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Episode 39: El Woodstock chileno (Chilean Woodstock)

By Duolingo on Wed 25 September 2019

In 1970, in a country polarized by cold-war politics, Jorge Gómez organized an outdoor music festival. But what he expected to be a peaceful gathering, turned into a life-defining moment that would become an enduring myth in his country.

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Martina: Jorge Gomez was just a senior in high school when he organized Chile’s first ever music festival. It was October, 1970. Jorge remembers the day before it started. He and a group of friends were installing a little wooden stage in the foothills of the Andes, near Santiago.

Jorge: El festival iba a empezar al día siguiente, pero vimos que, en ese momento, cientos de jóvenes caminaban por las montañas hacia arriba. Fue muy impresionante ver el entusiasmo de tanta gente por venir a este festival que yo estaba organizando sin mucha ayuda.

Martina: It was like a scene right out of the documentary about Woodstock that had inspired Jorge to organize this in the first place – hundreds of young Chileans were showing up dressed in the latest hippie fashions, carrying tents, or carpas, and musical instruments.

Jorge: Alguien puso una bandera blanca con el signo de la paz. Las personas construyeron una carpa gigante para protegerse del sol y empezaron a tocar guitarras. Nosotros aún estábamos terminando de organizar todo, pero el festival ya había comenzado.

Martina: The festival was called ”Piedra Roja”, or Red Stone. It promised peace, music and love in a country polarized by cold-war politics. Ultimately, it would become a decisive event in Jorge’s life and it would take on mythical proportions in his country’s history.

Martina: Bienvenidos and welcome to the Duolingo Spanish Podcast — I’m Martina Castro.

Every episode, we bring you fascinating true stories, to help you improve your Spanish listening, and gain new perspectives on the world.

The storyteller will be using intermediate Spanish and I’ll be chiming in for context in English. If you miss something, you can always skip back and listen again – and we also offer full transcripts at podcast.duolingo.com.

A quick note: this story might not be appropriate for all audiences. So, please listen at your own discretion.

Martina: In 1967, Jorge Gómez returned to Chile with his family after living in England for a dozen years. He was 16 at the time and it was difficult for him to leave the land of The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, to return to a conservative and far away country.

Jorge: Yo nací en Chile y crecí en Inglaterra. Cuando regresé a Chile, me rebelé porque vi que los jóvenes se sentían muy reprimidos.

Martina: Reprimidos means repressed. After two years of Jorge’s growing rebelliousness, his parents gave him two options: go to a Chilean boarding school, or join the military.

Jorge: Yo entré a la Escuela Naval, pero las restricciones eran demasiadas. Fue mucho para mí y la dejé.

Martina: In 1970, Salvador Allende became the world’s first democratically elected socialist president. It was a sign that Chile’s social structure was changing. Jorge was 19 and, after being expelled from the Naval Academy, he was finally about to graduate from high school. But then, in October of that same year, a documentary called “Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music” came out in Santiago’s cinemas.

Jorge: Woodstock me hizo ver que las personas pueden reunirse en el campo y vivir tres días de música, rock y paz.

Martina: The year before, Woodstock had brought together half a million people and it defined a generation. It became a global phenomenon.

Jorge: Inspirados en Woodstock, un grupo de compañeros y yo decidimos organizar un festival de música. Yo tenía 19 años y era el principal organizador del evento.

Martina: In the beginning the idea was to organize an event that would bring together maybe a few hundred people. The money from the tickets would allow them to pay for a trip to celebrate the end of their senior year in high school. But they also had another goal: to unite two hippie communities in Santiago.

Jorge: Unos eran los hippies del barrio alto que se veían los fines de semana en una famosa heladería.

Martina: Una heladería is an ice cream shop.

Jorge: Los otros eran los hippies más intelectuales. Ellos se veían en un parque en el centro de la ciudad.

Martina: Despite their class differences, Jorge thought the groups could come together over their shared fondness for rock music and admiration for counterculture abroad. The idea of organizing a Chilean Woodstock rapidly snowballed – now his classmates and also people from the local hippie scene wanted to help.

