Way before Ibiza first plugged in their speakers, the mecca for European clubbing was in the sunshine city of Valencia. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Romantic strumming of a guitar over Tapas, the global pop takeover of the Macarena and the passionate flamboyance of Flamenco; it’s clear that music is, and always has been, integral to Spanish culture. And Valencia is no different with a rich musical history that comes with its own brand of cool.
Back in the day (or the late 80s and early 90s), this little pocket of Spanish coastline was famous for its Friday-night-to-Monday-morning raves. Dubbed Bacalao; meaning ‘cod’ in Spanish, the name of the rave scene comes from slang used by Valencian DJs to describe good music imported from abroad – this could be anything from New Order to Sisters of Mercy. The local sound was famous for the peerless art of mixing radical genres such as post-punk, new wave, synth pop, gothic rock and the first electronic rock songs we now lovingly call proto-techno.
Like most music bubbles, the scene burst in the mid-90s, mostly fuelled by sensationalist spins form local media that enforced government crackdowns. A sad story that seems to echo across the world.
However, Valencia remains a city of electronic music lovers, and the 800,000 inhabitants are not one to shy away from innovation. From re-routing an ancient river to make room for a lush space dedicated to arts and sciences, to opening the first sister campus of the Berklee College of Music in Boston – flashes of transformation and reinvention is all around. And it goes beyond architectural builds into the everyday life of music, food, and drink.