Mulafest is a festival. A festival is pervasive. There is no place, no continent, no country, no community, no culture, no civilisation in which it isn’t present. Despite not always being taken into consideration, its omnipresence has ended up suggesting that it exists to fulfil a profound human need—that of celebrating. Whatever its specific focus, it must aspire to provide a context for ideas and become a mechanism in which ceremonial forms of frustration and enlightenment may be simultaneously expressed.
Mulafest is a city. Just as all living organisms create their own environment, man constructs the city that, in turn, transforms him so that he may reproduce it. However, this circular movement may acquire a certain creative meaning when individuals can revolutionise it with their imagination to produce a different city, one in which the dignifying of individual and collective existence acquires definitive values.
Mulafest is the urban trends festival held in a city in construction. Since 2012, the year of the first festival, the Mula group, in association with Ifema, celebrates during four days the building of a city. The various urban agents occupy a different space each year, reflecting an unfinished society in continuous transformation, yet always open and inclusive. This is its history to date.
The first urban trends festival was also the first great success of the Mula community. The different lifestyles and creative disciplines it represents, in constant development, came together in pavilions 2, 4, 6 and 14 of the Ifema fairground. Over the course of four days new and acclaimed talents from Spain and abroad built a stage on which they would appear, talk and interact with audiences. An intensive advertising campaign announced the first event during the previous months, making new acquaintances—Callao City Lights and the General Traffic Board—and becoming ‘infiltrated’ in supports that are not usually accessible to the genuine architects of the Mulafest city: Art, BMX, Dance, Garage, Music, Skate and Tattoo.
Under the sobriquet of ‘infiltrated,’ urban art was presented by 3TTMan, Boa Mistura, e1000ink, Ed Zumba, Know, José Luis Pérez Calvo, Remed, Ross & Friends, Spok and Zhoer. They painted the walls and invited visitors to join in. And as summer was here, Rocío Cañero, Julio Falagan, Maíllo and Okuda took over the four kiosks assigned by Kalise and distributed ice cream to the Mulafest ‘residents.’ There were exhibitions too: the ARTE40 Plastic Arts Award—showing the winning work by Lramascoto, and those by the two runners up, Natalia Alonso and María Revuelta Margolles—as well as the classical General Traffic Board posters. All accompanied by debates, talks and even workshops, such as the silkscreen printing activity organised by Hola Por Qué.
BMX had a proper park in which to perform its acrobatic acts and competitions for fans and devotees of two wheels and pedals. Over five thousand square metres in which to experiment and learn the tricks of professional bikers such as Sergio Layos—an absolute star of BMX Street in Spain. Those who were only seeking inspiration had the chance to become front-line spectators at an international competition, to discover emerging talents, watch a video selection of the eighties—when technological advances revealed the spectacle of these urban riders, take part in workshops and even in a film and video-editing studio dedicated to this form of urban movement.
Dance was an expressive platform for dancers of all styles, especially the most avant-garde, and for dance lovers. The great attraction was the Win+2 competition, that added elements to an ephemeral company instead of eliminating them. The event was an unprecedented choreographic challenge that included master classes given by some of the most famous figures from Spain and abroad. Sergio Alcover, Tony Escartín, Rocío Molina, Chevi Muraday, Rubén Nsue and Pau Vázquez, among others, worked with those who were just enjoying their hobby and with those who wanted to turn their love of dance into a way of life. They all found a space in which to liberate their creativity and enjoy exhibitions, discussions and a great closing gala offered by Perfordance and their vertical dance.
Garage culture is one of the main foundations of Mulafest. As such, it brought together creative and talented international artists of mechanics, like Bob Spina, Japanese custom-paint artist Masanobu Nakane and Danish artist Per Nielsen—Wrenchmonkees, along with the most famous of Spanish constructors, like Adolfo Calles—Bonneville Madrid, José Ferrer—Sueca Iron, Ricky López, Devil Inside Cycles, JPChoppers Kustom Works and Machina Custom Cycles. They all presented their boldest designs to the public, while some prepared their work live and even allowed the audience to take part in it. The Bike Show Mulafest 2012 competition witnessed the greatest gathering of constructors ever seen in Spain. Moreover, several shows presented the evolution of legendary makes, sharing space with four-wheeled vehicles: pony cars from the sixties and seventies like Corvettes, Chevrolet Camaros or Ford Mustangs alongside BMW, Café Racer by Honda or Triumph motorbikes.
