The Catalan rumba. Also a way of life.
Written by Domènec Ludenya Calpe.
Facing this text is like doing an X-ray of what my last 30 years have been in my relationship with the Catalan rumba, it will not be easy. My intention is to collect important concepts that I have been reflecting on the Catalan rumba, everything it has given me and what I have tried to contribute.
I can say that my relationship with the Catalan rumba began with the "Manolos" in their masterful participation in the Barcelona 92 Olympic Games, along with the song by Peret Gitana Hechicera. Here I was aroused a basic interest in finding out what was the secret that differentiated this music from the others. I felt that the Catalan rumba connected me, took me to a state of joy, energy and passing it bomb and that was a differential, unique feature.
My musical beginnings were through classical music, specifically with the violin. What was the fan? This shocked me a lot, from an academic point of view I couldn't imagine how to write the rhythmic facts of the hands on the flamenco or rumba guitar, what rhythmic forms were they? how were they written on paper? where could I poison it?
I will take a leap towards the late 1990s, where I met my first Catalan rumba companion, Roger Lozano Serret, a magnificent guitarist, who continues studying and continues to progress with guitar, rumba, flamenco and jazz. We both studied in Lleida, in the Central. He Art History and I Geography, university degrees that allowed us to combine our family commitment to study with a leisure, the guitar from the Roma point of view. Lleida City Council organized a Catalan rumba workshop in the neighborhood of La Seu Vella, a marginal area, where drugs and prostitution were the picturesque landscape of those narrow streets, shady but full of life. There I met two members of La Violeta, Toni Pallejà and Paquito Salazar, Bamba, as well as Manoli, at that time a feminine and very young voice that left us all speechless that sang by Niña Pastori i la Pati, dancer of the same group, a living sculpture. From there, I got private flamenco lessons with Toni Pallejà where I learned a lot and a lot from the secrets of the gypsy hand and the well-behaved compass. Joys and buleries were the sticks where I delved deeper, enough to realize that the flamenco guitar was pure magic but it took years and years of study and improvement… something that at that time I was living fat and I was going to do many other things. It was a golden age of my life accompanied by the discovery of Camarón with Tomatito, the madman of Paco de Lucía, who ate apart, the Chichos and the smoke of marijuana, which tied my life like oil a good sauce.
Through this approach to the flamenco hand, I saw another weapon to start facing the Catalan rumba, less demanding than flamenco, and where I felt more identified by the openness and freedom that music itself gives off.
It was from 2002 that I went to live in the Raval District of Barcelona to continue my university studies in Art and Design where the world of Catalan rumba opened up in front of me as the Red Sea opened in Moses. Without realizing it I had gone to ground zero, and gradually I became aware of the luck of being able to meet, meet and share with the living history of the Catalan rumba of Barcelona. In Lleida they defended that the Catalan rumba was from there, through the carob trees, but in my opinion, when the Catalan rumba takes on a modern dimension is when Peret, Pescailla, Chacho, el Noi, Ramunet and many more catapult the genet towards the fusion and modernity that entails being Barcelona and living in the middle of the mess.
The Catalan rumba demands flamenco technique in hand, a precise flamenco rhythmic sense, a tropical rhythmic sense, urban lyrics and compositions with pop spirit, where everyone can sing, dance, clap hands, learn their return and smile.
Life in Barcelona's Raval district is nothing. I could tell from ravalera life that it is a pass, intense as nothing like anything else, where the world passes under your house you want. Living in the Raval opens your mind, myths fall, everything is possible, transforms you into someone different, with more experience, fills you with the agenda of activities, parties and social movements and where survival will depend on your ability to take care of yourself or self-destruct. At this time and in this environment is when I arrive at my house Rufino Bravo Casado by chances of life.
With Rufino we quickly become complementary. He sings and gives a show like nobody else, I am a beginner Catalan rumba guitarist but with a 100% soul and environment. We know we have to get together and that's how we do.
In three years we went from touching the bench of the Rambla del Raval to touching the festival of Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Santaco. The beginning will be in the defunct Barrio Kandela bar on Carrer de l'Om, where we will make ourselmyself a guru of an atmosphere, of the moment. The repertoire we use is Peret, Chacho, Amaya and Bambino. The perfect music, the ideal place and the most energetic atmosphere I've ever seen. We went to Peret's studio, an unforgettable afternoon. And there we were, passing our juventut in the best possible way. What did we contribute to the songs? We were making them reborn. At that time the Catalan rumba did not sound anywhere. As current groups were Macaco, Ojos de brujo and Manu Chao, Papawa, Micu, Pantanito, Barrio Negro, Very Pomelo and words I don't remember, of course. In this transit we really reflect on what we want to contribute to the Catalan rumba. We are committed to trying to mix it with electronic music. Here comes Diego Vázquez de Horyaans, surely one of the funniest people on the planet, intelligent as few, race fiestero and expert in electronic music adapted to live. We started testing and they are a success, we quickly spread the audience and the name Rufino y Don Domingo is disseminated. This was our contribution, to use electronics as another instrument in a Catalan rumba combo. We managed to make three very cool songs, The Loop, the Great Manzana and another one that I don't remember the name. At this glorious moment Vale Music calls us, Universal and offers us a contract but with the condition of leaving electronic music. Here comes the message, never stop doing what really connects with you in some order of the powerful. We made a wonderful album and a brutal band, the best possible of the moment… but I did not connect with me, because I had left behind an aesthetic of modernity, a Barcelona spirit, that the new project did not have. (quoting musicians). Before the record deal we were playing at all barna's alternative parties. When we went out partying we went to the radishes that were mounted with a very well planned irregularity in Poblenou, in Gràcia, in Sants, in Hospitalet etc… We danced techno-trance in busy industrial buildings and was forced to put electronic music on the rumba, but no, the human being is always noncomformist. We already had everything!, a winning, modern project, and most importantly we had people. When we signed we abandoned people, we stopped playing where we always played, we put aside the people who loved us. We paid for this very dearly. Maybe one in the top five of the big mistakes of my life. That if, the album we recorded with Vale Music Universal sounds like the òstia, if you want here you can listen to it and value the quality of the project. Still I would turn back and take the other way.
After this announced defeat, I return to the underground with a clear idea. Conquer the street again. As? with STK and barrio Kandela supporters club, more dangerous than dangerous, braver than the brave and in the best place in the world. In the center. Catalan rumba is not just a style of music. It is committed that it is also a lifestyle and when this lifestyle begins to disappear, the rumba that comes out of its hands feels affected, with a drop in intensity, less creativity and less flame in the soul. From that moment on, we must choose between music, health, family and a balance between all factors.
This writing will expand as the anecdotes or memories reach the gray matter of my brain.
I was a child of