Entrepreneurs Magazine

Le Rachdingue – 50 years since the birth of the surrealist club

(c)Le Rachdingue

When Cadaqués-based author and playwright Henri-François Rey wrote Le Rachdingue in 1967 he could never have imagined that his title would become associated with nights of wild parties for more than a generation. Le Rachdingue was an invented word which translates into “a force of madness”, undoubtedly a fitting name for a surrealist nightclub backed by Salvador Dalí, one of the writer’s close friends. It was in 1968, 50 years ago, when this prestigious club opened its doors in Vilajuïga. And that wasn’t all that happened in 1968: that was the year of the famous May ‘68 student revolts, the assassination of  Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Rolling Stones’ release of “Sympathy for the Devil”, the American withdrawal from Vietnam and the hippy invasion of Ibiza. These were events that were tough to digest, especially for a mindset desperately and unsuccessfully trying to keep control of it all.
It was with this backdrop, in a small village between Roses and Figueres, that an old country house, its tower in ruins, was transformed into the Costa Brava’s most avant-garde  nightclub. A place that played host to world famous clients like Mick Jagger, Miguel Bosé, Amanda Lear, Ringo Starr, Étienne Daho, Kraftwerk, the German singer Nico and, of course, the Empordanese genius himself Salvador Dalí,  who inaugurated the venue in the summer of ‘68, putting his name to its walls.
The person responsible for organising it all was sculptor and painter Miette, an intimate friend of Dalí’s, who,  together with her husband, Pierre Bessière, brought together their artistic and intellectual talents to create an extraordinary nightclub. They gave Le Rachdingue its surrealist touch, a guarantee that this revolutionary Factory would leave a lasting impression on all who entered. This wasn’t any old nightclub.
In the early days, it was a kind of private club that Dalí and Miette invited their friends to talk about art and music,
but it soon become an international landmark and compulsory stopover for the rich and famous on their way to Ibiza.
Its privileged location, overlooking the Bay of Roses and the Alt Emporda, meant that revellers would party until the sun appeared on the horizon, along with the stunning surrounding countryside, which had, until then, been eclipsed by the energy of the night, the music and the outlandish interior decor of Dalí and Miette (including washing  machines, collage and surrealist paintings).
After Miette’s death, her son Mathieu kept the place alive for several decades, turning it into a Mecca for the electronic music underground, where crowds would be entertained by internationally renowned DJs, such as Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin, Romanthony from Daft Punk, Oscar Mulero, Carl Craig and almost all the pioneers of today’s electronic music scene. It rode on the boom of house music, an era equally as exciting as the one that bore witness to Rock or New Wave. Young people bursting with good vibes came from all regions and countries -Paris, London, Berlin, Barcelona or even the US- to dance on its  terraces until sunrise, the magical nights living on in the memories of many a partygoer.
Now, 50 years after the opening of Le Rachdingue,  several nights of celebrations are being organised in honour of this temple of hedonism, while the venue prepares for a transformation in which allnight entertainment and events will take a backseat, to make way for a transition.
Today’s nightlife is different. But a place like this is always worthy of the latest trends and fashions,  which are guaranteed to surprise us all. There will never be anywhere like Le Rachdingue!