La movida madrileña no sucedió nunca

In the summer of 1995, contemplating another possible writing project, I popped into a bookstore in Prosperidad (my home neighborhood in Madrid) to see what had already been written about la movida madrileña. I knew better than to try to find anything on my own (Spanish bookstores are not in the least bit user-friendly: the books tend to be out of reach, high up or behind counters, and they also tend to be completely indistinguishable from one another, as a mass: in Spain, if you were to judge a book by its cover, you'd be justified in believing that if you've read one, you've read them all).

So anyway, I approached the store owner and made my inquiry directly. His response was that there was no such thing as la movida madrileña. Knowing that I had not invented the term, I pressed him. "So what was there?" "Pues, nada. Eramos jóvenes." We were young, he told me, and then we got older and stopped going out so much. He was convinced,from his own firsthand experience of the early to mid-eighties, and perhaps not unreasonably, that what some called, or had called, la movida madrileña was nothing more than a youthful club scene, the first of its kind in Spain perhaps, but typical, insignificant, and of a kind nonetheless. I left the bookstore empty-handed but with a broadened perspective.