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Lucha (nightclub)

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Lucha is a Tarrasean nightclub and music venue that was originally opened in 1933 by Livio Barrientos in the city's Zona Roja neighborhood, on Calle Cicatrices (map). The club has passed through several incarnations, at first having been a simple workers' "taberna" in the Tarrasean tradition but later including, at different times, a casino, a jazz bar, a labor union and political meetinghouse, and several further different styles of bar. Since the 1980's it has been the unquestioned premier rock, progressive and experimental music venue in the Duchy, and one of the city state's most well-known cultural institutions.

One storefront next to Lucha evolved to become the "Estudios Lucha", which despite its name was mostly a record shop and art gallery. In the late 1980s, "Estudios Lucha" was expanded to include a smaller venue where by musical artists of very diverse sounds is performed, ranging from traditional Mahhalian music styles, modernist classical and international acoustic and folk, to jazz and experimental music styles.

The venue has been associated with a substantial number of famous events and personalities through the last 80 years of Tarrasean history. In 2005, Lucha was formally added to the Registro de lugares históricos (Registry of Historic Places) for the Ducado de Tárrases.


Founding as Workers' "Taberna"

The workers' "Taberna" had been a fixture of the Tarrasean cultural landscape from at least the 1840's. Livio Barrientos had come to the city from the down-island village of Los Ecos where his parents ran a small taberna. He wanted to try his luck in a more urban setting, and so he started the club in the Zona Roja neighborhood. At first there was no music venue, it was just a bar and restaurant. It was reasonably successful but not particularly notable.

Jazz Club and Casino

Barrientos was also interested in music, however, especially the new styles infiltrating from the outer world, such as jazz. He decided to put a stage at the side of his main dining area and allow jazz performers local and international to perform. This proved to be such a popular decision that within a year he'd taken over a neighboring building to expand, and had installed a casino in one of the anterooms (as was in the vogue in popular social venues of all kinds at the time). The casino was short-lived, but the transformation of the club into a musical venue was permanent.

Labor Unionhall and Political Meetinghouse

Throughout the 1930's and 1940's, the club was almost better known as a meeting place for labor and political activists than it was for its music. Notably, in 1937 the modern Partido Obrero Social (POS) took its modern form at the club under the leadership of Heródoto Rezanaper, and the club was, de facto, the party's first headquarters.

December 8th, 1944

The club's popularity as a political meeting place included its use by several Tarrasean separatist groups. Although the Tarrasean government tended to ignore these groups' activity, the Mahhalians were much less forgiving. During an organizational meeting between two separatist groups at the club on December 8th, 1944, a Mahhalian government mole was discovered. When he was confronted, he somehow managed to notify other Mahhalian agents active in the Duchy that he'd been discovered.

The agents came to the club, and under cover of a jazz performance by the noted trumpeter Alberto Gonzales Gonzales, began to murder the activists at the club with knives. The club exploded in violence as the separatists attempted to defend themselves with guns, and by the end of the night, 66 people had died and more than one hundred were wounded, including Gonzales Gonzales. The whole thing was swept under the carpet by both the Tarrasean and Mahhalian governments, but the events were etched on the popular imagination under the rubric "La Lucha en Lucha." Most Tarraseans simply refer to it, even now, as "December 8th." It remains the single largest event of violence associated with Tarrasean separatism.

Rock Comes to Tárrases

During a decade of obscurity in the wake of the 1944 disaster, the club nearly went bankrupt, as local rumors of the club being haunted by vindictive ghosts prevented the frequently superstitious Tarraseans from attending the club. In 1957, the club's owner at that time, Damián Barrientos, entered a kind of limited bankruptcy to save the club.

However, the emerging musical styles of Rock and Blues travelled to Tárrases in the 1960's and Lucha was one of the first clubs in the city state to provide a venue for both international acts and local imitators. By the end of that decade, it was once again at the center of Tarrasean culture.

"Consulate" for Jeres

Despite the 1944 events, the club also remained a popular informal meeting place for various political groups. During the famous period of the Jeres Collective in Mahhal (1969-1973), the club was transformed by radical sympathetic groups in Tárrases into a kind of unofficial "consulate" for the Collective, which, due to the latter's lack of international recognition, became a focal point for various diplomatic negotiations. Notably, several international leaders on a visit to Tárrases in 1972 visited the club to meet with several leaders of the Collective who had travelled to Tárrases surreptitiously.

When the Collective fell in 1973, there was a "Concierto de luto" ("concert of mourning") held at the club, including several famous Mahhalian folk performers who lived in Tarrasean exile. The concert was problematic when it was revealed that several dozen Mahhalian secret agents had attended, and many in the press felt that a repeat of the 1944 events had been averted only by the agents' incompetence.

Dreamwave and Ghosthouse

From the 1970's to the 2000's, several musical and cultural movements associated with Tárrases first emerged at the club.

Dreamwave, a dance style associated with the the emerging global drug culture of the 1970's (an era when Tárrases' permissive drug regime was globally quite uncommon) brought a great deal of international attention and alarmist criticism.

Later, in the 1990's, the harder and less international "South Seas Ghosthouse" sound was developed by several famous acts associated with the club, mixing Archantan rhythms, electrically amped traditional Mahhalian instrumentals, and politically and socially radical "rap" vocals. The name "ghosthouse" is a reference to the long-standing reputation of the club as a "haunted" locale (from the 1944 massacre).

Fnord-Carapreta Liaison

In 1998, Cleopatra Carapreta (who since 2007 is the current reigning duchess of Tárrases, Duquesa Cleopatra II), was in the habit of attending the club "incognito" (under the pseudonym Rocío Montoya). In the same period, a socialite scion of the wealthy Rhododactylian Fnord family (which has long enjoyed strong business roots in Tárrases), Fnoogas Yamauchi-Fnord, was also in the habit of attending the club "incognito" (under various pseudonyms). A journalist working for the TV tabloid Tárrases Hoy, Lizabeta Moro, managed to capture the two women in obvious romantic liaison at the club on repeated occasions.

Rather then deny the story, both women acknowledged the relationship and the conservative elements in the Tarrasean press were unable to transform the unconventional relationship (Yamauchi-Fnord being Carapreta's senior by 10 years, not to mention the only just emerging acceptance of same-sex relationships in Tarrasean society) into a major scandal. Notably, Carapreta's father and the Duke at that time, Duque José III, said only, "pués ella es capaz de vivir su propia vida como quisiese" ("well, she is able to live her life as she wishes"). To this day, the two women remain, quite publicly, "more than friends", although they have never formally married.

There was some controversy when the two women posed together for a series of publicity posters for the club's 75th anniversary party in 2008, under the headline "Nuestra Lucha" (a play on the name of the club and reference to the 1998 events). The main objection had been not the display of the relationship but the by then reigning duchess's participation in a private business's publicity stunt. The issue was mostly resolved to the public's satisfaction then the club transformed the party into a charity event benefiting the Hospital Zozete de Tárrases.

Current Configuration and Ownership

Lucha currently occupies three contiguous buildings on Calle Cicatrices in Zona Roja. The center building is the original club, and to the north is secondary venue and record shop "Estudios Lucha". The building to the south has been converted to business offices and a small "Museo de Lucha" and lucrative gift shop.

The club continues to be owned and operated by the 3rd generation of the Barrientos family, who have risen to fairly high status in the Duchy due to the popularity of their club. Currently the head of the family and chief proprietor of the club is Bertila Barrientos-Alussain.

See Also