IT was the summer of 2002…
Tony Blair was plotting the invasion of Iraq, Halle Berry had just become the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, and the Queen was celebrating her 50th year on the throne.
Meanwhile Spanish girl group Las Ketchup had begun filming Asereje (The ketchup Song) at the ‘Palm Beach’ chiringuito on Spain’s Costa del Sol, the song that would launch their careers.
However fast forward 17 years and the original beach bar in Estepona has been demolished, and has just reopened following a huge refurbishment.
Its owner Erwin Vanderdonck, 52, bought the now-famous establishment in 2001, filming with the Spanish sisters the following May.
But, speaking with the Olive Press, the Dutch bar-owner admitted that initially he ‘had doubts’ about whether to do the video at all.
“I asked the director, ‘can I see the song?’”, Erwin said, “He showed me, and I said ‘oh no this is not what I want to do’.”
“I started Palm Beach with a different kind of music, our style was more acid jazz and chill-out groups.”
But Vanderdonck, who is originally from Amsterdam, did let the shoot go ahead, and thus helped create one of the most successful songs of the early 2000s.
As the original Palm Beach has now been bulldozed, Lucía Muñoz, of Las Ketchup, said she and her sisters, ‘had not had chance’ to return, before their piece of musical history disappeared.
But the girl group, who now live between Madrid and Córdoba, do remember the day of filming.
“It was summer, and there was a lot of joy with all the extras at the video recording,” she said.
“We had a great time, there was a good atmosphere, it was a perfect place, the best from the area.”
Lucía and her other sisters, Pilar and Lola had not long since signed to Córdoba label Shaketown Music, before recording their debut single Asereje.
The song went on to become number one in the charts in 27 countries, including the UK, where it went platinum, with global sales of over seven million copies.
The Las Ketchup girls became overnight sensations and were chosen to represent Spain at Eurovision 2006.
The band sat in office chairs during the bizarre performance, singing about ordering a Bloody Mary, and finished in just 21st place on 18 points.
Nevertheless, Asereje cemented its place in noughties culture, perhaps due to its lyrical structure, based on Rapper’s Delight, and its corny dance moves – a series of hand chops, knee knocks and hip shaking.
This was after all, the era of DJ Casper’s Cha Cha Slide (2000) and The Fast Food Rockers’ Fast Food Song (2003).
But even after Las Ketchup left Palm Beach, Erwin was unaware of what he had unleashed on the world.
“We never realised how big the song was,” he said, “I found out how famous it was becoming when I got a call from a newspaper in Holland the following August.”
Erwin’s newly-owned Palm Beach was on a list of filming locations from Mundo Studios in nearby Cancelada.
All the beach bars were vying for the opportunity to have an exciting new pop group dance on their tabletops.
“We were on a list of 10 chiringuitos that then went down to three, and then they chose us,” Erwin said.
“The guy choosing didn’t even go to the other two, the whole thing went past in a blur, we had just opened.
“I had just left 10 years of the financial sector in Amsterdam and London, and then I went to Spain.
“I wanted to get away from the mayhem of finance.”
The Costa del Sol’s most famous beach bar was torn down, in order to install stronger foundations than when it was built in 1998.
Erwin re-opened last week, and revealed he has saved a few of the iconic pieces of furniture from the video.
“We’ve still got the picnic tables they were dancing on, and the sign in the background,” he said.
“We will be finding somewhere for those in the new place.
“It is a similar size to what it was, but with a bigger kitchen and most of the staff are coming back.
“My intention with Palm Beach was to create a place where I could come and relax.
“Hopefully we can get the same vibe back.
“It was surreal, we had many great times in there, but things are going to be even better.”
Lucía from the band added: “We feel sorry the original Palm beach has been destroyed, because it was a very nice beach bar and it brings back good memories.”
She and her sisters all now have children and have all worked on various side-projects.
Lola even went to study flamencology and publish the biography of her father, the legendary guitarist, Juan Muñoz aka The Tomato.
The band say they still enjoy performing Asereje, with their most recent rendition being at the Eurovision 2019 warm-up event in Madrid in April.
“We are always excited to see how the public enjoys and dances with us,” Lucía said.
Las Ketchup have a summer full of touring, with upcoming performances in France, Romania and Spain, and with more dates to be announced.