Plaça del Sol, an open-air club during Gràcia's festival

3 min
Joves, extending the party past curfew in Barcelona's Plaça del Sol, during the Fiestas de Gràcia.

An open-air club. That is what the Plaça del Sol in Barcelona's Gràcia neighbourhood was from about midnight until 1.30 am, the curfew no longer dissuading anyone. A few hundred youngsters prolong their night out at their own pace, lightly clad and sweaty, with alcohol and the desire to party dissolving any worries. Nonexistent safety distance, even more nonexistent masks and let the morrow bring what it may. Loudspeakers blaring out a selection of the latest hits, beer-can sellers making a killing and let's pray that the sixth wave is just a bluff, a poetic license. "But we are all vaccinated, don't be such a killjoy!" Gisela and Aina are in no doubt, as are their new friends with surfer shirts, hairstyle and chest muscles. Police cars, motorbikes and the odd van have been driving up and down Gràcia for a while now, but have not given revellers a single warning. What's the point of banning crowds and partying if nobody does anything when there is a square full of young people without masks? Everyone knows parties at Plaça del Sol take place.

In the middle, surrounded by the terraces, groups of friends gather with the sweet company of the famous plastic cup to go and the no less famous "Excuse me, do you have cigarette paper?" always at the ready. If you put your ear to the ground and know how to dissimulate you can catch a good handful of pearls. Like this group of girls - they're no more than nineteen - who comment on the campaign against harassment and sexual aggression launched and disseminated this year by the festival: "In Gràcia only yes is yes". "Write down your phone number just in case, auntie". One of the friends, German, has flirted and is not for many sermons, she counts the minutes of courtesy to leave to the hostel accompanied.

Every now and then, if you look closely, you see a mask on. Idoya doesn't want to do without it, even if it makes her look out of place in the crowd. "What do you think of the fact that hardly anyone is wearing one?" She shrugs her shoulders, not answering anything very intelligible. On the stage in Bailén street, Side Chick and Los Vecinos de Manué have paraded a good string of covers. Also in the Plaça de la Vila, Rumba Compays are playing to a seated crowd subject to strict measures, a sharp contrast with the every man for himself of the neighbouring square. In Can la Traba on Travessera de Gràcia there are two warning signs: "Come with a positive attitude" and "This place is not a tourist attraction”. All the attendants have taken good note. They move aside diligently when a van and two motorbikes of the Urbana pass by, slow down, look and continue on their way. A definitive positive attitude: the party continues and Bob's your uncle.

Revellers cleared from Plaça del Sol on the first night of the Gràcia festival.

On Plaça del Sol, if someone pronounced the concept of curfew, they would be considered a Martian at the very least. Until half past one the Guardia Urbana does not appear and the effect is immediate, almost effervescent, the square empties in a few seconds, magically, without any resistance, no outburst of rebellion, no push, no restless truncheon. The music fades out, can sellers leave with their tails between their legs, the couple who have hooked up already planning where to continue their night. "Keep moving, keep moving!".