Monthly Archives: March 2011

Club Guestlists in Barcelona

Barcelona’s nightclubs can basically we split into two halves. Studenty and posh. Personally I prefer the studenty ones – yes there may be too many dicks on the dancefloor, but at least you can wear whatever you like, and really go wild and have fun without basically giving a damn (which is what clubbing should be all about right?).

The other sort, which the Catalan locals seem to love, as well as female guiris (I guess I’ll have to do a post on guiris some other time! Basically tourists, who look, act and embody every stereotype of tourists) are the ‘exclusive’ nightclubs. I tend to avoid these places, as 1) I hate shoes 2) I hate people who wear shoes 3) no one actually has any fun at these places, they just check each other out a bit and then go home.

Most of these clubs, like Opium Mar, CDLC, Shoko and Sotavento can be found on the Port Olimpic, just by Barceloneta beach. Others like Sutton Club are up by the Diagonal. Many of them are run by the same people, and they are all basically identical copies of one another. If you’re on holiday, have a bit of cash and like your girls/guys nice and dressed up, then there are some merits to a visit – esp. to Opium Mar. This is the one place (I’m not counting Catwalk) which stays open to 6am on the Port Olimpic and the club which pretty much everyone tries to get in. During summer on a saturday night that can be tough!

Anyway the point is that none of these ‘exclusive’ clubs are in fact exclusive at all (hey they even let me in on occasion). You don’t need any special contacts or to grease the palm of the bouncer. You just need to follow a couple of basic rules about dress and get yourself on the guest list… how do you do that? Well there are a tonne of nightlife agencies offering guestlists to all the above clubs and a thousand others you’ve never heard of, desperate to fill the dancefloor of each, from Monday to Sunday. (During summer in particular most of the top venues will throw parties every night!)

Our amigos at Barcelona Life have just started to add some information about club guestlists in Barcelona to their website, starting with info on the all-important Opium guestlist, Sutton guestlist and more. After all it’s one thing to spend a night in a crap venue, but it’s definitely worse to be rejected by one! For some of the other nightclubs you can do some simple Googling to find an agency.

Sadly, all of the best music clubs in the city, like Apolo (home of Nasty Mondays and Crappy Tuesdays!), Razzmatazz and La Terrrazza don’t operate such lists… relying instead on old fashioned methods, like having a good DJ, to get people in.

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Sitges Carnival: A Fancy Dress Fiesta!

For most of my life I have been inclined to see fancy dress parties as a royal pain in the @ss. Choosing who or what you are going as is the first hurdle, then going hunting for whatever you need round every second hand store in town (or your mum’s wardrobe if you’re lucky enough to not have been kicked out of the parental nest… ah those were the days!), then coming home trying it all on and realising you have just spent 50 GBP to look like a prize tw@t. At least, in this scenario, no could accuse you of not making the effort, whilst the other alternative – to turn up with a sheet over your head with two holes cut out, or possible a sword and eye-patch made out of the back of a cereal packet – guarantees you the social acceptance of a known sex offender.

More recently however I’m coming around to the exact reverse way of thinking… I can only assume that because I go out a lot less, making the effort for one big night seems less of a hassle. I’ve even started enjoying putting together a costume (I like to think of it as a creative challenge) and I understand now that the effort and expense you put in before a fancy dress party are all part of the anticipation – the build up! That’s why I was really looking forward to the Sitges Carnival this year, and I must say it didn’t disappoint. Yes, there were a few lame devil horns and plastic forks, but by and large the costumes on display were fantastic. Babies were a popular theme, as were air hostesses – the best ones for my money being the cross-dressed ones, and a wag in a Zapatero mask proved a big hit with the cameras. Others went to further extremes, coming as giant-sized multi-coloured clothes pegs, Barbie dolls still in their boxes, 1980s rally drivers, or a troop of Flintstones, complete with the iconic foot-powered car (which was a bit of menace in the narrow streets of Sitges!).

If you’ve never been to Sitges Carnival then there’s really not too much to explain. It’s basically a big piss up on the streets of Sitges, just down the road from Barcelona and is pretty much considered the best place for Carnival in Spain, after Santa Cruz in Tenerife and Cadiz. Everyone descends on Sitges en masse, usually via train from Barcelona, and trawls the streets booze in hand shouting and singing and laughing at one another’s costumes. Whilst there was no denying the party spirit here in Catalonia, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of official entertainment. In our, admittedly limited, wanderings we didn’t come across any live music or DJs, although of course all the bars and clubs were open and improbably dressed drunkards stumbled between them all. If I were to go next year I’d probably choose either the Sunday, which boasts the enticingly named Rua de la Disbauxa (‘The Debauchery Parade’) or the closing night, which falls on Tuesday. The Tuesday is marked by the Rua de l’Extermini (‘Extermination Parade’), another huge affair this one known for it’s proliferance of drag queens… and I did see some nice flamenco dresses when I was out second-hand shopping…

Some quick tips for those thinking of going to the Sitges Carnival in future years…

1) Aim to get there about 11pm, this is when things start going
2) You can catch the train from Sants Station in Barcelona. Buy a return ticket (6.30 euros in 2011), the police were out in force at the station.
3) The train timetables can be found on www.renfe.com. I think the first one on a Sunday morning left around 5am. We got one at 5.30 or so.
4) Dress warm. It may be Spain/Catalonia but it’s still February/March time… I was wearing a helmet, gloves, leggings, and four layers and still got cold after a couple of hours of being outside. Mind you there were plenty of guys dressed as Baywatch Lifeguards who seemed fine in just a red swimming costume, blond wig and pair of fake tits.
5) Bring your own supply of booze… but not in glass bottles as police will stop and search you at the train station and glass not allowed. I recommend a carton or two of Don Simon sangria available at all good supermarkets for around 1 euro.