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Bakalas, also known as Makineros, are a music-based subculture that originated in the Valencian Community, eastern Spain, which formed around the musical genres of Mákina or Bakalao. It was rooted in Spain's clubbing culture during the Spanish transition to democracy and the Movida Valenciana and mainly flourished during the 1980s, 1990s and to a lesser extent the 2000s[1]. One of these clubbing movements was the Ruta Destroy or Ruta del Bakalao, which was the first one in Spain and the largest one ever. People from various corners of Europe would drive over to the city of Valencia to experience its nightlife.

Stereotypically, Bakalas were described as low-middle class people who were interested in Electronic Dance Music (and most notably Mákina/ Bakalao). It was also a type of nightlife in the city of Valencia, where thousands of young people would host Hard Techno parties, stay up for several days and consume drugs, although that also brought really bad medical and legal consequences for the scene[2]. Nowadays, the Bakala movement has evidently fallen out of popularity, although it's remembered by many nostalgic adults in the country.

History[]

The origins of the Bakala subculture can be traced back to the 80s, when Electronic Dance Music-based scenes and movements first appeared in Germany and the Netherlands and later spreadeded all over Europe.

Valencia played a significant role in the development of Spain's clubbing culture during the 1980s. Following the death of dictator and caudillo Francisco Franco in 1975, the country entered the era known as the "Spanish transition to democracy", which supossed heavy cultural and societal changes in Spanish society. However, that also implied that the laws of the newly-estabilished Spanish democratic kingdom weren't completely fully estabilished. Such countercultural movements that appeared in many Spanish cities were Las Movidas, and among them, the Movida Valenciana which coincided with the growing interest in nightlife and Electronic Dance Music in the Valencian Community. It's safe to say that it was the predecessor of the Bakala subculture.

Because of the heavy censorship of the media in the Spanish state during Francoist rule, the society of the time was largely unaware of certain themes such as nightlife, drugs or freedom of sexuality, since they didn't align with fascist political values. Consequently, these activities became something "new" and "exciting" for the youngest generations. Spanish contemporary historians still don't have a general consensus on when the Ruta Destroy officially started, but it at least started to emerge in the 1980s along with the other socio-cultural movements in Spain. The town of Cullera in the Valencian Community is often cited as a starting point for these early clubbing experiences.

This new cultural phenomenon attracted international music acts, particularly from England and Germany, leading to a musical scene that resonated across Spain and other zones of western Europe. Throughout the 1980s, Valencia became a main destination of cultural and musical interest for those who wanted to experience this emerging lifestyle and music genre. Although the Ruta Destroy movement was pretty much "underground" during its early years, it was later brought to the attention of the media due to the increase of drug use and HIV/AIDS cases. Since 1992 the movement's reputation was heavily harmed by the media and police intervention became more common in the nightclubs, leading to a quick decline of the scene.

Resurgence[]

Nowadays, the Bakala movement is predominantly inactive since the late 2000s, except for the many nostalgic adults in Spain that remember it. Such examples are communities like Makineros 90's, which sell merch inspired by the original subculture and promote Mákina revival events and music[3]. The subculture used to be somewhat stigmatized in Valencia at some point because of the former controversies surrounding drug use or sexual transmission diseases, although nowadays it's making a small comeback[4]. The comeback of Mákina is often called "Remember" in Spain, and some examples of Remember groups are La Resistencia, Megapanic, Remember paradise, Makineros XXL, Makina Legends, Vulkan, Barcelona Remember Festival or Love the 90's[5]. In relation to modern participation in the subculture, the term "Neo-Bakala" is sometimes also used in Madrid[6]. The definition isn't completely solidified, since some Spanish trios like VVV [Trippin’you], from the same city, are cited as examples of "Neo-Bakala", although their music is obviously very different from the original movement and rather leans towards Post-Punk or New Wave. However, they are the ones who coined that label because they grew up with Mákina music and it has largely influenced their works[7].

In 2022, the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) organized an exposition called Ruta Gràfica running from March 3rd to June 12th, dedicated to the unique graphic design style associated with the Bakala subculture and the Ruta Destroy movement[8][9]. Nuria Enguita explained that this exposition collected a lot of Valencian countercultural works from the early 1980s to the 90s, from its underground origins to its success accross Spain and Europe, along with how it represented an explosion of creative freedom for an entire generation after living through a long dictatorship. It had 132 posters, 86 flyers and two documentaries that also included interviews with influential individuals.

