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This page is about a neighbourhood in Madrid.

Nights in Malasaña are often crowded

Malasaña is an area of Madrid famous for its trendy alternative scene. Centred around Plaza de Dos de Mayo, it is reminiscent of Camden Town in London, the East Village in New York City, or Bairro Alto in Lisbon, however despite its similarities, Malasaña is a distinct neighbourhood.

Malasaña is to the west of Chueca and to the east of Argüelles. It is surrounded by several metro stations and is a central neighbourhood of Madrid. Well known residents include the Govenor of the Province of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre amongst other politicians and several famous artists. It is common to see well known Spaniards, artists, actors and musicians openly eating and going out during the day and night.

It was the center of the movida movement in late 1970s and 1980s Madrid.

Malasaña is a vibrant neighborhood full of lively bars and clubs overflowing with young people. Its streets are currently being renovated, making it a much more attractive quarter. It's one of the classic areas for partying the night away. The area's center is the Plaza del Dos de Mayo (in commemoration of a popular uprising on May 2, 1808, brutally repressed by the French troops and which started the Spanish Independence War). This plaza hosts a large festival on the same day. Botellons (a meeting of people drinking openly on the street, often before going to bars or discos) are common in this neighbourhood. Large ones were held in Plaza de dos de Mayo before the police stopped the nightly practice after a festival turned awry in 2006. Botellon´s involving up to 200 people happen and the plaza where it occurs changes depending on how the police crack down on them.

The night life is diverse in Malasaña, though the most common themes are non-pretentious style places (alternative, funk, mainstream), mixed places (including many conspicuouse LGBT) which forms an alternative gay scene of its own) and colourful or bohemian cafes. Unique and rather non-conspicuous locations include one or two bars for hard rock and metal, house, nudists, BDSM, gothic, Latin, classic, 80´s, hip-hop and other non mainstream genres. The attitude of the nightlife, as opposed to the neighbours of Chueca or nearby La Latina is relaxed, unpretentious and friendly.

Commercially, Malasaña has many fashion boutiques as well as shops for design and niche market products. They are often cutting edge shops or feature progressive designers and products. They are often economical and rarely mainstream. There are many second hand vintage shops, used book stores and unique gift shops. Calle Espiritu Santo alone represents the melange of Malasaña by having on one full block alone, a retro shop, butchers with uncommon meats, a fancy pastry shop, two vintage shops, a small florist, vegetable shop, 5 bars, 3 bohemian cafes, a retro food shop, 2 ethnic restaurants, 2 mid range restaurants and a couple more traditional bars along with 2 hiphop clothing shops.

The arquitecture in Malasaña is rather uniform with most buildings ranging from 4 to 6 levels, 3 to 5 windows wide, each building painted a uniform colour, almost all windows with french balconies and rare ornamentation. Rents are high for small space and some buildings are very exclusive.

Malasaña is known throughout Spain by cultural references and as a place for people with alternative tastes, fashion and scene. It is mentioned in a song by Manu Chao and scenes by films by Almadovar.

Parts of the neighbourhood closer to Gran Via are frequented by the solo aspect of night life including sex clubs, sex shops and street activity. Surprisingly drugs are rarely sold openly on the street. It is common for foreign women and men to sell illegally cold beer openly all over the neighbourhood.

Although popularly known as barrio Malasaña, it is known by residents as Maravillas (Wonders), although its official name is Universidad (University). Malasaña is named after a 15-year old girl Manuela Malasaña who once lived on San Andrés street. She was executed by the French following the uprising in 1808. Today there is a street named in her honour very close to the roundabout Glorieta de Bilbao.

One of the most famous night life venues in the area is La Vía Láctea (The Milky Way). Other classic clubs are Penta, Nueva Visión and La Vaca Austera, El Barco. Templo de Susu is a high end retro clothing shop. Very bohemian cafes include La Paca, La Ida and Lolina. An American book shop and bar sits near the Noviciado metro station.

It is unclear if Malasaña will maintain its alternative and hip atmosphere or if it will become more commercial and upmarket.



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