Choosing a genre of music to define Madrid is an almost impossible task. For many, the pop-rock of the Movida is still the style that best represents the local Madrid character. Others emphatically claim that flamenco, added to UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010, is the definitive music of the Spanish capital. Jazz, meanwhile, evokes the frenetic pace of Gran Vía. And electronic music is emblematic of this nocturnal city. These and other genres also appear towards the top of this hypothetical list of the sounds of Madrid. Together with Iberia Express, Noche en Vivo (Madrid Association of Music and Entertainment Venues) and Noche Madrid (Nightlife Association of Madrid), we decided to ask a group of Madrileños how they would define the sound of their city. This is what we learned.
Damián Romero, the maître of renowned flamenco club Corral de la Morería, told us that when he closes his eyes and listens to flamenco he is transported to the streets of Lavapiés, “a quintessential Madrid neighbourhood”. This comes as no surprise; not only is the area brimming with open-air cafés, restaurants and charming little plazas, “Lavapiés moves to the sound of flamenco from the first coffee of the morning to the last tapas of the night”. Flamenco is found all across the city, however, not just in Lavapiés. Two of Madrid’s most famous flamenco clubs, Las Tablas and Café de Chinitas, are a stone´s throw from Plaza España.
Many of the pieces found in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum are steeped in the sound of jazz. Jackson Pollock painted to the rhythms of Duke Ellington. The German painters of the 1930s make up a large part of the museum’s collection and Berlin, the city so often depicted in their work, has always been a jazz hotspot. Carmen Llorente, official guide at the Thyssen-Bornemisza, says that “many of the paintings in the collection emit that unmistakable jazz aura, and some even remind you of a certain exquisite trumpet player or a specific gravel-voiced singer”. A great way to round off your visit to the Thyssen-Bornemisza is with a jazz performance held regularly in venues like Clamores, Bogui Jazz and El Despertar.
For designer Moisés Nieto, the Malasaña district is still a hive of cutting-edge activity. He explains that “in the 1980s, Malasaña was the epicentre of the Movida Madrileña, one of the stand-out, defining moments in Spanish pop culture”. Today, you can hear the best indie music at a host of venues across the city such as Moby Dick, El Solo and Siroco. That said, Malasaña remains the barrio of choice for the hipsters of Madrid, with a wide range of alternative shopping options.
Nights out in Madrid seem to last forever, with electronic music sessions lasting until sunrise. Anthony May confirms that Madrid is one of the best party cities in the world. “Here, you go out to meet people and enjoy yourself. There’s no prejudice or preconceptions. There is somewhere to go every day of the week, whether you’re looking for a quiet bar to talk the night away or a place to go crazy and dance up a storm”. No night owl worth their salt can afford to miss Bar Museo Chicote, Joy Eslava or Kapital.
Taking on board the suggestions of our local experts, we have compiled a selection of playlists available on our Spotify profile (visitmadrid). The four playlists are inspired respectively by a tapas evening in Lavapiés, a wander through the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, a day’s shopping in Malasaña and a night out in Madrid. You can hear them at take-off and landing on Iberia Express flights until the end of the year.