After following each other on Instagram as teenagers and then linking up through a feminist poetry collective in 2015, Rocío and Albal of Chica Gang started going to a lot of gigs and clubs together. Soon after, they realised that they wanted to shake up Madrid’s nightlife.
One night, they paid around €23 entry for a club, only to leave before the main DJ came on because of the aggressive behaviour of the men on the dancefloor. And so they decided to start the Chica platform to creative safe spaces for women and LGBTQ+ people in Madrid’s music scene.
Chica Gang threw their first party in 2017 and, since then, their events have helped nurture Madrid’s underground music community. They’ve also booked out-of-town DJs like Coucou Chloe, DJ Florentino and Pxssy Palace co-founder Nadine Artois, and teamed up with collectives such as Bossy LDN and Barcelona’s Voodoo Club.
Chica Gang will also be DJing at this year’s Primavera Sound festivals, including a hometown show for the Madrid instalment on 8th June. Here’s their guide to the city’s determined underground clubbing scene.
The old school bars are the best for pre-drinks
We usually go to a typical bar, the ones that could have been there for over 40 years, where there are old men and the beers cost like €1. There are lots of them, such as Bodegas Lo Máximo, Bodegas Alfaro, Casa Labra, Bar Benteveo, Cafe Manuela, Cafeteria Mavi. And in Madrid, it’s typical to get tapas whenever you order drinks. You might get chips, ensaladilla rusa, bravas, torreznos or nuts, depending on where you go.
Everyone goes hard
The party usually ends quite late, because you meet up at like 10pm. Mostly, the clubs are open from like 2am until 6am. But people like to get to the club at like 2.30am – that’s the earliest you’ll see the club packed. Some clubs have been able to extend their schedule, to go on until 8am, but not any place in the centre, because it’s more difficult to get that kind of licence. On the more popular side of Madrid clubs, we recommend Mondo Club or Stardust.
The best place to go after the club is an after party at someone’s house from 6am until who knows when. Maybe in other countries, after parties are something that seem a bit dark or something. But it’s a big thing in Spain, you always have somewhere to go after the party. There are people who leave early, people who stay and people stay too long – but everyone really likes to party!
The scene overlaps with Barcelona and Valencia
In Spain, we’re always moving from one place to another. And during the pandemic, people started moving back and forth. You would start meeting people, and you might team up with someone. So people started connecting in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. Madrid and Barcelona’s club scenes are always connected. Madrid has more locally-focused nights, and Barcelona has a more international scene.
There have been serious issues with venues – but things are getting better
It’s really difficult to be an underground collective in Madrid, because venues will prefer a bigger party. And we’ve had other problems. For example, we had a party where the venue didn’t like the crowd because it was LGBTQ+ people and women. There are venues we’ve had to say no to because the security can be racist or homophobic. That’s one thing that has stopped us from doing lots of things, because it’s been hard to create safe spaces.
Before Covid, it felt like we were in a good place, where everything was moving forward. Sadly, it took a step back and we’ve been in a rut for a few years. But there’s talent there and there’s a lot of potential. There’s a lot of people who are doing cool stuff – even opening up venues and things like that. So I think it will change and we’ll get back to that evolution we had before Covid and make things better.
There a loads of DJs and collectives in the city
Madrid is a small city – it’s not Barcelona – so you get to know everyone. The DJs include JUGUETE, ratadeinternet, jovendelaperla, 8kitoo, Baldman, ch3lo, Emir B, DJ Sweat, Miravalles, Amaia Yaniz, Nahoomie, Yoz and Tronis (some of them are from Madrid, some from the rest of Spain, they’re moving a lot so it’s hard to keep track!). Some other good collectives are Dialektik, Mareo, CULPA, Puñal Dorao and Fiesta x Fiesta.