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The thousand and one voices: Bogotá Rock history

The thousand and one voices: Bogotá Rock history

Music is fundamental in culture. The sounds explore the most sensible dimensions of human emotionality. We all remember unique moments from our life by a song and anyone has stopped singing to disaffection. Culture history would be unthinkable without considering the sounds that have accompanied and characterized unprecedented historical and political moments. Of course, Bogota is not the exception and exploring its sounds is a fascinating job. In this opportunity, we will talk about rock history in this city, full of buildings and histories about to tell.

Between the sixties and seventies decades, young people from all over the world were shouting together for world peace. Thus, chants to freedom, justice, and peace showed up. These sounds arrived at Bogotá by means of the radio. Nights from the capital were enlivened by a program broadcasted by Jimmy Reiskback between eleven and half-past eleven in the night. There were transmitted some of the referents of that time: Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard. Traditionally, this radio would characterize by its closeness to Mexican cultural music, marked by its fidelity to ranchera, music which was once listened to most by older adults.

Magnenat Trujillo, Serio (1960). Caracas Avenue. Chapinero, Bogotá

The energy generated by the sounds imported from North America and West Europe, vented in the creation of many musical groups and an outstanding cluster of production and record label dissemination. In 1964 the two most distinguished musical groups came along in Bogotá: The Flippers and The Speakers. Their first tracks were notable covers from the most-listened musical groups in the world. The closeness between these groups and the city inhabitants grew significantly.

Presentations in the Bogotan public space were numerous for these years. The Hippies park, located at Chapinero’s heart, permitted the encounter between numerous young people greedy for experiences and sensations. There were performed some theatrical and circus encounters, movies were screened, and storytellers and rock bands presented live. Such a wonderful place.

Chapinero, Bogotá at 1895

Along with the park, it appeared some youth shops which sold clothes and musical discs. Rock lovers from such times shared different style features. The long hair and coloured clothes wearing represented Bogotan youth for those years. Nevertheless, these practices bothered profoundly a great segment of the Colombian population who conserved conservative values and beliefs. With the intention to assert their lifestyle and to protest against traditional ways of living, in 1968 it took place the Marcha de los melenudos (shaggies parade). This juvenile encounter extended from the seventh avenue between 60 street and 28 street. Singing and dancing, thousands of youngsters encountered for presenting their opinions and to make callings for change.

When the rock scene from the seventies and sixties is reminded, it is necessary to mention the presence of different psychoactive substances in the creative process of some musical groups. This would provide an aesthetic in which it would play a whole sequence of symbols and social values. One of the most representative cases would be the production of The Beatles album Sargent Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band

Second Portrait by The Speakers

This album and the artistic proposal that represented influenced The Speakers profoundly. In 1968 it would be launched their last job. In such times, the group was coming through hard economic needs. Then Manuel Drezner appeared as the owner of the Ingresón Studios. Manuel offered his recording centre to the band during nights and early mornings with the condition that the name of his company would appear on their record. So, the band would produce The Speakers en el maravilloso mundo de Ingresón (The Speakers in the wonderful world of Ingresón). Between the tracks there are Oda a la gente mediocre, Si la Guerra es buen negocio, invierte y salmo del siglo XX, era de la destrucción. We can identify a considerable distance with the classic styles. By the other side, inside the record, we could find a little colored square. There could be read “for extrasensory experiences, swallow without chewing it”. It is said that many young people hallucinated once they ingested this substance. It is also said that this record should be considered as one of the most outstanding pieces in the history of music. Nevertheless, sells did not fulfill with the expectations and the band had to disappear.

Time has passed, and rock has been consolidating as a fundamental cultural referent in Bogotá. Definitely, the planning and execution of rock al Parque have been central to this process. Here we talk about the biggest outdoor music festival in Colombia and one of the most prominent from the continent. This festival has been celebrated since 1994 and it had gathered rock lovers from different generations. The firsts festivals were celebrated at La Plaza de Toros de La Santa María.  Over the years the seating increased and the Simon Bolivar Park was adapted as the scenario in which yearly notable exponents of global rock come together. At this great party, enormous groups from the global and Latin American musical culture have encountered, such as Soda Estéreo, La Pestilencia, Café Tacvba, Molotov and Atari Teenage Riot. During each one of these festival celebrations dances and chants have been the principal players. Let us all hope for this never-ending.

