police, fines and disobedient youngsters

The video lasts a mere 10 seconds: Around the DJ, at least 20 people, arms raised, shouting, no mask, close together. It was on Thursday at the Barceló Theater, old Pachá, one of the most traditional nightclubs in Madrid, taken by young people indifferent to the increase in COVID infections. “A specific event at a specific time,” the property was excused the next day in a contrite statement. But on Friday there was a party again at the premises, which already had the tickets sold. Another 400 post-adolescent and hairless twenty-somethings went there, in what turned out to be a game of cat and mouse between customers, police and security personnel, the latter trying to keep the former from taking off their mask and staying seated. The success was relative.

Madrid nightclubs can operate as restaurants since October, thanks to an order from the Community of Madrid to compensate them after months of forced closure. The tracks are covered with tables, chairs and screens, keeping their distance, and food is offered. But the music continues at full volume, and when the bulk of the capacity is young with rampant hormones, prudence is not a factor, and less from the second drink. “It’s a complicated audience, as soon as you turn around they escape,” sighed one of the waiters in suspenders and a bow tie who at times served combined, at times acted as a babysitter. The bars did not work, everything was ordered at the table.

Friday’s session began at 5:30 p.m. and ended at 10:00 p.m., and at the door, the nervousness of the employees was evident first thing in the morning, aware that the video of the previous night had circulated on all the news. Hydrogel dispenser at the entrance, ticket control, large poster on the bottom informing of the security measures and guided access to the designated seat, in this case on the first of two floors and with some suspense, because the seat in question does not it was where it was supposed to be.

The prices per table – separated by a couple of meters, or with a screen in the middle if they were closer together – started at 40 euros for those with two people, increasing progressively depending on the number of seats (up to six), the arrangement, more or less centered, and the extras, such as the bottle presented with a sparkler candle, highly sought after (not so the snacks, available, but not requested). Customers had to be inside at 7:00 p.m., and it was shortly before that time that the theater began to fill up. Strategies to circumvent the ban on getting up from the table began immediately; for example, using the telephone. “If three of you go to the bathroom, we go another three over there, you decide who,” a boy from a group of six proposed from above to a friend who was at one of the tables on the dance floor.

The musical selection was more or less eclectic, within the radio, namely: Karol G with Nicki Minaj, Myke Towers, Maffio and Justin Quiles with ‘Cristina’, chanted with fervor, or a minimal pill of Abba. It was compulsory to remain seated, except to go to the bathroom with a mask, but some bypassed the veto as soon as the closest security guard or waiter walked a few meters away. It was the case of a girl who jumped up and tried a hip shake, then stooped and squatted, absurdly, to see if they did not discover her. Another did manage to make three or four movements while some colleagues recorded it. Again, an employee arrived and ordered him to sit down. “That you can’t stand, damn it,” another worker got angry on the fourth or fifth attempt by some young people on the other corner.

The mechanics were repeated with variations. Walk to go out to smoke a cigarette or go to the toilet, and on the way back, pretend to be clueless or clueless to change places and be able to talk with the interesting boy in the white shirt or the nice young woman in the black dress. The more alcohol, the less modesty. At that point the local police arrived, who are investigating what happened the night before and did not want more scares. Three agents went up to the first floor, behind the sound booth, and gave instructions to a waiter, who instantly informed the respectable: “Guys, please, the police tell us that people who are not drinking have to wear the mask. ” Most obeyed, but the effect lasted only a few minutes.

Around 9:00 p.m., the agents were taking data and issuing fines to those who insisted on disobeying. “I don’t have documentation,” a kid who had been told to stay still against a wall was trying to get away. At 9:40 p.m., the lights came on, at 9:45 p.m., the music was turned off. At 22:00, everyone was out, in euphoric little groups, although there were also crying and attempts at confrontation (always verbal), common outside of children’s discos, even when there is no health alert. An alarmed neighbor pointed out to the national police that there was a young woman sprawled on the sidewalk, drunk.

The afternoon had gone relatively well, given the circumstances, at least compared to the night before. “They were friends of the DJ, it was nine seconds, I don’t know if they had it planned, but they all got up until the doorman arrived,” explained a waiter the event the day before. The same version was that of Camila, 18, who claimed to be the daughter of a cousin of the Barceló owners, the Trapote family, also owners of Joy Eslava, another of the classic discos in the center. “I made my presentation in society here and my sister also,” he used as an argument. Camila alleged that Thursday’s video was recorded by the DJ, by the name of Alfonso, a boy who is getting started with mixing tables and who was able to play at the Barceló because of his parents’ friendship with the owners. He also identified from the images one of the offspring of the owner of the clothing brand Don Algodón.

Camila and her friend Asun defended, with their tongues a bit stuck, Barceló’s security measures (“not because it’s my family”) and opposed that there are many places open at night in Madrid that monitor hygiene less. They spoke of biting the police in other places (without evidence), and they accepted a part of the blame for their behavior: “It is true that we have gone out in many places and we have been irresponsible.” Both passed the COVID, Asun came to sleep one night in the hospital. But Camila had not left since November and today her sister had her birthday. “They have fined her for not wearing the mask,” he confessed, and assured that the owners were devastated by what happened the day before, especially the patriarch, Pedro Trapote, and that they plan to close the premises for a few months. Two police motorcycles approached: “You have to go now.” A French girl had already proposed in English whoever was there to go to another place.


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