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Guillermo Jiménez and Vivi Milla in Sleazy Records, the shop that has become their second home. Marilú Báez
The rock 'n' roll couple behind the Rockin' Race in Torremolinos
In the frame

The rock 'n' roll couple behind the Rockin' Race in Torremolinos

Guille and Vivi have clocked up 30 years together. They share the milestone with one of the most influential jamborees for the music genre that will see the Costa del Sol resort turned into 1950s Memphis again this February

Regina Sotorrío

Malaga

Friday, 12 January 2024, 13:42

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He's dressed in vintage Levis, original Chicago ankle boots and a 1950s-style denim shirt bought in Japan. She does not shy away from the current brands we all know but she styles them to give a retro look. They pose for the photo next to a record player, a Hofner guitar from the '60s, vinyl records and posters of Johnny Cash in what is their second home - Sleazy Records. There is nothing pretentious or stilted about this couple - they are rock 'n' rollers, heart and soul. Guillermo Jiménez and Vivi Milla have made their passion for music and the American look of the '50s and '60s their lifestyle. What's more, they share that passion with the world. For 30 years the couple have been the promoters of the Rockin' Race Jamboree, the festival that every winter transforms Torremolinos into the Memphis of 70 years ago. For 2024 they will work their magic once again from 1st to 4th February.

Each year the Rockin' Race Jamboree kicks off the global rockabilly festival circuit. Not only is it the first festival of the year but it is also one that hardcore rockers most relish due to the great atmosphere and the mild climate on the Costa del Sol. The image of '50s-style girls with their feet in the pool in the middle of winter is already an event classic. Many book their stay from one year to the next without even knowing the line-up. After 30 rounds they know the music will always be of a certain quality.

Thirtieth anniversary

This February the rock and roll festival celebrates its 30th anniversary by hosting 42 bands, mostly international, spread over four days on four different stages. There will be a lot of rockabilly, of course, but also some garage, punk and rhythm and blues.

"We are one of the most daring on the European scene. Bands want to come because they'll get discovered here," says Guille. There is room too for homegrown nostalgia with Los Sírex, Barcelona-based suit-clad rockers who go back to the sixties. Also appearing will be some big names in US rock 'n' roll who have never set foot in Spain before, such as Texan trio Reverend Horton Heat. Linda Gail Lewis, Jerry Lee Lewis's sister, will also be there. Current bands will appear too, such as The Surfrajettes, four girls from Toronto who exude the 1960s Californian vibe, as well as more traditional ones, such as the bluegrass band The Po' Ramblin' Boys.

Global family of rockers

For just a few days Torremolinos turns into the meeting point for this global family of rockers, "where you meet up with your Mexican, Japanese or Australian friend who you only see from festival to festival", says Vivi. The musicians meet up with friends too. "And you have a drink next to the person who just sang. They don't play the star card by scuttling back to their hotel," she adds.

Up to 5,000 people a day will pass through the different Rockin' venues: the Barracuda Hotel with its morning pool party (the hotel rooms are always fully booked for this event), the Príncipe de Asturias municipal auditorium for the evening concerts, the Plaza del Remo for free performances and the Paradiso Dancing Hall, complete with its retro wooden dance floor with velvet drapes and mirrors brought over especially last year for the first time from Holland.

Small beginnings

This all started as a gathering of friends that quickly got out of hand. More than 30 years ago, when rockers and mods were great rivals, the Rock and Roll Club was formed in Calle Beatas in Malaga. It brought together fans of 1950s music who exchanged records and organised concerts featuring bands who, would never have set foot in Malaga otherwise. "We had to set it up ourselves or they wouldn't have come."

As more fans appeared, they needed more space. "A mod friend of ours gave us the contact details of Torremolinos bar where they held their gatherings. In the end, we rockers got to have a festival thanks to the mods," recalls Guille.

One of life's ironies. They were barely 18 years old and promo posters were sent by snail mail. With time, and plenty of word of mouth, the event grew. Around the same time the demands on, responsibilities of and tensions within the group increased. The original club was dissolved and Vivi and Guille took up the mantle to continue with the venture that has not stopped expanding in response to demand as much from the public as from the bands.

Retro record store

Just over the road from their old secondary school in central Malaga where they first met stands their record store and record label, Sleazy Records, weathering all storms and vagaries in fashion, politics and the economy.

Theirs is a success story of hard work and perseverance but also of a timeless music genre with an extremely loyal audience that values the hard product over the digital. They only sell records on first release, reissues of classics and albums by bands they like and which they themselves edit and distribute globally. "Some bands that play the festival go to Hollers Studio straight after to record in analogue and release the album with us." Their days are filled with rock 'n' roll. "That's why sometimes, when we get home at night, we put on a jazz record," they joke.

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