movida emphasized liberty and the chance to open new opportunities for the gay community into having equal rights as a heterosexual. A neighborhood in Madrid named Chueca symbolizes the modernity, freedom, and openness. It is the home of the LGBTQ community and is a popular place within the community. They have a variety of events like alternative fashion centres and a host of opportunities for fun, in an anything-goes atmosphere. It holds the gay pride festival, which is between June and July.[9] Crossing through Chueca, is a book written about la Movida Madrileña, it spoke about the lesbian community and speaks on navigating their sexual, racial, gender, and class identities. Chueca is known for its queer space and how they combat against the discrimination, which played a big role during the La Movida Madrileña.[10]

Post- La movida Madrilena

Thirty years later, the Movida continues to exert influence on the people of Spain. This movement has been and continues to be embraced by institutions, showcasing a new and improved vision for both the city and the country as a whole. In 2007 there was an article from El País that acknowledges the return of la movida, but it was known as la removida. The term la Removida represented la movida reappearing, and at its previous state. In fact it was coming back so much that there were newspapers written about it.[8]

La Movida continued to have some effect in Spain, after many years after la movida, the rebirth of La Movida occurred, known as La Removida. This is a way to preserve memories, allowing societies to undergo a continuous process of construction and reconstruction. We observe this in cases like the events in Madrid: "La Sombra de un Sueño" seeks to reinforce the memory of La Movida and immortalize many of those who died during this period. The use of footage from La Movida serves as a way to showcase the rebirth of the movement. In order to preserve the legacy of La Movida, society needs a constant reminder because its memory fades over time, despite attempts to uphold its legacy.[8]

The stories surrounding La Movida and La Removida underscore the ongoing quest for identity and significance through memory, providing evidence for the assertion that postmodern identity is inherently ambiguous. Therefore, the films unveil the idea that memory is zestful, undergoing constant transformation—a process that is likely to persist in the future for both La Movida and La Removida.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Phelan, Stephen (11 February 2020). "'Bless the chaos': La Movida Madrileña, Spain's seedy, wild post-Franco underground". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c Dickson, Andrew (16 August 2019). "Spain's wild party after Fascism". BBC.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Movida Madrileña". Unearthing The Music.[self-published source?]
  4. ^ a b c d Zaino, Lori (26 May 2017). "Meet Muelle Madrid's Most Famous Grafitti Artist". Culture Trip.
  5. ^ Silverthorne, Spencer (October 2005). "El papel homosexual del cine de Pedro Almodóvar durante la movida madrileña" [The role of homosexuality in the films of Pedro Almodóvar during the Movida]. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection.
  6. ^ "Ceesepe: "¿La movida? No quiero tener nada que ver ni con Alaska, ni con Mario, ni con McNamara"". Vanity Fair (in Spanish). 7 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Ouka Leele, el espíritu ecléctico de la Movida Madrileña". El Periódico de España. EFE News Service. 24 May 2022. ProQuest 2668448181.
  8. ^ a b c d Nichols & Song 2013, p. [page needed].
  9. ^ "La Movida Madrileña". Context Travel. 1 August 2019.
  10. ^ Robbins, Jill (2011). Crossing Through Chueca: Lesbian Literary Culture in Queer Madrid. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-6989-9.[page needed]


  • Nichols, William J.; Song, H. Rosi, eds. (2013). Toward a Cultural Archive of la Movida: Back to the Future. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-61147-631-6.

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