Misc 22/06/2021

Farewell to Universal: one of Barcelona's legendary 80s trendy bars is demolished

The emblematic building in the Sant Gervasi-Galvany district had been a bar, but also an important cultural meeting point

Joana Garreta Passola
2 min
The façade of the Universal Bar just gone to be demolished

BarcelonaThe Universal is now history. The legendary bar with a dance hall, located in the fashionable Sant Gervasi-Galvany district of Barcelona that lived its glorious years in the 80s, has been demolished on Monday. Its four walls, which had initially been a working-class casino, held many stories. Some were revealed when the company Sunway threw the facade of the premises to the ground: "It is where I asked my partner to marry me" recalled Agustí, who's work office is nearby. Some neighbors, passing by, also stopped to see the building, to take pictures and to lament the disappearance of the premises with acquaintances.

The demolished building of the old Universal.

"It was our second home", some neighbours who looked at the building with interest explained to ARA. Others cannot forget the nostalgia of all that they have lived inside: "We were young". There are even those who share specific and unforgettable moments, like Agustí himself.

In the last few days the demolition work has already begun inside, but this Monday afternoon the façade of the building was pulled down, a manoeuvre that has left the rubble that could already be seen through the windows. Impossible to distinguish, among the stones, the bar, the sofas or even the dance floor of the Universal. The Barcelona City Council asked for the decision to be postponed in order to evaluate the heritage value of the building, according to the local newspaper El Jardí but, finally, the owner company has ended up demolishing the building.

With a cultural pedigree

Before being a bar, the building on Carrer Marià Cubí had been home to the Flor de Maig, a Galvany cooperative. The place witnessed the workers' associations in a neighbourhood that was gradually being transformed and gentrified.

In the 1980s it was converted into a bar that combined two spaces. The ground floor was a dance area and on the first floor there was a quieter space that invited conversations, debates and cultural gatherings. "They say [...] that upstairs there will be gatherings, as before, when it was the neighbourhood casino", wrote Quim Monzó in a chronicle dedicated to this place in one of his books. He explained that it would house groups such as the Centre d'Estudis i Debats, or others which until then had been located in Goblin's bar. There are also records of presentations, cultural events and other meetings of this kind in the bar.

The bar had illustrious customers, such as the poet J.V. Foix, who is recorded in an image by the photographer Robert Ramos, during the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the publishing house Quaderns Crema, by Jaume Vallcorba, who also appears in the photograph. Foix, who was one of the illustrious authors of this literary imprint, starred in this meeting full of symbolism at the Universal, one of the last images of relaxation of the poet from Sarrià, who greeted the audience with a cry that will go down in history: "Long live noise!".