Curat­ed by Bea Pelea: Barcelona’s reg­gae­ton scene

Meet the movers, shakers and taste-makers of BCN’s ever-growing alt-reggaeton brigade.

It’s nev­er hard to find reg­gae­ton in Barcelona. It’s always been in the guiri clubs in the port where the main­stream peo­ple go to dance to Dame más gasoli­na’’,” laughs 26-year-old Bea Pelea. Or in lit­tle spots where Latin peo­ple throw their own real­ly true par­ties. So if you want­ed to dance to reg­gae­ton you went to the real­ly big clubs or the real­ly tiny ones.” 

But the intrin­si­cal­ly inter­na­tion­al and high-ener­gy sound has now found its way firm­ly onto the pro­grammes of for­ward-focussed and taste-mak­ing clubs like Razzmatazz and Sala Apo­lo. And it’s all thanks to a tight scene who’ve come from across Spain to make Barcelona a base for reg­gae­ton 2.0.

La Can­gri is a month­ly Fri­day night affair that sees Sala Apo­lo flood­ed with fake nails, fake Guc­ci and very real danc­ing. They want­ed to throw a reg­gae­ton par­ty and they asked me to host,” explains Bea. It made sense for the artists them­selves to decide who to book. And it gave me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring in inter­na­tion­al and local artists who I love.” 

Bea comes with pedi­gree. Her 2018 mix­tape, Reg­gae­ton Roman­ti­co Vol.1, sealed her sta­tus as a seri­ous part of the new wave. Plus, hav­ing moved here from Grana­da in 2015 with an entire crew that includ­ed Yung Beef, La Zowi and Steve Lean, she knows all the right people. 

At the new par­ties, women and gay guys feel more com­fort­able. Danc­ing is such an impor­tant part of reg­gae­ton. It’s nice to be able to move your ass with­out guys being sleazy. But the straight guys are wel­come too – I want there to be romance for everyone.”

Can­gri is clas­sic old-school reg­gae­ton speak for a kind of boss man, with Dad­dy Yan­kee being the ulti­mate can­g­ri­man, so Bea pre­sent­ing her­self as La Can­gri speaks vol­umes. Reg­gae­ton has his­tor­i­cal­ly suf­fered from a boys’ club men­tal­i­ty, but this indie scene is a space where women oper­ate across all dis­ci­plines – with a healthy dose of crossover with the city’s queer scene.

The new par­ties that we’re throw­ing are places where women and gay guys feel more wel­come and com­fort­able,” Bea explains. Danc­ing is such an impor­tant part of reg­gae­ton. It’s nice to be able to move your ass with­out guys being sleazy. The straight guys are wel­come too – I want there to be romance for every­one. Come to my par­ty, dance, but know that we won’t accept any atti­tudes oth­er than tol­er­ance and warm welcomes.”

We met up with a post-Pri­mav­era Bea Pelea, hoarse but still immac­u­late, to talk about Barcelona’s ever-grow­ing alt-reg­gae­ton brigade. There’s a real scene here but it’s a small one. We want to grow the scene step by step. We want it hap­pen organically.”

THE PEO­PLE

La Mafia del Amor

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Yung Beef, Kaidy Cain and Khaled are big in the Bar­ca trap scene. Per­haps like a grime crew embark­ing on a garage side-project, they cre­at­ed La Mafia del Amor to sat­is­fy their pure reg­gae­ton yearnings.

I love that they were the first band that decid­ed to play reg­gae­ton in Spain to our gen­er­a­tion. They start­ed mak­ing peo­ple dance to it in par­ties. Before them it was all hip-hop and rap. With them every­thing changed. Also the songs, the melodies, the mean­ings are soooo reggaeton.”

La Zowi

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Poster girl for La Ven­di­cion Records, La Zowi is an exper­i­men­tal-lean­ing trap artist with a strong pres­ence in the reg­gae­ton scene. She’s col­lab­o­rat­ed with promi­nent Atlanta rap pro­duc­ers 808 Mafia.

With La Zowi it’s all about the atti­tude. We grew up togeth­er – we’ve known each oth­er since we were kids on Grana­da. We’ve col­lab­o­rat­ed togeth­er loads. We don’t need major labels, we can release our own music. It’s a real­ly free way to make music and to make it exact­ly how we want it. We don’t need man­agers, we can just start a chat.”

Ms Nina

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Ms Nina is the hyper colour, sex-pos­i­tive and max­i­mal­ist queen of the Barcelona gay scene. She’s also a reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tor with Bea Pelea.

I start­ed singing because Ms Nina per­suad­ed me to try it. Ms Nina was the first one who did the new wave of reg­gae­ton along with La Mafia del Amor – she real­ly made it hap­pen in Barcelona. She’s also mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary. She start­ed just try­ing to see what would hap­pen with her voice when she sang. Now she’s cre­at­ed this whole persona.”

Badgyal

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Barcelona reggaeton’s biggest export has col­lab­o­rat­ed with Pop­caan pro­duc­er Dubbel Dutch and left­field UK acts like Jam City and Flo­renti­no – but she’s still very-much con­sid­ered one of the crew. 

What she does is real­ly pro­fes­sion­al. She tried to cre­ate a unique sound with­in a scene — she took dance­hall influ­ences and used them to make some­thing dif­fer­ent. Just like Ms Nina was the first to play reg­gae­ton, Badgyal did some­thing sim­i­lar with dance­hall. Also, she worked with CANA­DA — they’re so smart. Badgyal’s so visu­al. She plays a lot with her image.”

THE PAR­TIES

La Can­gri

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When I was young I lived in Guatemala and Mex­i­co, so I was grow­ing up lis­ten­ing to old reg­gae­ton. If you come to La Can­gri you can hear real pas­sion for the oldies. We’re like the fam­i­ly option!

For me what was impor­tant was to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where every­body – men, women, gay peo­ple – felt com­fort­able to dance. I final­ly feel like I’ve made it hap­pen – peo­ple keep com­ing up and ask­ing me when the next par­ty is. They’ve found a place where they can dance and feel free. 

I also want it to be a meet­ing place for Latin artists. They come here, come up with ideas togeth­er and col­lab­o­rate. I wan­na sup­port the scene. We will make reg­gae­ton great again!”

Marabu

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This is CANADA’s par­ty and it’s prob­a­bly the most hip­ster of all the new options. They’re more exper­i­men­tal. They like to book reg­gae­ton artists but also real­ly extreme and inter­est­ing artists who are chang­ing elec­tron­ic music.”

Perreo 69

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When Yung Beef, Kaidy Cain and Khaled cre­at­ed La Mafia del Amor they decid­ed to do a par­ty called Perreo 69. That was back in 2016 and it felt like the first prop­er reg­gae­ton par­ty in Spain. Since then they’ve moved it all over the coun­try. It’s not on reg­u­lar­ly in Barcelona any­more, so if they throw a par­ty here you can’t miss it.”

Suave

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This is a par­ty at Razzmatazz where they book real­ly nice reg­gae­ton DJs, includ­ing me! The oth­er res­i­dents include La Fla­ca from Chi­ca Gang in Madrid and La Dia­bla from the Canaries. It’s in a big venue, so the environment’s a bit dif­fer­ent. Peo­ple aren’t there just for the reg­gae­ton; some peo­ple just stum­ble across it. That’s cool though as new peo­ple dis­cov­er the sound.”


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