The paral·lel the Montmatre catalán

One of the most famous avenues of Barcelona is the Paral·lel, which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary. For that reason, the city is now plenty of stories about Paral·lel and it is always interesting to know how was the start of big cities. So, if you are interested in Barcelona’s history, keep reading because I am going to give you some hints about Paral·lel and Barcelona old lifestyle.

Joan Gaspar, El Paral•lel, 1920-1930, Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona

Joan Gaspar, El Paral•lel, 1920-1930, Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona

The variety shows and the new perception of sex

The Paral·lel is a key cultural phenomenon in the contemporary history of Catalonia. During the early decades of the 20th Century the avenue presented the world’s largest concentration of show venues, because of an urban contradictory provisions. The result of it was the creation of an entertainment zone for the crowd, perfectly comparable to those in other European conurbations of the time, but it soon became a genuine cultural expression of social and political conflict that characterized the Barcelona of the time.

The avenue shaped new theatrical expressions: The representation of the lifestyle of the most popular areas of the city and the arrival of foreign popular theatrical genres thanks to the demand of new audiences. The vaudeville came to theatres in the centre of Barcelona in the last 30 years of the 19th century and the audience of the Paral·lel laughed at the hypocrisy of wealthy classes, which had such different values to their own.

Blanca Negri, Centre de Documentació i Museu de les Arts Escèniques. Institut del Teatre.

Blanca Negri, Centre de Documentació i Museu de les Arts Escèniques. Institut del Teatre.

Alexandre Merletti Guaglia, L’actor Josep Sempere durant una representació teatral, 1920, Col. Merletti / Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya

Alexandre Merletti Guaglia, L’actor Josep Sempere durant una representació teatral, 1920, Col. Merletti / Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moreover, the avenue becomes the manifestation of a change in the social perception of sex, a change that would affect the Catalan society. The prostitution was everywhere and by that time women had places to practise it and also all of them had a health card to prove that they were healthy and clean. With this world coming up, the Paral·lel started to build new cafes, bars and theatres. This life began to be more and more well liked. The newspaper published adverts from entertainment houses and allow the prostitutes to have their own section.

However, this was not the only changed. As I said, the theaters and the new variety shows were very popular and girls wanted to learn how to dance, act and sing. Suddenly, the Paral·lel was plenty of dancing studios that teach the young girls how to be a theatre start. One of the most famous artists was Raquel Meller (1888-1962), an international actress that was known for the song “La Violetera”.

It is quite interesting how much life can have a simple street and the way that everything that happens there influence people to changes their behaviors and build a bridge to a new lifestyle. To come and visit this year the city of Barcelona is the perfect way to come back to those days when the Paral·lel was the “Montmartre’s catalan”.

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