Thursday, July 03, 2003


So one of my bestest freinds is in town-- M., who lived upstairs from me and Lurid Archive back in Dryrotsville. She's staying with us, which is very cool, and since she used to live in Barcelona herself she's been showing us some of her old haunts. Last night we ended up wandering the maze of tiny streets near the bottom of the Ramblas, looking for her old local. It was one of the coolest bars I've ever been in: tiny, with green paint on the crumbling walls and red on the low ceiling. The light came from dim lamps with red fringed shades, and from a bright red fluorescent tube overhead. The only consessions to the lush July heat were the open door and two oscillating fans. They were playing Bjork on the crappy CD player. It was awesome.

Not, however, as awesome as the next place we went. It was one of the secret bars that are apparently scattered all over town. I'm surprised that M. was able to find it, even after getting some vague directions off the barman; she'd only been there once before. We walked up and down the street a couple of times, trying to suss out which door to knock on, as guys in yellow overalls hosed down the narrow roads with powerful jets of water. There was almost nothing to indicate that this place was any different from all the other quiet, shuttered homes and businesses in the area, except for the very very faint strains of music coming from inside. We knocked tentatively on the door, and were admitted by the rangey blonde barwoman. Tracking water over the black and white tiled floor, we trooped inside.

The building smelled like Dryrotsville used to smell at the height of the Leaky Bath Catastrophe: damp and musty. We stared at the sculpture hanging over the bar, a three foot long tangle of chains, gas masks and other oddments, while the woman served us three sweating bottles of beer. There were only a couple of other customers. We brushed by them and went to sit in the back, a tiny snug with old, flyspecked mirrors on the walls. Not all the walls were plastered; one was still bare, the great rough stones gleaming with moisture. The light was so dim I could hardly see, coming as it did from only two fittings. One of the bulbs had been covered with streaky reddish paint to subdue it, and was further obscured by a lampshade that seemed to be made from an X-ray of someone's pelvis. The stools and tabled were all quite heavy, and mostly looked to be made of iron. (I tried to take a rubbing of the engraved metal rim of our table, but it didn't come out. Stupid biro. I'm getting some proper brass-rubbing crayons.) On one wall hung a pair of mannequin's legs, clad in black tights, clunky pinkish sandals and a length of (yes) heavy chain. A crucifix fashioned from a lifesize baby doll smirked in one corner, an inverted cross visible on its sooty babygro. We couldn't stay for too long, unfortunately; we left around half-midnight to get the bus home. I was by this time very tipsy and excited, in that jangly overtired way.

It was a great night out.

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