What it’s like being an all-girl punk band in conservative Spain

Up until the year 1975 Spain was ruled by Fascist dictator, Franco. This transition period that soon followed was coined as La Movida in Madrid, and it resembled the British new wave with its outrageous aesthetic that made you think of the New Romantics in the U.K. This was a time of freedom, rebellion, and most of all, loads of punk rock! Meanwhile La Movida was happening in Madrid, the Basques started their own thing, and it was more hardcore than the stuff they were doing in Madrid.

Within the arrival of punk as a definitive form of expression for the youth, we had the first all-girl punk bands emerging. Of course, you were already bound to get into trouble as a punk, because Spain still had a conservative mentality and continued to mourn Franco’s death. Bands like Eskorbuto, La Polla Records, and Cicatriz grew in popularity. Eskorbuto were certainly one of the most controversial, as they sang songs such as the legendary ‘Ya no quedan más cojones, Eskorbuto a las elecciones’, which translates to, ‘there’s no more balls, Eskorbuto to the elections’ (a very rough translation). That song literally criticised the Spanish government and how it has no balls, stating that Eskorbuto should run for president instead, because they’d make some changes for sure. Despite its sexist connotations (one of the lyrics in the song basically says that he’d like to find a female cop and “fuck” her all the time- using it as a metaphor to go against the hand of authority, but in my opinion it’s an unnecessary metaphor), it’s a brilliant song, but there was a lot of political trouble that soon followed the band due to this song and a couple of other ones. With these dominating male punk bands that were getting crowds super hyped up and ready for anarchy, it was a tough panorama if you were an all-girl punk band.

In the summer of 1982 Las Vulpess formed, and they were bound to shock Spain out of its misogyny and conservative politics. Hailing from Barakaldo in the Basque Country, they roared onto the TV programme Caja De Ritmos with their ‘Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra’ (Which translates to: I like to be a bitch/whore/slut). The song was a cover of The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, and they pulled it off spectacularly. As you would expect, there was a huge uproar following their performance, which actually lead to a court case. Their short but sweet career really made a jolt of a start since then. They released ‘Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra’ straight after that scandal. In the documentary Rock Radikal Vasco: La Gran Martxa de Los 80 one of the girls from Las Vulpess recalls their experience in gigs and touring. She recalls how people used to call them ‘whores’, ‘bitches’,’sluts’, and even spit at them. It got to the point where they couldn’t bring their partners to their gigs because they couldn’t stand seeing them being treated in that manner and lack of respect. Some would say they were asking for it by releasing such ‘outrageous’ songs, but I think they weren’t asking for it, they were just expressing themselves as young women, and as human beings. They had the ‘cojones’ to actually tell everyone what they really thought, and I find that aspect most inspiring. If it weren’t for girl bands such as Las Vulpess (who in hindsight remind me a bit of L7, another band I completely worship) I think I’d still be in my shell and continue being that shy girl I used to be when I was younger. I’m glad I discovered these Riot Grrrls, and I’m happy to be one too.

Here is the ‘outrageous’ performance from 1983.

Sadly they only have one album out there, but it’s a memorable one for sure. Their fierce approach to the lyrics is something that is worth admiring, even to this day, they were really ahead of their time, and extremely underrated.

Have a listen to the whole album over here:

 

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