During the month of May we programmed a series of concerts as a preview of the event. Once there, anyone willing to perform, either sing or play, before thousands of people was able to do so. As well as the interior areas, several exterior areas were set up so that those who wished to display their talent could do so without constraints. The 300-odd participation requests made by groups and soloists simply celebrated that the street also belongs to music. Those who attracted more audiences by day were offered the chance to share the stage during the night sessions with the acclaimed artists who performed in the clubs belonging to La Noche en Vivo, the Association of Live Music Venues in Madrid.
Over five thousand square metres of area, filled with obstacles, to practice skating and learn the best tricks performed by professionals like Jesús de Pedro. Every day the best tricks, divided into sections, were awarded cash prizes, though the novelty was the chance to skate on an ice cube: Kalise sponsored the initiative, the first of its kind to be held in Spain. A number of celebrities attended the event, such as Americans Tyler Surrey and Marius Syvanen, who were only passing through the city but made time to present their specialities: the former with his flip fs noses on the frozen obstacle and the latter with his fs blunt in the central area.
The other great pillar of the urban trends festival was, and still is, tattoo, which formed a part of the campaign carried out in May on the Madrid Metro, where passengers were able to see and participate in what lay in store for July. There was much to see and do as regards this profession and way of life during the four days of the first festival, although no doubt the most relevant was the celebration of an international tattoo convention once again in Madrid after an absence of several years. 150 cubicles welcomed the best tattoo artists, both national and international, who displayed their work and offered to tattoo all those visitors who chose to decorate their skin, in the style they thought identified them best. Furthermore, some of the most prestigious guests attended the event, such as the Horiken family from Japan and Chime Tahiti Tatau, who shared experiences with other studios, like La Mano Zurda, Le Tatouage, Mao & Cathy, Megarock Tattoos, Ostia Tattoo and V Tattoo. The activity closed with over six hundred tattoos having been made.
At the second urban trends festival, Mulafest was older and wiser, with greater content and intent on clearing physical hurdles and all those obstacles related to the possible social preconceptions regarding certain ways of acting and communicating. The event marked the consolidation of the Madrid Tattoo Convention, both on a national and an international level, and welcomed over 180 professional tattooists and studios such as Lowrider Tattoo, Tahití Tatou and Tahití Va’a Tatou. In the case of motors, the International Bike Show assembled over 150 professionals and made its name as one of the thirty-two international events in the Official World Championship of Custom Bike Building AMD World Championship. This unquestionable growth had a parallel in the city’s territorial expansion.
Urban art took the first great step to clearing the ‘hurdle’ of the Ifema fairground, as the organisation allowed its outer walls to be scaled and its inner areas to be explored for the very first time. In this context, the Boa Mistura group made its coloured carpet; Aryz, San, Herbert Baglione, Okuda, Sixe Paredes and Suso33 focused on the façades of the pavilions, and seven Spanish artists decorated the glass doors and windows of the occupied space with vinyls. Moreover, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza became a Mulafest ‘citizen’: the museum’s collaboration began with a debate on tattoo art programmed for the month of May, and continued with the erection of its own space in which, over four days, eight works in the museum’s permanent collection were reinterpreted by eight artists. Graffiti artists Remebe and Padu paid tribute to El Muelle; Lana Connection showed their talent with wool; and Galería de Magdalena, invited visitors to express themselves in words and messages thanks to a fridge that measured over thirty metres in length.
Thanks to Idonika’s joint venture with Kalise and its relationship with the Mula community at the first urban trends festival we succeeded in expanding the walls of the pavilions and creating a genuine urban oasis outside the fairground. The space was designed by Zuloark architecture team and decorated with designs by the illustrator Little is Drawing. La Isla was the ideal space to welcome all the typical activities and disciplines of the summer months: by day, BMX, Badminton, Dance, Parkour, Slackline and Volleyball displays, and by night the sounds of Manu Vulcano, Luis Santos, Sandro Ávila and Caradeniño were the culmination of a day filled with emotions.
