La Movida Madrileña, meaning “The Action of Madrid”, was an unplanned countercultural movement from 1977 to 1985 in Spain. It began when Dictator Francisco Franco died and Spain erupted with pent-up energy. It was a movement that valued style over substance. The cultural revolution was evident in the music, subculture, fashion, alcohol, drugs, and sexual experimentation. La Movida took place primarily in Madrid, although some other cities such as Barcelona and Vigo had their own Movidas. Popular nightlife slang of the time reflected the spirit of the movement: “¿Dónde está la movida?”— “Where’s the action?”
La Movida began when Dictator Francisco Franco died in Madrid on November 19th, 1975. Franco’s 36-year reign had been one in which rigid public and church laws preserved the traditional role of family, enforced formal relations between the sexes, and controlled expression in the press and media. Eager to distance themselves from Franco’s repression and censorship, Spain quickly began the move to democracy called the “Transition”. King Juan Carlos I helped the transition by quickly naming Adolfo Suárez Prime Minister. Spain’s first democratic vote in over 40 years took place in 1977, and a new constitution was signed in 1978. That constitution is still in place now. In 1979, Enrique Tierno Galván became the mayor of Madrid, the capital of Spain. In this position he had a lot of power to help or hinder La Movida. His choices helped Spain to move past its repressive past. Then, in 1982 the Socialist PSOE party, headed by Felipe González, was voted in by a landslide and became Spain’s first leftist government since the 1930s.
Politics had played a large part in the movement’s beginning, and they continued to be important to La Movida as it progressed. The mayor of Madrid, Enrique Tierno Galván, supported the movement. Galván had an interesting and unconventional past. After being forced out of the Spanish university system for leading student protests against the dictatorship in the 60s, he came to Princeton in the United States. As mayor, Galván thought that La Movida was very healthy for post-Franco society. He and socialist Prime Minister Felipe González also saw the importance of building a new image of Spain for the outside world. The country was behind and had a lot of catching up to do after its nearly four decades of isolation and dictatorship. La Movida was a chance for Spain to prove to the world that it was changing for the better.
Things had begun to slightly change when Franco was alive, and they erupted when he had died. People who had left Spain in the 1960s to find work began to return, bringing with them their teenage children. These teeangers had grown up in the more relaxed cultures of neighboring countries like France, Germany, and Switzerland. Spain’s newfound freedoms made it more flamboyant. The overall sentiment was: “Taboos don’t exist, and the harder you party, the better”.
La Movida primarily took place in Madrid—...