Spain’s first McDonald’s opened in 1981, replacing an old jeweller’s on Gran Vía. Many predicted that this gran hamburguesería would be the beginning of the end of Madrid as we knew it. And they were right.
Ten no-frills finds has always been a space to put all of my uncategorisable curiosities together but, looking at the now 6th collection, I’m starting to wonder if this collection might be developing a personality of its own – one that pushes the boundaries of reality and even seeks to capture glitches in the Madrix.
“I’m on the corner of Street of the Miraculous, and Bitterness Street”, laughs Mariano Casado Francisco. Rather than name his bar after the streets on which it resides, as so many no-frills bars do, he has named his bar after himself – the way his customers would inevitably have called it anyway.
An elderly woman dressed in all black is straddling the wrong side of a first-floor balcony. Standing up there with her is another elderly woman wearing a floral smock, bellowing unsolicited advice about how her friend should tie up the bunting. Fierce high-rise arguing descending into laughing, and I watch on in horror yet reassurance that, somehow, these ladies have got it handled. After all, it is quite possibly their 90th year of decorating the streets.
You’ve found one of my trapdoors… a door considerably smaller than other doors, found on metro platforms across Madrid. This trapdoor will take you to the deathly quiet streets of Cabanyal, where you may feel like you’ve rediscovered a deserted Spanish outpost.
Welcome to Bar La Muralla, a perfect, no-frills gem that does what it says on the window… and quite a bit more.
Futurism had an mini renaissance during the Spanish Civil War. The traditionally fascist art movement was briefly revived in an unexpected and ironic manner: to protect the people from the fallout of General Francisco Franco’s air raids.
One of the sites where Franco’s army would learn to build railroads, bridges and trenches now hosts an army of Madrid’s underground artists. Welcome to Zapadores (trenchers), Madrid’s City of Art.
Secret gay nightclubs and bars were opening right under Franco’s nose and the cornerstones of Chueca’s infamous nightlife were being laid. By the time the dictator died, in 1975, Spain’s marginalised communities were already organised and ready to begin the countrywide fight for freedom of expression.
Is Madrid your muse too? Here are seven unique artists and photographers that feel the same way…