The first urban trends festival had reserved a space for the micro-theatre, which closed with high attendance figures, as a result of which we decided that the theatre should gain a greater presence. In collaboration with Microteatro por Dinero we designed a continuous for the four days of the festival. Ten works: Ahí dentro—by Ramón Salazar; Álvaro y la fuerza del vino—by Nancho Novo; Angustias culturales del Telemarketing—by Marta Sánchez, Samuel Señas and José Serrano—; Este sistema me pone nerviosa—by Sergio Fanjul; La sorpresa del roscón—by Elvira Lindo; No la toques otra vez, Sam—by Nacho López; ¿Quién es Teodoro?—by Verónica Larios; Sexo 10.0—by Álvaro Tato; Swingers—by Paco Caballero; and Tres fechas en el calendario—de Concha Párraga and Antonio Ponce.
On the musical plane, the second festival also implied clearing another hurdle—that of sound. Once again, Ifema showed its support of live concerts held in its grounds. Two nights of open-air concerts that began with the American band Black Lips, the Mexicans Austin TV, Delorean from Guipuzcoa—who presented their new album Apar, and Spanish indie groups Triángulo de Amor Bizarro and Pony Bravo. On the Saturday, the performances continued with London bands Foreign Beggars and UZ, along with Swan Fyahbwoy, Mala Rodríguez and a y un group of six new hip-hop artists known as Young Blood Showcase: Víctor Rutty, Ziontifik, Erik Urano & ZAR 1, SDJ Crew, MDE Click and Suite Soprano.
Mulafest opens a window to the world, bringing a number of new urban disciplines to the public space that welcomed the second event. Such was the case of Parkour. Madrid’s traceurs Miguel Espada, Eddy Santa María and the Basque Dani Sampayo, accompanied by other Spanish practitioners like Pedró León from Vigo, Ginés Medina from Jaén, Óscar Sánchez from Alicante and Nico Sentis from Barcelona, enthusiasts of this form of movement, trained and took part in workshops for practitioners aged between twelve and sixteen. Furthermore, anyone who just wanted to practice could do so in a reserved space of 190 square metres and supervised by more experienced professionals.
Although the first festival already included this discipline, on this occasion it occupied the place it deserved. Thus, the fairground welcomed several areas in which the different forms of skating could be practiced and skaters could compete. Reputed Spanish professionals like Félix Caballero, Martín Bandera—at the head of the d de agresivo area, Adrian López—maximum representative of skids in Spain and responsible for the freeskate and slalom areas, and Aritz Ortega, made Mulafest an essential event for roller enthusiasts. Visitors were able to attend the daily demonstrations by Team In-Gravity and the didactic lessons given by the members of the Indoor Vhertikal Park sports club.
And the streets of Mulafest also welcomed basketball, with the celebration of several streetball competitions played by teams of three members. The activity unfolded in almost 500 square metres that were attended by a wide audience. Three demonstrations were held, supervised by participating streetballers, who shared their best movements with those present, as well as a friendly competition between the first and second Spanish teams, The Lawyer and Desmond Jump, respectively. The trainers of the teams in the Federación Española de Baloncesto and the participation of Mktbox consolidated the success of the activity.
Fans and professionals of this urban sport took centre stage at the urban trends festival. As an alternative to the traditional indoor use of tools and training apparatus, this sport takes physical exercise out on the street, which in itself is like a huge gym. The Barbarrio group led the Workout activities, explaining the key principles of amusement, integration and solidarity. Over 160 square metres welcomed professionals and amateurs, who were able to practice and watch the programmed demonstrations. The well-attended lecture Aproximación al Workout [Approach to Workout] closed the event.
After the closure of the second urban trends festival that was attended by over thirty thousand people, the third Mulafest event needed more energy to ensure it continued to grow, and so it decided to ‘feed’ the city, both emotionally and literally. Graffiti featured again in the artistic section: for the first time in Spain the SprayXpress Battles, or battles of graffiti writers, were organised, along with forms of urban art, thanks to the return of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, workshops given by 100×100 Madriz and La Family School, and the collaborative project Wallpeople. The areas dedicated to motors and tattoos were confirmed as the true green area of ‘the city,’ and La Isla filled the outer area of the fairground with sand and urban sports. But it was BMX, Mmake, el Recycling and above all StreetFood that provided food and feedback.
In the BMX area, thanks to the Bikepark La Traba group—a reference in Spain of this urban discipline, the third urban trends festival welcomed the spectacular bike park that was also known as ‘Mega-Structure.’ The installation was carried out by professionals and bike lovers, and its construction lasted the four days it took the for the Mulafest city to be built. Inspired by the classical skate parks that first appeared in the States, and preserving the pure street essence, it was over two and a half metres high and allowed bikers competing in the sections of ramp and street to reach up to five metres. Obstacles were also installed for bikers to express balance through flatland.
