Home » Dancing in the desert, review of the novel by Juan Arnau (2023)

Dancing in the desert, review of the novel by Juan Arnau (2023)

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Dancing in the desert, review of the novel by Juan Arnau (2023)

Transforming the story of the family saga that founded the Los Monegros festival into a novel for all audiences was a challenge. Now it is an achievement. Because Juan Arnau (Fraga, 1956) has turned it into an exciting story, which is (in turn) the reflection of part of the Spanish society of the last century and a half. Five generations, no less, of which he is part of the last, the one that set up the Florida 135 nightclub and one of the most massive raves in Europe, in the middle of the Aragonese desert, and which today continues to be a festival for several dozen of thousands of people.

One only has to look at the cover of this book to realize that it is not aimed precisely at the clubber public, far from it, but at the generalist. And he has everything to get to him. A clear language, a succession of very well-stitched generational endeavors and an in-depth reflection on what it means to prosper business from a town that is not even the capital of the province, somewhere between Madrid and Barcelona, ​​standing up to taboos and conventions. of each era through something as apparently simple (and at the same time complicated) such as making others dance and dream.

Casinos, cinemas and dance halls that were owned by the Satorres, the Durán and the Arnau, pioneers in the entertainment industry from the peasant Fraga (Huesca). Bailar en el desierto (2023) reveals historical data with an undeniable hook (Xavier Cugat’s unprecedented performance in 1962, just a few hours after the death of the person who hired him, is a turning point), but also a meticulous fictionalized construction – because it is a way of transcending the limits of the essay – of characters that really existed, against the backdrop of republics, wars, exiles, dictatorships, the return to democracy and homologation with the rest of Europe. It is read in a breath.

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