When one of my favourite human beings asked me to go away on holiday with her for her 30th, I said yes without even thinking about it, sent her the money and left her in charge. At no point did any of us realise what we had signed up to. Turns out at the start of February there is a big rockabilly festival in Torremolinos called Rockin Race Jamboree, and that was just a half hour walk from Benalmadena, the small Spanish town Amy had decided she’d like to visit. Unsurprisingly I had done some vintage searching online for Malaga (as you will have noticed, I don’t go anywhere these days without a few vintage destinations to discover!), but weirdly enough the festival didn’t pop up despite my hardcore research. Thank goodness for a chance discovery of a little biker bar called Road House, and a beautiful yet feisty Bridget Nelson look-a-like server who took one look at us and told us all about it!
Rockin’ Race is a 4 day festival that takes over the La Barracuda Hotel, where people from all over Europe spend the day lounging round the pool dressed to the nines in their awe-inspiring rockabilly and vintage get up. With a parking lot out front full of retro cars, it really is like stepping back in time and stepping right into Cry Baby; Wanda Woodward eat your heart out! There’s food, cheap beer and pints of sangria available to guests and a whole day of live music to listen / dance to, right out in the sunshine and beside the glorious (but freezing!) pool. As this hotel is right on the promenade, there is also a slew of restaurants and bars just outside the gates meaning you can even listen from beside the beach should you decide to venture off premisses. In a nutshell, I was in heaven. The last time I was in a vintage bubble this great, I was at the first ever Hemingway Vintage Festival in Goodwood, which although totally worth checking out has never quite reached the same heady heights as their first event. (Sorry guys!)
In the evening everyone jumps into taxis and heads over to the Auditorium Principe de Asturias, about a £6 journey from the hotel, where top bands headline the stage and you can dance the night away until the wee small hours. Theres some totally amazing vintage pop up stalls inside, as well as home, accessories and vinyl record stands to spend all your money at too. I say that because I pretty much emptied my bank account purchasing the most beautiful hand painted 1950s dress and a handmade 1950s jumpsuit with an embroidered parrot on the bust, who quickly got named Pablo Escobar because he’s so bad ass it hurts. Worth the money? Hell yes!! Needless to say I had a mid-evening outfit change because he was too good to be left in the bag all night. Drinks aren’t very cheap in the venue, but who wants to drink when you’re having so much fun! We danced to some truily epic bands and I quickly became a fan of Smokestack Lightnin and The Cactus Blossoms. This is a great way to expand your music tastes even if you don’t know much about the bands – everyone here is just up for a good time, no judgements allowed.
Whilst we only attended the festival for the day (because we found out so late on), this is definitely worth heading to if you’re mulling over what to do to chase away the winter blues; its cheap and easy to get to (especially from Edinburgh where you can fly straight to Benalmadena!), and as it’s out of season, your whole trip will be more than reasonably affordable. Had we known about the event, we would have booked into the hotel 100% because it really was like stepping into a time capsule. Make sure to pack some excellent rockabilly clothes, even if that is just a cute shirt, a pair of high waisted denim jeans and a headscarf to match – you don’t have to spend big to fit in with this crowd. In Spain at this time of year, the pool is still a little too cold for a swim, but the sun is still gloriously bright and warm – we even got accidentally sunburnt on the day we arrived! Beware that the rest of the town is on out-of-season hours, so although you’re fine during the day for food and drink, most of the main bars are closed in the evenings. But, bare in mind, you’re not going to need any of them anyway!
Ready to join in next year? Me too! Visit the Rockin Race website to find out headlining acts and when next year’s tickets will be on sale. And for those of you heading to that part of Spain, keep your eye out for my next blog post, featuring the vintage shops and cool places we discovered whilst out there!