Even though dance has been a constant feature at the Mulafest events, and one worth mentioning, at the third urban trends festival one style prevailed above all others, by day and night, against the unparalleled backdrop of La Isla: break-dance. For the first time, our ‘city under construction’ organised its own National B-boying Championship, that welcomed thirty-two crews from all over Spain. Participants in the ‘3 vs 3’ section disputed the prize for the best group in direct rounds. The jury was composed of celebrated figures like Zomas—Fusion Rockers/MKF, Teser—Arcopom Crew, and Wizar—Vinotinto Crew.
The third urban trends festival didn’t neglect film, but programmed all sorts of exterior and interior projections. On this occasion, however, we decided that our ‘city’ needed its own cinema. As a result, a theatre with a capacity for over two hundred people offered three programmes, all of which had a duration of six and a half hours, thanks to the collaboration of the Festival de Cine Solidario de Guadalajara, the Sapnish General Society of Authors—SGAE for its Spanish initials, that programmed its SGAE en corto, and of Versión Española—that screened the works by the finalists of its last short-film competition. The fact is that film is always able to tell good stories, even if they are short.
The third urban trends festival welcomed the circus, as all cities like Mulafest take pride in hosting an event as auspicious and amazing as the circus. In our eagerness to discover new audiences and guarantee children’s smiles, for the first time we included the most contemporary circus show in our programme. Throughout the four days, residents and non-residents could contemplate the acrobatics and juggling acts of the Circo Diverso School, founded in 2007 by the Tres Cantos Youth Association to meet their district’s cultural needs. The circus members also offered workshops for both professionals and amateurs.
The second urban trends festival revealed that technological evolution and digital manufacturing are changing. This led us to broaden the space dedicated to Mmake, structured by Los Hacedores, where a selection of the different agents on the Spanish maker scene offered onlookers and professionals alike the possibility of taking part. Projects such as Clone Wars were presented by the RepRap movement and its army of replicant printer, and Familiar, which offered demonstrations and robotic workshops. Thanks in part to the collaboration of platforms like Tr3sdelandia, Crowd Design, León 3D, Printed Dreams and Moebyus Machines, success was guaranteed.
Since its conception, the residents of the great city under construction, the Mulafest venue, had been committed to environmental protection, and so they proclaimed at the third event, placing emphasis on recycling. La Nave Nodriza, in collaboration with the Eco-Raee’s Foundation, produced a huge banner out of electronic residues that bore a single message, that of the three Rs: ‘Reduce,’ ‘Reuse,’ ‘Recycle.’ Re-Scape, the large installation by Sofía Blanco-Santos and Carlos Maciá made on occasion of the announcement of the ιδArteRecicla art and recycling competition, created a space for recreation and rest that even included a cinema. To crown it all, and in consistency with this message, the signage made of recycled cardboard and printed in ecological ink.
Slack-line brought vertigo to the best possible setting—La Isla. This urban trend had been warmly welcomed at the second Mulafest event, so this year we had to find a venue for it and consolidate its presence within the Mula community. The discipline was promoted by a demonstration that would count towards scores in the World Slackline Championship, welcoming practitioners from Spain and abroad. Mulafest thereby became a new meeting point. The event was accompanied by Highline displays on ropes that hung at a height of 15 metres, and workshops for beginners.
One of the most important novelties of this third urban trends festival was the area devoted to street food: for the first time at Mulafest and indeed in Madrid itself, a gathering was held to enjoy the food that can be tasted on the streets. The latest trends in cuisine from around the world came together to feed ‘the city,’ in the company of very special guests: La Vírgen, with their list of traditional beers, left its food truck behind and instead served hot dogs and sandwiches—one of them made by Estanislao Carenzo, chef of Chifa and Sudestada restaurants. San Wich brought genuine Chilean empanadas and sandwiches that could also be savoured by vegetarians. The Burger Lab focused on dishes based on less common meats. Mao Sushi, along with chefs Juan Alcaide and Mario Payán, provided the Oriental offer with their maki and nigri. Table talk was enlivened at Toma Café, a place in the heart of Malasaña that has suddenly become a must for coffee lovers and all those who appreciate unique corners and traditional desserts made with love.