Monday, June 1, 2009

From Flamenco and Bongos to Posh Brothel - La Paloma

The streets of the upper Raval have housed a large nightspot for almost 100 years, located on Carrer Tigre, number 27. "La Paloma" was a big old theatre lined with Red velvet and had been entertaining the locals since as far back as 1904 with it's own orchestra (Gardenia Blanca) and was a traditional music hall similar to the nearby El Molino.

La Paloma Barcelona - Barcelona Sights Blog
The introduction of a DJ and Bongo Lounge was born, and when I first got here (1999) the first night at La Paloma was one of the weirdest and most interesting nights out I've ever had here. The place used to open early (for Spanish clubs) and have Flamenco and Ballroom dancing with the old locals dressed to the nines - you would be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped back in time. Some of these older dancers would stay all night - so it was not uncommon to bump into a grandad in the toilet at some point in the night. As the night progressed, the music got a little harder, if that's the right word? i.e. you would have pop, Spanish music, then all kinds of dance music and house music, etc. Everyone dancing below the big chandelier in the middle of the room.

However, due to its proximity to locals' apartments, the complaints about noise and audio pollution were too much for the administration, who were forced to temporarily close by the local council. The owners and management were so confident of having the licence renewed and the ban lifted, that La Paloma continued to appear in all of the guide books published annually, such as Time Out. Rumours flew around the neighbourhood like...well a "paloma"? as to what would become of the space, whilst the local's balconies continued to display their banners in protest. A new Gym? Another club?
The New Paloma - Barcelona Sights blog
The reality is perhaps a little quieter, but surely nothing the locals will have really wanted. The new La Paloma is basically a posh brothel masking as a 2 star hostal. It's advertised as "luxury rooms for couples who want to treat themselves to limitless indulgence...rooms have International Adult Movie channels...discretion always present". There are 2 prices for rooms, 42 Euros and 52 Euros, with no time restrictions and even valet parking. It's a place to take a partner for some fun, so perhaps me using brothel is a little harsh, but I'd like to place a small bet that those prostitutes hanging around Ronda Sant Antonio know the walls a lot better than anyone else. I wonder what the neighbours think about it now?

Comments welcome as ever, guys. Did you go to La Paloma before the change? Can you remember it?! Let me know.

Looking for a good alternative to hostals such as La Paloma? Check out apartments for rent in Barcelona instead. And check out this great Barcelona Guide for a heads up on the main sights the city has to offer.

Thanks to THEFunkyman on flickr for Image of Paloma.


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