Jorge: En el grupo organizador había 30 personas. Sin embargo, yo hablé con el alcalde, también con el responsable de la propiedad donde hicimos el evento y con la compañía eléctrica.

Martina: Jorge even got Coca-Cola to sponsor it.

Jorge: Ellos dijeron que iban a instalar el escenario, si a cambio nosotros vendíamos su bebida.

Martina: He also managed to get a space for the festival in the foothills of the Andes, near Santiago. It was close enough for young Chileans to get there from almost every neighborhood in the city.

Jorge: El festival tenía que comenzar el 11 de octubre y seguir hasta el 12, porque en esa fecha se celebra el Día de la Raza.

Martina: Día de la Raza is Columbus Day.

Jorge: Los medios de comunicación se interesaron en el festival desde el comienzo.

Martina: The media had an important role in shaping how Santiago’s hippies were perceived. At the time, there weren’t any magazines like Rolling Stone or Cream in Chile. Hippies came mostly from affluent families who were able to travel abroad. They brought back records and hippie fashion.

Jorge: Chile estaba polarizado. Por una parte, estaba la izquierda que defendía a Salvador Allende. Por otra, la derecha que estaba radicalmente en contra de ese gobierno. Las dos partes tenían medios de comunicación.

Martina: Chilean hippies didn’t fit anywhere. They were a small countercultural tribe in a country polarized by cold-war politics. What brought them together was mostly rock music and the feeling that they wanted something different than their parents’ generation.

Jorge: La izquierda nos odiaba por escuchar música “imperialista” y la derecha porque no respetábamos los valores tradicionales.

Martina: Popular rock bands like Los Jaivas, which was Spanish word play for “The High Bass”, or “high base”, and Aguaturbia, or “Turbid Water,” were asked to play the festival for free—and they said yes. They were used to play in small indoor venues, so they jumped at the chance to play at Chile’s first open-air festival.

Jorge: La gente empezó a llegar un día antes del comienzo del festival. Esa tarde, cuando nosotros estábamos terminando de organizar todo, llegaron casi mil personas. Vinieron muchos hippies de todas las edades y algunos con sus familias. ¡Fue el mejor momento para mí!

Martina: Jorge didn’t know it at the time, but this was the only moment he was really going to enjoy the festival. He felt he was achieving his goal of bringing the hippie community together. They were arriving and bringing along tents, guitars, bongos, and wine. They also made bonfires, or fogatas.

Jorge: Si tres personas tenían una fogata, estas se unían con la fogata de al lado y se formaba una sola fogata más grande. Luego, esa fogata se juntaba con otra y se formaba una gran fogata. Mientras tanto, todos ponían sus carpas y tocaban guitarra.

Martina: There was a white flag with a peace sign that flew above a big tent that people called el paracaídas, the parachute. There, hippies took shelter from the sun.

Jorge: Desafortunadamente, la producción era deficiente. El sonido no era muy bueno. Nosotros solo teníamos un micrófono para el vocalista y amplificación para el bajo y la guitarra, pero nada para la batería.

Martina: The stage was a wooden platform about twenty-four meters squared and the lighting was just a single flickering bulb inside a tin can. The only source of power came through a long electrical cable connected to the nearest pole, which was thousands of meters away.

Jorge: Fue un error enorme porque el cable pasaba entre ramas de espino.

Martina: Jorge paid for the cable with a blank check from his mom. It dangerously rested on a bush of thorns, or ramas de espino.

Jorge: ¿Lo peor de todo? El cable pasaba muy cerca de la gente. Esto fue un gran problema porque la electricidad se cortó muchas veces durante el festival.

Martina: On opening day, thousands of young Chileans walked uphill to reach the festival. They had either heard about it through a friend or read about it in a local newspaper.

Jorge: Ver a tanta gente era emocionante. Sin embargo, yo no lo pasé muy bien. Estaba exhausto, porque yo era el responsable del evento. En realidad, yo no estaba disfrutando la música, sino que estaba preocupado por el caos que se estaba formando.

Martina: When it came time for ”Los Jaivas” to perform, one of Chile’s most famous rock bands, it was clear that many people from outside the hippie community were also there.