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Bogotá: A city lost between museums

Bogotá: A city lost between museums

Bogotá is the capital city of a great country called Colombia. Exploring around its territory takes you to encounter endless landscapes, flavours and odours. Definitely, one of the most notable qualities in this world point is its infinite diversity. Each one of the corners of Colombia presents a very special nuance and a great colour palette. It would be necessary to stop and visit each one of the country’s regions to ask for the past of these territories and to listen to its landscapes. Nevertheless, there is another alternative: to visit the museums ubicated at Bogota’s downtown at length, in particular, those located in La Candelaria locality. There it is possible to meet with spaces worried about making a narrative from the past and present from different corners of Colombian geography.

Printed by Luis Alberto Acuña (1936) Landscapes of Bakatá – today, Bogotá –

Let’s start by one of the most important: the Colombian National Museum. There we will find the past of different locations of this beautiful country. In the Caribbean, this paradise, aphrodisiac Eden of sounds and flavours, was once inhabited by indigenous people that today, unfortunately, do not exist. During prehispanic times, we use to find different cultural groups organized between Magdalena’s coast and Santa Marta’s Sierra Nevada. These human groups used to work as fishing labours and their work led us to a distinguished artistic production gamut that reminds us of their most intimate beliefs. If we take a moment to imagine who would it be to live on Colombian coasts 8000 years before, we would have to consider the high temperatures of these territories, along with the high humidity in the space and the presence of numerous animals. One of the most important pretensions of some indigenous groups is to undertake strategies that permit a successful encounter with humans and nature. The linking is so profound that and animals and nature are generally present in different objects created by these groups. During festivities and celebrations, sounds that used to emulate animals were typical. Spiritual animal creatures integration to the human world was looked for.

Tairona’s Anthropomorphous whistle. Colombian National Museum. La Candelaria, Bogotá

Once at La Canderia’s centre, our looking will be centred at the most important cultural apple in Bogotá. Luis Angel Arango Library helps to conserve one of the most important collections of Colombian art. The old paths to the country’s centre can be recognized in some watercolours framed in the XIX century by Ramón Torres Méndez. Bogotá has passed through profound transformations in different moments of its history. The paths that nowadays conform to La Candelaria, were once transited by men and women who occasionally had to look for water on different spots located at different locations in the city. Candelaria’s neighbourhoods used to look like the lands and villages from other places in the country. The clothes from these territory inhabitants were ragged, and the hats and alpargatas wearing was very common. The great farms, together with the trees and impressive rivers presence, used to present a very different face from the aspect that the city has nowadays. Definitely, years passed by and Bogotá has stopped from being that huge village narrated by old chroniclers, to profiling itself as of the biggest cities in Latin America.

Bogotá Butcher.

Streets from Candelaria will take us to the Museo del Oro, one of the most impressive museums in the city. This place conserves the biggest prehispanic gold collection. It involves 34000 pieces that narrate the everyday life, beliefs, celebrations and festivities from the human groups that once inhabited Colombian territory before Spaniards arriving. The beauty and aspect from these pieces confirm an outstanding development of the technical processes from different cultural groups which once expanded over this territory. It is really fascinating the shine and the innumerable details that are contained in these great artworks.

Bogotá, Colombia

One of the most beautiful works is the quimbayan poporo located on the second floor of the Museum. It involves a ritual object utilized in specific occasions from the everyday life of this cultural group. It seems that different ethnic groups established in Colombia consider that words, language and orality, are fundamental elements in the moment of establishing social and political relations. The words that we use have a direct effect on the representations that we have from the world and the others. These are going to be the most important reflection of humans and societies. These groups make a difference between hot word and cold word. The first one is related to the sharp words that are utilized by those invaded by jealousy, anxiety and mistrust. Such acoustic intonations tend to unfortunate outcomes. On the other side, we have words pronounced during a calm and peaceful state of mind. The transit between hot word and cold word is linked to the using of particular objects and substances. The quimbayan poporo was once utilized for containing coca that subsequently would be chewed for a considerable time by the native. To chew, chew and chew. This act is known as member and permits a fortunate pass between the hot word to the cold word.

