There´s a new phenomenon in Spain. It´s called the Botellon. It´s huge. There´s a Botellón in most Spanish cities every night and probably there are no Spaniards under 25 who have never been to one.   Most go to a botellon over once a week.  What is a “Botellón”. A Botellon is a user generated bar. A bar that is improvised in a predefined place, say a park to which tons of people, many times over 1000 people, take drinks with them and give them to friends, friends of friends and sometimes to strangers. I am now in Palma de Mallorca and there is one very near the marina where my sailboat is at. It is a truly remarkable gathering, something that would probably not be allowed to take place in most countries other than highly permissive Spain (where we have Gay Marriage, legal P2P, gambling, prostitution, overall a highly tolerant society paradise to some, hell to others). For some in Spain Botellones are a horrible fad. Personally I am intrigued by them. In my Spanish blog there´s an article about them  and why they take place and readers wrote many explanations. The most common reason as to why people would prepare all sorts of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, cut lemon and lime, bring glasses, and be so kind to others is because for the price of a gin tonic at a disco they can get a whole bottle at the Botellon. Still that does not explain why drink donors would give them away as there never any money charged for drinks.  In my view the economic element is only part of the story. I think people are fascinated by the anarchic, social nature of botellones, they like to move around without the constraints and rules of a bar or disco. They like to meet their friends and run into old friends or even people they don´t know.  Botellones are like the social sites on the internet…live.   Bar and disco impresarios are extremely upset about the Botellones and try to lobby to make them illegal.  The three big negatives are noise from the street to people who live nearby, the abuse of alcohol and the fact that the very 2.0 attitude of creating a user generated bar ends when it gets time to clean up.  All these issues need to be addressed so Botellones can coexist well with the rest of Spanish society not involved in them.

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Simon on August 5, 2007  · 

Never heard of any “Botellones” in Denmark, but sounds like a lot of fun.
But I probably wouldn’t take drinks from strangers though, mostly because of all the stories about people getting poisoned because of idiots putting all kinds of things in drinks just to have fun.
I can imagine that happen often to these kinds of events – or is that not true?

(where we have Gay Marriage, legal P2P, gambling, prostitution, overall a highly tolerant society paradise to some, hell to others)

So which one are you, the paradise or hell-guy?

Personally I think “legal P2P” should be illegal, no doubt about that.
Music, movies, and what else you share are products, not a human right.
That a government makes it legal to share files that people own the rights to and wan’t money for, I think is just pure stupidity.
That some don’t have alot of money, and others don’t wan’t pay “rich americans”, which I remember you saying, does NOT make it right not to pay for it.

If I think Donald Trump has enough money, and I don’t like him, it doesn’t give me the right to stay free at his hotels.

But I’m interested in hearing why you think legal sharing of music and movies is good, and what you think of Spains high-tolerance – if you have the time to answer of course 🙂

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David Verde on August 5, 2007  · 

When I was in Switzerland as an exchange student, together with my friends we pioneered the botellon, before it was a well known phenomenon in Spain. The reason was simple, as you mention in your post, a drink inside a club was 2 times more expensive than a bottle of Whisky in the supermarket.

We usually gather at the parking lot outside a club, to have our drinks and fun before entering the club. Being Switzerland such a calm country, a group of noisy drunk Spaniards, Italians and English was something to observe. lots of people came around and we shared our drinks. it was great time, and we didn’t bother anybody, as we didn’t drink in town, but on the outskirts, and we will cleanup absolutely everything when we had finish.

Today’s kids don’t care much, they are a big nuisance to the neighbors and the areas they squat are declared catastrophic.

Could those botellones be organized in second life?

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Nia on August 6, 2007  · 

Maybe I didn’t understand it right, but I would like to make clear that P2P, botellon and prostitution are not legal in Spain.Spanish law doesn’t allow these practices, eventhough it is true there is a high tolerance about them.

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Martin Varsavsky on August 6, 2007  · 


I loved the Second Life suggestion!

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Martin Varsavsky on August 6, 2007  · 

Hi Simon, I am mostly in favor of everything that goes on in Spain but I am a bit concerned about the P2P thing because as opposed to most in Spain I believe that if people get paid for producing English culture (i.e. Americans fight P2P) and we dont in Spain then our already low cultural production will go even down further. Or worse, we will only get government sponsored culture.

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Martin Varsavsky on August 6, 2007  · 

Nia, P2P is legal if done for private use.

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Jawy on August 8, 2007  · 

I´m from Spain and, some years ago, the goverment made Botellones ilegal. Yo can get at least a 300€ ticket plus a “The risks of alcohol” course if you get busted drinking alcohol outdoors in Spain. Of course, this is a national law, but it seems that most of the cities dont care about this stupid law, just the big ones: Madrid, Barcelona, etc…

This new law was set after the goverment realised that teenagers started drinking alcohol at really low ages. I think that´s just bull-crap. I think this whole thing turned to be ilegal just to earn votes in the elections. Many neighbours and concerned parents were always complainig about noise, rubish and, of course, the risk of their children to become alcoholic. I believe that if you educate your children in the right way, there will not be any needs of making the act of drinking a can of beer something ilegal.

What about smoking? Isnt it even more harmful than drinking? At least, drinking doesnt affect the person next to you. But, hey, the goverment makes much more money from something that has half its price in taxes. Right?

Think about who should decide if something is right or wrong.

Thanks for your reading.

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ZeYt on August 8, 2007  · 

#3 Im from Spain and Botellon is allowed in most of the parts of Spain. You cant drink on the streets in Madrid and Barcelona but in special days like oficcial parties it is allowed.
Prostitution isnt allowed but it is not beeing fighted by the police so …
So you can drink in the street perfect on the parks in Madrid but if the police appear you must put your drinks in your bags and move fast to another place “not run” and they will not say nothing to you. If they caught you the will fine you with 300€ or you can go to a meeting of 5h and no pay.
So thats the true Botellon rocks with lot of people in a park and you spent less money than in discos or pubs. The only problem i see is that in the north of Europe you probably will be cold in the street.
Have a nice day!

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Rebeca on August 9, 2007  · 

Hi all,

I’m Spanish and I would like to remarck some questions:

In Spain, prostitution is not prohibited, although there is not legal regulation about it; government simply ignores the prostitution as if it didn’t exist. Proxenetism (to force somebody to work as a prostitute) is banned and prosecuted. I think that the legal position of Government in this question is hypocritical because they always think that women work freely in prostitution (even those who work on the streets) and police does not investigate if prostitutes are bound until there is an accusation about it.

P2P is legal only for private and non-lucrative use, but the Spanish organization SGAE (a powerful society of authors and interpreters) pretends to establish a fee to pay to them every time you buy an inkjet, a virgin CD or an ipod. There is a public debate about it because you can use inkjets, CD’s or ipods to copy documents that have no Copyright specifications.

Gay marriages are completely legal and gay people have just the same rights as the other people – thanks ZP!

Botellon is, like I explained at , a kitsch phenomenon in Spanish society. I do appreciate the sensation of freedom when you are alone with your friends in a park at a summer night, but it has become a huge tacky alcoholic spectacle. I do not like botellones because of their aesthetic effects (people rounding around like oranguthangs), not fot the ethical ones (insanity, anarchia, acoustic pollution and that boring stuff).

Thank you all for reading.

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