Boozing and rowdiness persist despite measures against noise

Acoustically stressed area in Poblenou does not comply with time restrictions as street parties continue until sunrise

Mar Bermúdez i Jiménez
3 min
A grocery store on Alaba street in Poblenou, which did not close at ten o'clock.

Barcelona"Hi. Excuse me, what time do you close?" It's half past ten at night. "Twelve o'clock, but I sell alcohol until eleven." It's a Thursday in August in Poblenou, in the area between Meridiana and the streets Tànger, Llacuna, Pallars, Badajoz, Pujades and Marina, where several entertainment venues are located. The party has not yet started and there are few people around. This is the first Thursday in which the new measures against noise are in force. "In a couple of hours you will see the atmosphere," says a shopkeeper in the area. The area is now a ZATHN (acoustically stressed area at night), and hence subject to Barcelona City Council's new measures announced in July to reverse noise pollution and ensure "quality sleep" for residents. Among the measures approved is the closure of food shops at ten o'clock at night.

Some shops closed due to the new time restrictions.

Looking around the area you can see several closed establishments. Some have only closed after making the last sales. "This is very bad," says a shopkeeper as he closes. However, those that close are few, while a large number remain open. Between eleven and twelve o'clock at night the police presence starts, as patrols repeatedly pass by the door of the open stores without taking any action. It is also time for bars and restaurants to clear their outdoor seating; waiters lower the blinds and bring the tables while also inviting customers to sit inside, shutters closed, to continue partying.

Gradually the streets become lively, as young people arrive and claim their little piece of pavement with the plastic bags where they carry the alcohol that will help them get the party started. Outside the most emblematic bars, on Pere IV with Àlaba street, large parties rave around one o'clock in the morning. Many stores are still open and young people take advantage to buy more alcohol. "These supermarkets have prevented more than one alcoholic coma," says one girl, who explains that being able to buy food late at night can be useful to avoid drinking problems. "I buy a lot if nothing else is open - don't let them close!" another comments.

The party goes on into the morning

At half past one, the street is already full of groups of young people dressed to the nines pre-drinking before hitting the nearby clubs. Razzmatazz's Mandanga party has sold out. Clubbers at Wolf and Merlin will also be able to party until the sunrise. Nightlife venues have only just opened and youngsters are in no rush. The presence of the police in the area is constant, but no patrol asks shopkeepers to close, nor intervenes in the illegal street party. While at 10 pm the street was quiet and would have allowed neighbours to sleep, at 3 am the partying is loud and lively. This crowd, youngsters, security guards and shopkeepers explain, will continue until the morning. Slowly it moves towards the club's entrances, but the street will continue with the noise of groups drinking, singing and shouting.

Tamara Vázquez, from the SOS Triángulo Golfo association, explains precisely this: "The supermarket opposite my flat still closes at midnight and I have not heard of the rest closing earlier". As for the noise, she assures that they have not yet noticed any change with the new time restrictions. In the two nights the measures have been in force, it seems that very few people have complied with it and, be that as it may, the noise continues.