Jorge: Mientras la banda tocaba, algunas personas boicotearon el concierto. Esas personas cortaban el único cable que nos daba electricidad y nosotros teníamos que correr para repararlo. Nosotros nunca supimos quiénes hicieron esto ni por qué lo hicieron.

Martina: After newspapers reported on the first day of the festival, even more people showed up in the morning hours of the second day. But this time, Jorge noticed, it wasn’t just young people. Journalists, parents started to arrive.

Jorge: La prensa estaba informando sobre el festival. Por esta razón, los padres vinieron a buscar a sus hijos. También vinieron personas que no tenían nada que ver con nuestra audiencia.

Martina: On the second day of the festival, 15,000 people were there and things were getting out of control, when six policemen suddenly arrived looking for Jorge.

Jorge: Ellos me preguntaron: “¿Es usted Jorge Gómez, el organizador de este festival?”. Yo les respondí que sí. Entonces me dijeron: “Ok, vamos a hacer una inspección del lugar”.

Martina: The police and Jorge walked around the area. People had ransacked the Coca-Cola kiosks, drank the sodas, broke bottles, and used the wooden crates to make bonfires. Then, outside of a tent, the police saw and empty bottle of wine.

Jorge: Los policías también vieron una escena íntima. Estaban furiosos y dijeron: “Desde este momento, el festival es ilegal porque hay consumo de alcohol entre menores y conductas inapropiadas en la vía pública”.

Martina: The festival was shut down.

Jorge: Honestamente, todo se había salido de control. Me sentí mucho más tranquilo cuando lo cancelaron.

Martina: After the police shut down the festival, everyone started leaving. It was peaceful — attendants didn’t have a clue about what had happened, until it came out in the newspapers.

Martina: The media had covered the festival extensively. It didn’t matter if they were left- or right-wing outlets — Piedra Roja was portrayed as a scandal: full of sex, drugs, and loud music. Jorge became its public face.

Jorge: Cuando el festival terminó, me sentí muy solo. Ninguno de mis compañeros de la organización estuvo conmigo.

Martina: Two days after the festival, Jorge was interviewed on television about Piedra Roja and its repercussions. Unlike the camaraderie that happened during the first day of the festival, he now felt completely alone.

Jorge: Cuando terminé la entrevista, me encontré con un grupo de padres enojados en la calle. Ellos me dijeron que sus hijas se habían ido de sus casas por culpa de Piedra Roja. Me empujaron al suelo y me empezaron a dar golpes y patadas.

Martina: By direct order from the Ministry of Education, Jorge was expelled from his school. He also wasn’t welcomed at his house anymore.

Jorge: Destruí mis certificados de estudio, me dejé crecer el pelo y me fui de la casa de mis padres. Yo acepté las consecuencias y pensé: “Si creo en ser hippie, tengo que vivirlo completamente”.

Martina: He felt that society had turned its back on him. So for the next two years, he lived in a community in the Andes. He survived on farming and making leather souvenirs which he sold to tourists crossing into Chile from Argentina.

Jorge: Esa fue mi vida: una vida simple… Por lo menos, hasta el golpe de estado.

Martina: The golpe de estado, or military coup, happened on September 11, 1973. It came three years into Salvador Allende’s presidential term. His efforts to restructure Chilean society along socialist lines, had further polarized the country.

Jorge: Nosotros no habíamos escuchado las noticias, pero el 11 y 12 de septiembre teníamos que ir a Santiago y el sistema de transporte público no funcionaba.

Martina: Which is why Jorge and a friend decided to walk the two hours it took to get to Santiago.

Jorge: Nosotros bajamos por la montaña. En el camino estaba una de las dos casas de Salvador Allende. Sin embargo, antes de llegar ahí, unos militares nos pararon y nos preguntaron si no habíamos escuchado las noticias.

Martina: Jorge told the soldiers that they lived in a community in the foothills of the Andes and that they hadn’t heard the news.

Jorge: Un militar nos dijo: “El presidente se suicidó”. Después nos habló del golpe de estado.

