On my first night I raced through the city at sunset on a motorbike as the wind lifted the hem of my dress above my bare knees... A few days later, an enchanting Colombian girl took me to an ancient tapas bar with no chairs and the best tortilla in Madrid. Then there was the time my friend Martina, a willowy Austrian with Marc Bolan curls, invited me to watch the cult Super 8 film 'Arrebato' at the Filmoteca, followed by vermouth at a bar where they only played vinyl and everyone had long shiny hair. One evening I strolled through Retiro Park, queasy, yet enjoying the dusk cloaking the trees in shadows.
|A still from 'Arrebato', 1979.|
|Grace Jones in Vogue|
My friend Will invited us there to see his band play. The audience was loving Flat Worms, dancing, drumming their fingers on lanky thighs, and murmuring excitedly, even though it was only seven o'clock, which is practically the middle of the afternoon in Spain. After the gig we walked to a quiet bar called Picnic, where they serve cheap beers and frozen piña coladas.
|A madrileño, source unknown.|
After the feast of pasta and tiramisu, we stepped into a bar with faded rock posters and old covers of Melody Maker collaged onto the walls and ceilings. Girls were drawing on boys' arms; boys were looking at girls, while others played pool in the corner. I chanced upon an empty barstool and began the tower of coats with my sky-blue raincoat. Mayra and I danced to the 70s rock & roll and soon everyone joined us.
After it got too crowded, we ambled through a parade of debauchery in Malasaña, to a nightclub called Trashcan. We checked out the mostly Mod and psych crowd and found a spot near the dj. He was picking out the best 45s. Every song was fantastic. He put on the Buzzcock's single 'Ever Fallen in Love...' Everybody danced and sang along and swerved into each other with that elation that appears sometime between midnight and dawn. We met new friends, danced and hollered, and continued on our disco safari.
I found some pretty girls on the way to the next little club and invited them to join us. The brisk walk was enormously refreshing. We were ready for more dancing and excitement. Much frolicking later, it was the hour to part. To hunt for taxicabs that would deliver us to different corners of the city. We sauntered into the night, half-dreaming of sleep and tall glasses of water.
-Check out obscure films at the beautiful Cine Doré. Tickets cost around 3 euros.
-Madrid has some of the best art museums in the world. Modern art fans should check out the Reina Sofia Museum. It's massive and maze-like so bring a snack or have lunch and a coffee first. If you like traditional art (e.g. Velasquez and Goya) visit the Prado. The Fundación Canal usually has interesting shows and it's free. Here are my top picks of exhibitions on now/ this fall:
+Mucha at Palacio de Gaviro. Czech Art Nouveau in a beautiful palace with shell sinks. €12.
+Magnum Photos at Fundación Canal. Famous photographs and their contact sheets. Free.
+Zuolaga en el Paris de la Belle Epoque at Fundación Mapfre. Painted portraits. €3.
+Nicholas Nixon at Fundación Mapfre. American photographer. €3.
+Picasso/ Lautrec at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Paintings. €12.
-On Sundays, wander around El Rastro flea market for knickknacks, comic books and sexy magazines from the 70s. It ends around 2 or 3 pm.
-Pop into the bookshops and vintage stores in Malasaña (that's vaguely the Dalston/ Echo Park/ Bushwick of Madrid.)
|Madrid in the 80s, source unknown.|
THE BEST FOOD (All these are carnivore and vegetarian friendly.)
-My favorite restaurant is 80 Grados. Amazing menu del dia (4 dishes & a drink at lunchtime for €12.50). Try the salmorejo with parmesan ice cream, the truffled egg, and the crazy tiramisu. Make a reservation. c/Manuela Malasaña, 10. 914-458-351.
-Bodega de la Ardosa. Casual tapas bar from 1892. Try the croquetas. Veggies can also ask for a salad or salmorejo minus the jamon. Calle de Colón, 13.
-Chan Street. Chinese street food in Chueca/ Gran Via. (Though the menu appears to be non-vegetarian, veggies can ask which noodle dishes can be made with tofu instead of meat.) Try the saucy onion and garlic noodles, and green beans. Calle de Barbieri, 4.
-Casa Lafu. Elegant Sichuan Chinese restaurant. Calle Flor Baja, 1.
-Aio. Sardinian restaurant in Malasaña, open late. Try the saccottino pasta. Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 25.
-Fratelli d'Italia. Tasty, simple takeaway pizza place with a few seats in Lavapies. Try the arancini and Carbonara pizza. Calle del Sombrerete, 1.
-Fit Food. Fantastic salads and cold-pressed juices when you need to detox. Not all have the salads (there are 4) but this one does: Calle Génova 25. I suggest the avocado, edamame, tofu, mozzarella, egg, and quinoa salad with pesto dressing. They have lunch deals too for €10.
THE BEST BARS
-Bar Benteveo. Low-key, 70s vibes. Near Lavapies. c/Santa Isabel, 15.
-La Aguja. They only play vinyl, mostly rock & roll, friendly hip crowd. Calle del Ave María, 25
-Toni 2. Classic bar where everyone, young and old, stands around a grand piano and sings Spanish songs. Calle del Almte., 9.
-Picnic. Quiet cafe and bar with tea, beer, and cocktails. Calle Minas, 1.
-JoséAlfredo. Cocktail bar. A little pricey. Calle de Silva, 22.
-El Palentino. Simple, cheap, old-school locals' bar. Calle del Pez, 8.
-Or just walk around Lavapies and Malasaña and see what you find!
A bar in Malasaña, October 2017.
SMALL DISCOS & LATE NIGHT SPOTS
-Trashcan Music Club (check for 60s nights), La Vía Láctea (rock/indie scene), Wurlitzer (hit or miss but open very late, usually rock music.)
-Feel free to add more in the comments - I haven't covered the electro scene here...