During the same year, a coming-of-age television series called The Route (also known as La Ruta in Spanish and Catalan) was created by Borja Soler and Roberto Martín Maiztegui for the Spanish webplayer Atresplayer[10]. It's based around the intense lifestyle of the people who participated in the Ruta Destroy clubbing movement. The time setting in the show goes backwards, beginning in 1993 (when the Ruta Destroy movement was no longer as massified as it once was) and ending in 1981. This show became really popular among Spaniards and was nominated as the best Spanish drama series of 2023, winning a Ondas Award[11].

Visuals[]

The visuals associated with Bakalas can be noted in album cover arts, flyers, posters and nightclub logos, and sometimes in music videos (although some of these may be rare or lost).

Some common characteristics seen in Mákina are:

  • Technology that resembles Y2K Futurism (although it predates the Y2K aesthetic)
  • Bats (a traditional symbol of the Valencian Community)
  • Color changes
  • Bakala and Cybergoth fashion
  • Converted cars (referencing the Ruta Destroy movement)
  • Logos from Valencian/Spanish nightclubs

Fashion[]

Common characteristics of Bakala fashion are:

  • Sportswear and tracksuits
  • Asymmetrical clothing
  • Unstructered shirts/dresses
  • Shirts featuring band logos (such as Boy London or Destroy)
  • Bomber jackets
  • Blunt sneakers
  • Feathers (most commonly seen in jackets)
  • Sports caps
  • Tight clothing
  • Really polished haircuts

Activities[]

  • Attending Raves and nightclubs
  • Listening to most genres of Electronic Dance Music
  • Staying up for several days
  • Taking long and fast road trips, mainly to the city of Valencia
  • Blasting music in cars
  • Consuming stimulating drugs, typically cocaine and amphetamine
  • Engaging in excessive sexual activity

Music[]

Mákina, sometimes also called Bakalao, is an electronic musical genre that developed in Spain during the 1990s, along with the Raver subculture and the Movida Valenciana. With the rise of clubbing culture in Valencia, the Mákina movement became successful all over Spain, and even in North East England, and to a lesser extent, Japan and France. The songs are characterized by their bouncy and catchy electronic rhythm and they are usually fast paced and usually have a tempo ranging from 150 to 180 BPM. Mákina music was also heavily influenced by Acid House, Industrial Dance Music, New Beat, Hardcore Techno and Happy Hardcore. A lot of Mákina songs that were popular during the Ruta Destroy are now collected in various albums and compilations.

Interestingly, Mákina has stayed strong as a subculture and music genre in North East England and Scotland, although it remains as a movement very distinct from the original Valencian scene[12]. The genre has also gained its place in the Japanese Dōjin scene (independent music circles)[13], sometimes getting mixed with J-core.

Record Labels[]

LogoBitMusic

The mascot of Bit Music, commonly associated with Mákina.

Bit Music (stylized as bit music) is the most prominent independent record label for Mákina music, known for having published several compilation albums including a lot of classic songs from the Bakala movement[14]. It is headquartered in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) and it was founded by its parent label Divucsa in 1994. Some sublabels include Xque Records, Hardcore Come Back and Chasis Records. The mascot of this label is a yellow alien with black and green eyes, wearing headphones and raising his fist, with the logo of the record label itself featured on its green shirt. It became a symbol widely associated with the Bakala movement.

Musical Artists[]

  • Chasis
  • Chimo Bayo
  • Dany Bpm
  • Dj Ruboy
  • Dj Skudero
  • Emphassis
  • Gerard Requena
  • Julio Posadas
  • Kike Boy
  • Megabeat
  • Paco Pil
  • Pont Aeri
  • X-que
  • Xavi Metralla

Songs[]

Albums[]

Media[]

Nightclubs[]

  • ACTV (1986-1996)
  • Arabesco (1990-2007)
  • Barraca (1965-Present)
  • Chocolate (1980-2004)[15]
  • Distrito 10 (1982-1994)
  • Espiral (Late 70s-1995)
  • Pont Aeri (1991-2012)
  • Puzzle (1986-2011)
  • Scorpia Central del Sonido (1993-2003)
  • Spook (1984-Present)
  • The Face (1980-2004; formerly Dream's Village until 1993)
  • Xque (1992-2007, 2010-2011)

TV Shows[]

  • La Ruta/The Route (2022)

Trivia[]

  • Tattoo by Loreen, the winner song for Eurovision 2023, sampled Flying Free by Pont Aeri, one of the most representative songs of the Bakala movement.
  • MC Mental at his Best, a popular British Chav meme song, sampled X, Paceland by DJ Konik. This connection can be explained by how Mákina music is really popular in some regions of the United Kingdom.

External Links[]

External resources can help you get a better understanding of this movement.

Gallery[]

Flyers[]

Cover Arts[]

References[]

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