It is very important to highlight the artistic development from some cultural groups located in Colombia, particularly in the sculpture field. There are great works from the communities of San Agustín and Tierradentro. These groups used stones as raw material for the designing and production of pieces that narrate part of their everyday lives and cultural beliefs. There is a great concern for representing human body in relation to the animals. These two elements would be located in a horizontal frame in which there would not any supposed superiority between rationality and the mythical. The human would be in relation to a natural order that exceeds it and its rational abilities would be in service to the other members of nature. It is necessary to finish emphasizing the belonging of many indigenous beliefs to the contemporary world.  

We invite you to follow our Museums City Tour and explore our history! 🙂

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The stories of La Candelaria, Bogotá

The stories of La Candelaria, Bogot

Few Bogotans would keep silent if someone asked about La Candelaria. Inevitable. We refer to one of the most representative places in Bogotá. Its history is told since prehispanic times. It would be so difficult to imagine every landscape that this city spot has projected. In every moment of its history, La Candelaria has been a witness to endless scenes.

Acuña, Luis Alberto (1936) Muiscas gods

Bogotá was originally known as Bakatá. The Muiscas were the native indigene community who inhabited this territory. Although is hard to imagine, it was so easy to bump into some river or lake through the old paths of Bogotá. One of the most important was the San Francisco River. It represented the central place that water had for Muisca’s culture. Bakatá meant ploughland (Tierra de Labranza).

After giving birth, the women of this indigenous group bathed with their babies with the water of this torrent. Being under the water would represent love, care, and oneness between the members of the community. At the same time, the river had substantial importance for the development of practices such as agriculture. As descending from the eastern hills, the water flow gave great fertility to lands next to the affluent. The food left by the earth nourished Muiscas for a long time. As well as the San Francisco, there were other important rivers as San Agustín, Fucha, and Arzobispo. Sometimes, the beauty of these places was caught by the work of some artists. This was the case of Tequendama Falls (Salto Del Tequendama), a splendid place at other times. 

The rhythms and lifestyles of La Candelaria’s village have been deeply transformed along with history. The slow walks of the Muiscas were substituted by the bohemian rounds of poets, literati, and draftsman who met frequently in various coffee shops of the Bogotá downtown. One of the most relevant for many years was the Café Windsor. In its seats could be seen people like Pedro Nel Gómez, a prominent artist who painted several scenes of Colombian history. Also, it would have been possible to come across Ricardo Rendón, a deeply cynical cartoonist who denounced the conservative governments that led the destinies of Colombia. His silent, but fulminating traces, were used to denounce the abuses of the public forces and the clumsiness of the Colombian governors.

Bogota in 1830. Made by Albert Bertrand

Many have used painting and art to utter their ideas out loud. In Bogotá is not a surprise to run into coloured walls, written edges made by nocturnal inhabitants who enter the city to leave their voice. In this city, there is graffiti on bridges, avenues, and streets. There you can see the signatures of different artists, drawings and messages of all political tone. Single words, revolutionary alerts, football cheers, lyrics, and the image of a twentieth-century martyr. They’re all there, in the middle of ten million inhabitants and a lot of cars. These images have a very particular history, written in songs and drawn on the most hidden walls of this city.

The Snail Strategy (Fragment) Cabrera, Sergio (1991) Colombian Movie

As if they were not enough, the cinema has been responsible for composing more stories about the streets of Bogotá. This city has been a model portrayed in numerous artworks. Since the first years of the 20th century, various films started to be produced, interested in making a portrait of the living conditions in the city and the country. One of the most important works could be Wandering Shadows (2004) (La Sombra del Caminante), directed by the outstanding director Ciro Guerra, who has also produced recognized and award-winning works such as Embrace of the Serpent (2015) (El Abrazo de la Serpiente) and Birds of Passage (2018) (Pájaros de Verano). The life of the urban walkers of Bogotá was the main concern in this particular work, where the story of two men who wander around the city streets is told. Unfortunately, both have deplorable living conditions. Normally, the characters had to find a corner of Bogotá to sleep at night, an abhorrent lifestyle that affects more and more people. During history, these men establish a friendship relationship, fragmented when one of them confesses that he commanded the paramilitary group that murdered the other’s family.