different cities

I’ve lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Chapel Hill, and now Barcelona. Plus I’ve visited a few other countries and cities. So my experience is fairly significant. Part of why I chose Barcelona for my exchange was to give it a second chance. I visited in October 2004, and didn’t really like Barcelona or the Catalans whose hometown it is. Yet so many people love this city, I thought for sure I had missed something. So here I am, in the middle of winter, and well, Barcelona is not a happy place.

People in the street are generally very serious and somewhat conservative. I think back to other major cities I’ve lived in and I know it was similar, but I’ve heard so much about Barcelona as a party town, I expect to see a smile now and then. A splash of color. Anything… Yet it seems Barcelona is in hibernation. Sure, the partying goes on 7 nights a week, and by night, I mean all night for those with the fortitude, but word on the street is that the city will re-awaken as Spring returns and be completely alive come Summer. By which time I hope to be settling into my fabulous new job somewhere I have yet to find. So I might never know the Barcelona most visitors have known. Which doesn’t bother me much, as I’m not really much of a party animal anyway. I would just like to see if people tend to look happier here during the summer. I asked a local about it and he said sure, there’s more tourists, so you’ll see more happy people. But not more happy Catalans?

In any case, it’s an interesting comparison with Chapel Hill. My friend Jamie lives at one of those planned communities, Southern Village, and calls it “The Happiest Place on Earth” because it’s so nice and perfect, just like Disneyland. They did such a good job, I even enjoy going there, and I hate all the other planned communities. When I moved to Chapel Hill, I recall being somewhat disturbed by the proliferation of a brand called “Life is Good.” These stickers and t-shirts were everywhere. Being a New Yorker in spirit, I found this rather disturbing. Yes, life is indeed good in Chapel Hill, it’s easy, people are nice, the weather is awesome, etc. But it just seemed so Pollyanna. I got nostalgic for New York, where everyone has something to gripe about.

After this club (see photo), I hate Barcelona. Particularly because I don’t understand how a city known for its fantastic nightlife can have such painfully bad clubs. I hate Latin music. I hate pop. Now I know exactly how much I hate Latin Pop. I left this club almost in tears because I tried so hard to enjoy it and simply could not. One song had the one Latin beat I like, but not even for the whole song. And of course not being able to understand the words (except the refrain of one song- something about a black shirt) makes it worse. I need to relate to the lyrics to get into a song. I discovered this when I accompanied my friend Erin to a house club in NYC. I just couldn’t cut loose because there was no story to dance to. Being a teetotaler makes it even harder to tolerate a club that doesn’t do it for me. The place we went to last Friday was so much better. Small, great music, interesting crowd and it was actually light enough to be able to see them.


One comment

  1. I wouldn’t expect Barcelona to have such seasonal mood swings. Sweden is a suicide ward in winter and a carnival in summer. But we have a climate excuse.
    Could it be that the happy people are sleeping when you walk the streets?


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