Martina: In the eyes of the military, it didn’t make much difference if Jorge and his friend were supporters of Allende or not. They had long hair, wore ragged jeans, and seemed out of place. They were immediately handcuffed.

Jorge: El militar les dijo a unos soldados: “Apunten sus armas y disparen si se mueven”. Después, él llamó a los policías para llevarnos a un centro de detención.

Martina: Minutes later, a policeman arrived and he recognized Jorge.

Jorge: “Jorge, ¿qué haces acá?”, me preguntó el policía. Él trabajaba en la zona y nos conocía de la comunidad. Él sabía que éramos pacíficos y se lo dijo al militar.

Martina: The officer in charge didn’t care that they were pacifists. “These are terrorists,” he said. “Take them to the National Stadium.” Jorge and his friend didn’t know that Santiago’s National Stadium was being used as a detention center.

Jorge: Diez kilómetros después, el policía paró el auto y me dijo: “Jorge, tú no quieres ir al Estadio Nacional. Bájate del auto”.

Martina: At first Jorge resisted, because he didn’t understand what was happening. But the policeman insisted, and said he needed to get out of the car.

Jorge: Me dijo: “Te voy a dar un par de consejos; te vas por este camino, regresas a tu casa y no vayas a Santiago en dos o tres meses como mínimo. Ah, y otra cosa… te tienes que cortar el pelo”.

Martina: To this day, Jorge thinks about that moment. He almost ended up in a place where people were tortured.

Jorge: Estoy vivo gracias a ese policía. Nunca más supe de él. Me gustaría mucho darle las gracias.

Martina: Eventually, Jorge left the community in the foothills and returned to mainstream society. It was difficult. A military junta ruled Chile and people were persecuted and killed. For many years, Jorge hid the fact that he had organized Piedra Roja, and that he used to be a hippie.

Jorge: En una dictadura, las personas tienen que cuidar sus palabras porque siempre te están observando. Había mucha persecución y mucha paranoia.

Martina: In 1990, Chile returned to democracy. Since then, the country has become one of Latin America’s hotspots for concerts and music festivals like Lollapalooza. And Piedra Roja, “the Chilean Woodstock,” became a pop culture legend for younger generations.

Jorge: Muchas personas dicen que fueron a Piedra Roja. También he encontrado entrevistas con versiones de otro ‘organizador’. Pero yo me ocupé de todo, a mí me expulsaron de la escuela y yo tuve que irme de mi casa.

Martina: After working jobs as a flight attendant and running a pub, Jorge finally graduated from high school, and he became involved in Chile’s wine export business.

Jorge: Pero ser hippie es un estilo de vida diferente. Tiene que ver con disfrutar de las cosas simples.

Martina: Even though he is now a businessman, he still thinks of himself as a hippie. Because being a hippie, he says, is reflected in how you educate your children or how you communicate with other people.

Jorge: ¿Qué me queda de todo esto? Que yo organicé, con muy poca ayuda, el primer festival de música de este país. Al final, no me ha ido tan mal. No me arrepiento de nada.

Martina: And his long hippie hairstyle?

Jorge: Seguí el consejo del policía y me lo corté, pero no lo tiré a la basura. Hoy todavía lo tengo, guardado en una caja.

Martina: Jorge Gómez Ainslie now lives in Isla de Maipo in Chile. This story was produced by “Ado” or Antonio Díaz Oliva, a Chilean writer and translator living in East Nashville.

We’d love to know what you thought of this episode! Send us an email with your feedback at podcast@duolingo.com. And if you liked the story, please share it! You can find the audio and a transcript of each episode at podcast.duolingo.com. You can also subscribe at Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening app so you never miss an episode.

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The Duolingo Spanish Podcast is produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media. I’m the executive producer, Martina Castro. Gracias por escuchar.

Credits

This episode was produced by Duolingo and Adonde Media.

Script Writer: Antonio Díaz Oliva (ADO)
Narrator & Protagonist: Jorge Gómez Ainslie
Script Editor: Catalina May
Mixed by: Maria Murriel
Sound Design & Mastering Engineer: Martín Cruz Farga
Executive Producer/Editor: Martina Castro