Quiet atmosphere in first night of nightclubs outdoor areas allowed until 3 am

Party-goers mostly unaware of loosened restrictions as measures mostly, but not entirely, complied

Some nightclubs in Barcelona's seafront in the early hours of September 23, 2021 (by Blanca Blay)
Some nightclubs in Barcelona's seafront in the early hours of September 23, 2021 (by Blanca Blay) / Guifré Jordan

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

September 23, 2021 02:41 AM

Party went on until much longer than in the past few months in Barcelona's seafront in the early hours of Thursday, the first night in which nightclubs could open their outdoor seating areas until 3 am, two and a half more hours more than until now.

Those in clubs such as Opium and Pacha were very enthusiastic when they learned they could spend more hours in the venues, since a large amount of them were unaware of the loosened restrictions coming into force on Thursday before leaving home.

"It's like getting back to the old days, it's way better," one party-goer dared to say to the Catalan News Agency (ACN) – not quite.

The atmosphere was far quieter than the pre-pandemic usual in Barcelona's seafront even on weekdays, and the most obvious differences were the face mask mandate at all times but for drinking, and the prohibition of dancing – both things mostly, but not entirely, complied in the area.

Also, indoor seating areas of nightclubs had to be emptied at 1 am, taking into account the extra half an hour they have to clear the venue. The government is considering reopening the indoor parts of such businesses until 3 am around October 15, as long as customers show their valid EU Covid certificate. At the moment, dancefloors are banned and indoor spaces can only be used to set tables and chairs for revelers. 

Yet, on Wednesday night, Catalan News witnessed some indoor spaces be cleared at 1 am, but was not granted access to others to confirm it. 

According to the secretary general of Barcelona's nightclubs association, Ramon Mas, the number of nightclubs that decided to reopen until 3 am on the very first night of the loosened restrictions is "very small." Although the restrictions and the fact that it was a weekday could have deterred party-goers, some had to queue for some time to get in nightclubs, especially after 1 am, when indoors seating spaces were cleared.

La Mercè celebrations

The new regulations were announced earlier this week, only a few days before Barcelona and Tarragona celebrate their annual celebrations, La Mercè and Santa Tecla.

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, welcomed the decision from the Catalan government to allow outdoor areas at clubs to open until 3am, but warned that "it will not be enough" to stop mass gatherings of revelers drinking on the streets of the Catalan capital, the so-called 'botellons'. The first big night of La Mercè is the one between Thursday and Friday. 

Speaking to Catalunya Ràdio on Tuesday, Colau said she was "somewhat afraid" of what might happen during the city's La Mercè festivities.

She explained that music events at night during the festival would be open to ticket holders only, with Barcelona and Catalan police helping to enforce the measure.

"I want it to be clear to people that you can't follow the concert from the outside," she said.

Colau added that this year "there won't be street parties" and urged people to enjoy the many daytime activities on offer as well.