Resident Advisor

Elrow: A nightlife dynasty

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The eye-popping production at Elrow events has helped it become arguably the world’s most popular clubbing brand. But, as Carlos Hawthorn explains, this is only the most recent venture for a family whose roots in entertainment date back to 1870.

 

Sant Just Desvern, a small satellite town on the southwestern outskirts of Barcelona, is a place of industry. Huge warehouses with corrugated roofs line the leafy streets. Most are owned by companies producing perfume, machinery or electrical equipment, with one notable exception. La Nave, or “The Ship,” is a vast blue building with high, panelled ceilings, split down the middle into two spaces. When I visited on a scorching day in June, the first was overflowing with hundreds of giant toys and party props, stuffed onto rows of towering shelves. The range of paraphernalia was mind-boggling, from oversized sheriff hats and discarded chicken feet to foam Funktion-Ones and yellow taxis with eyes for wheels.

The second space was larger, brighter and more ordered. Toiling among dismantled purple octopuses and huge genie lamps were a dozen or so technicians, painters and carpenters, each of them mending or building part of a stage set. Tucked away to the right, a man operated a machine for carving wood into intricate designs. Through a door was a costume department, with rails heaving with colourful fancy dress. Upstairs, a woman grappled with a coiled plastic snake in a smaller workshop, which connected to La Nave‘s control room, the office of Italian-born clown and circus performer Nico Grazioso. Taped to the wall was a scruffy poster of Charlie Chaplin in full WWI garb.

La Nave is the central warehouse of Elrow, the Barcelona-based clubbing brand whose unique and theatrical approach to events is currently taking the world by storm. Launched in 2010, it’s arguably the most popular party on the global circuit right now. It merges theatre, dance, puppetry and club music to create larger-than-life atmospheres that are wild, silly and extremely colourful. What started as a weekly party in Barcelona is now a global enterprise: in 2017, Elrow will host 132 events in more than 25 countries, reaching an estimated audience of 1.7 million people.

“It’s the best clubbing experience you can get, hands down,” said Rag Satguru, Elrow’s UK partner. “Somewhere between Cream, Cirque Du Soleil, Sensation White and Manumission. They’re the references.”

The name of the company behind Elrow is Elrow Family, which isn’t just another example of the dance music cliché. Elrow’s two directors, Juan Arnau Lasierra (AKA Juanito) and Cruz Arnau Lasierra (AKA Cruz), are brother and sister—his official title is CEO, she’s head of marketing and sponsorship. They’re the sixth generation in their family to work in the entertainment industry, the latest in a long line of bar, ballroom and nightclub owners that stretches back to the 19th century. It’s a legacy the family are proud of—on the website, beneath the Elrow Family logo, sits the company tagline: “Entertainers Since 1870.” 

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