It seemed like a typical summer musical show, thought especially of those who were passing through Reñaca. The poster had the shows of a promising local female group, Mamma Soul; Velvety Colombians; and the main course of the night from Argentina, The Fabulous Cadillacs.
They were two Latin American groups with weight. Aterciopelados had been playing a lot on national radio stations with a catchy and playful single, fallacious bolero, from their second album The Golden (nineteen ninety five). Meanwhile, the Cadillacs thing was crazy. From the compilation album Empty glasses (1993), His popularity skyrocketed, especially after the seminal success of Bullfighter, that sounded matinee, vermouth and night. In addition, in 1995, they had released a new studio album, the fundamental king sugarwhich included another hit like Stinker (featuring former Clash member Mick Jones).
By then, the Cadillacs already accumulated some presentations in the country. The first was a 1988 television appearance on the show always monday, interviewed by Antonio Vodanovic and performing with playback.
Others followed, such as on July 1, 1994, at the Teatro Monumental. That was followed by three more. Thus came January 30, 1996. The place chosen was the dunes of Montemar de Reñaca and it would be a free show for the public who spent the summer in those days. Nearly 30,000 effervescent people arrived at the place, according to later estimates. “On” with all kinds of stimuli.
And the problem was precisely that effervescence. And that was demonstrated even before a single chord was sounded. “We were assholes, no one had a car yet. So, to get to the place we took a bus. They were full of assholes screaming, hitting the ceiling, drinking boxed wine, pisco. It was the egg of the century”, recalled the youtuber Mister Roka in a video.
The stage was at the bottom of the dunes, which forced the spectators to do the double exercise of going up first, and going down later. This was making the panorama more difficult. “I don’t know who came up with that brilliant idea of making a stage with a wall of dunes and people on top of it. Everything started badly with that idea”, recalls Mister Roka.
“The audience was a diverse, impatient, hard-to-manage and somewhat aggressive crowd, which botched and made the show of the bands that opened and even that of the Fabulosos themselves very difficult,” recalls Cristóbal González Lorca in his book A step forward. A chronology of ska in Chile (Santiago-Ander, 2022). González had a lot to do with the scene, since he was the vocalist of a national ska band that was taking its first steps at that time: Santo Barrio.
Mister Roka went with a friend to the recital and they were located in the middle of the crowd, in the lower part. That was when the first excesses began. “Suddenly, the people who were in the back, higher up, started throwing things at those who were lower down. And the people below threw things at those behind. Nothing came to us because we were in the middle”.
And everything began to heat up, since people started throwing bottles. “I saw beer bottles, pisco passing over my head. Without exaggeration, I saw how the bottles fell on people’s heads. The issue began to get serious ”, recalls Mister Roka.
And so serious, that the bottle war extended to the stage. “Some people, in the midst of the madness, threw objects onto the stage such as cans and even a jug,” adds González. The atmosphere was heated, and despite the optimistic songs from the trans-Andean people, the tension refused to cool down. Summer, alcohol and the desire to disband did their thing.
One of the bottles ended up directly impacting the vocalist Vicentico. There, the presentation had to be cancelled. “I remember once we played with the Cadillacs in Reñaca and that was terrible, because it became a very strange pod. Because it was in the dunes and people first started fighting in the sand and ended up with stones, it was ‘very scary’, terrible. I think the guitarist of the Cadillacs was hit with a stone,” the singer of Aterciopelados, Andrea Echeverri, recalled years later to Las Últimas Noticias.
Vicentico also remembered it years later, in 2017, with El Desconcierto. “I remember that moment very fondly, really. The mess that broke out was impressive, but I also realized that we are alive, that people react that way for a reason. It was shocking, I have rarely seen anything like it in my life”.
Of course, the suspension of the Cadillacs show -halfway- exacerbated the spirits. “What came next was a shower of bottles hitting the stage and immediate police repression,” adds González Lorca. “The Cadillacs left, they turned off the stage lights, and there was the shit [sic]. Everyone was saying ‘calm down’ but people kept throwing things. Then, the people began to pull away, it was still dangerous if there were 30,000 people in the dunes crushing each other, going to lead. There I smelled tear gas”; remember Mister Roka.
A picket from the then Carabineros Special Forces was present at the scene, ready to control the situation. “They began to run sticks for people to leave, and the crowd dissolved… there were people screaming, people bleeding,” adds Mister Roka.
The balance of the day was 52 detainees and 19 wounded. For their part, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs returned to the country the following year, on August 1, 1997, when they performed at the Teatro Monumental. Today, the group will play at the Movistar Arena.