Remembering Victor Jara at the Galpon

When visiting a new country or city the goal of every tourist is to find that “authentic” spot. We crave a taste for something new and different from our travels so that when we return to our normal lives we have some stories to tell. In Santiago, one place not to miss is the Galpon Victor Jara, probably the city's most important alternative music venue.

Another night at the Galpon (photo by Marianne Fuentealba)
Another night at the Galpon (photo by Marianne Fuentealba)

The Galpon is set on Húerfanos overlooking the Plaza Brasil in the heart of Barrio Brasil, its door almost indistinguishable from the elaborate mural covering the entire building. During the day the plaza is alive with children playing on jungle gyms at the center and people moving through the busy barrio. But with the arrival of the weekend the square is transformed. The playground is empty but a horde of people gather outside the mural, waiting in line to buy their ticket to the Galpon.

Galpon Victor Jara is a transformed warehouse space that showcases a collection of indie bands and artists from genres such as reggae, ska, cumbia and Chilean folk music. The club is dark except for the multicolored lights of red, green, and yellow that shine on thick black curtains that hide the set from crowd view. The crowd is turbulent as people cheer and whistle, eagerly anticipating the start of the show. In the front of the venue the crowd jumps and shouts as a single mass; all sense of personal space forgotten. Towards the back they lean against walls painted in bright colors and patterns, taking a break from the intense heat.

Beyond providing the space for a good time, this club also carries a cultural significance for Santiago. The theatre is owned and administered by the Victor Jara Foundation, a non-profit, cultural organization that seeks to promote the work of Chilean musical icon, Victor Jara.

Mural of Victor Jara (photo by Marianne Fuentealba)
Mural of Victor Jara (photo by Marianne Fuentealba)

Victor Jara was a Chilean singer, theatre director, and political activist. During the 1960s Jara was instrumental in creating the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) that incorporated a revival of Chilean folk music mixed with a strong political message. Sadly the legacy of this great man was cut short during the military coup of 1973. Jara was arrested, tortured and murdered on September 16, 1973. His memory has been immortalized across the globe by singers and artists of every nationality.

“As long as we sing his songs, as long as his courage can inspire us to greater courage, Victor Jara will never die” – Pete Seeger.

It has therefore become the goal of the Victor Jara Foundation to support Chilean music in every form and the Galpon theatre embodies this spirit in it's acceptance of every genre and style.

You can learn more about the Galpon Victor Jara's upcoming shows at http://afichesdecarretes.wordpress.com/category/galpon-victor-jara/ and be sure to like them on Facebook.

Galpon Victor Jara
Huérfanos 2146 (Plaza Brasil)
Metro Republica (Line 1) or Cumming (Line 5)

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