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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Looking back on the ‘80s, looking forward to the future

‘80s - the golden era

As the lockdown kept extending, I wouldn’t be the only one who is sadly almost used to the lack of new cultural stimulation. Instead of looking forward to something new, it’s easier to fall into a habit of looking back on the ‘better’ old days to feel nostalgic… but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing; we can take an advantage of this given lockdown time to revisit our good old days.

In my case, this tendency of being retrospective enabled me to re-discover the glamour and energy of the ‘80s pop culture. It depends on your age, it could be ‘70s or ‘90s to you, but to me, it’s the ‘80s that fulfilled my childhood and youth. With the updated technology and social networking services, which we didn’t have back then, we can now easily access quite a few audio and visual materials from the past, as if making a virtual trip back in time to re-breathe my/our beloved ‘80s.

Growing up in Japan, I had little mental attachments to the ‘80s cultures of other countries. Nevertheless, researching a little on the era in Spain, from where I was both culturally and geographically far away, I could smell the similar excitement and passion shared in that particular time, regardless of the location. I wonder why the ‘80s were so special...

La Movida and the ‘80s

In Spain, at least, there is a certain reason why the ‘80s were exciting. The heatwave had much to do with La Movida Madrileña, a countercultural movement started in Madrid. Although triggered by the end of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975, the official starting date of this movement is said to be 9th February 1980 when ‘Concierto homenaje a Canito’ (Canito Memorial Concert) was held as a tribute to a drummer José Enrique Cano Leal, known as Canito. In the footage below, we definitely feel the explosive air of the ‘80s:

Homenaje a Canito (1/9) - Mermelada

Marking the cultural transgression from Franco’s repressed era to the explosion of free and new Spanish culture, La Movida influenced various areas of arts in Spain, including music, photography, painting, literature, etc. Pedro Almodóvar is often mentioned as the representative of this wave in the film industry. What about the field of flamenco?

Nuevo Flamenco in the ‘80s

In terms of flamenco, the youngsters who grew up listening to the cutting-edge artists such as Camarón de la Isla, Enrique Morente and Paco de Lucía emerged as professionals in the ‘80s and refreshed the music scene by fusing flamenco with other music genres. One of the famous examples is Pata Negra, a band of the brothers Raimundo Amador and Rafael Amador, who added the rich, dark flavour of blues and rock music to flamenco:

Pata Negra (with Juan José Amador, La Caita, Carmelilla Montoya, etc., 1984)

Ketama is another band that also caused a sensation in the ‘80s, fusing flamenco positively with salsa, jazz, and later hip hop and even house music. Their musical versatility divided flamenco audiences between conservatives who detested their works and the young, who enjoyed the experimental sounds:

Ketama ‘Vente pa Madrid’ (late 1980s)

We’re still living the ‘80s

The recording company called Nuevos Medios launched a label Nuevo Flamenco under which many artists released their works of flamenco fusion. However, when we say Nuevo Flamenco to simply mean New Flamenco, the territory expands to cover from a little older figures of Camarón, Enrique Morente and such to much younger artists including Ojos de Brujo and even Enrique Morente’s children, as far as their musical styles are regarded beyond traditional flamenco. Up to the very recent star Rosalía, Nuevo Flamenco isn’t ‘new’ anymore, but rather became a part of the flamenco tradition, continuing until today.

In other words, the movement that emerged in the ‘80s is still influencing us - the epoch when the culture in general was more optimistic, powerful, creative and energetic. Considering the fact that we could feel the same ‘80s-ness regardless of the countries, at least among the so-called modern societies, the feeling might be universal, either in Japan or the UK or Spain.

When it’s hard to maintain the hope of looking forward to the future, it’s OK to enjoy looking back on the lovely past. It’s better than feeling simply depressed about the current situation. Besides, re-experiencing those energetic days could refill our spirit in order to stay positive. After all, if the lockdown hopefully ends, we might not be allowed such a luxurious time for doing so.

New Flamenco (Nuevo Flamenco)


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