I first went to Barcelona with a group of school friends in my second year of university. We immediately fell in love with the city – it’s beautiful and creative architecture, vibrant atmosphere and true Catalonian style – and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves making promises to go back and live there.
While we truly immersed ourselves in the cultural whirlwind of the city, it would be a lie to say that we didn’t also play the part of the pasty white Brits, soaking up the sun, cheap alcohol and late night party life of Spain. We signed up for weeklong passes to a bar crawl, from which we more than got our monies-worth. In fact, it was so good that I decided to go back the next year and work for them.
The Summer Job Decision
It was coming up to the end of my degree and, although I’d always planned to visit South America after university, my lack of funds and the offer to spend the summer on the beaches of my beloved Barcelona was pointing me in a different direction.
Choosing to be a promoter, no matter where in the world you are, should always be a carefully considered decision. You have to love to party, be excited about always meeting new people, and be able to tolerate a large amount of alcohol. While I figured I had this covered, I didn’t take into account the simultaneously working a full-time job aspect, and made myself very ill.
And it wasn’t just me: the appropriately named ‘Barcelona death cough’ seemed to be a common ailment for everyone on the team…
However, if you think you can handle it, it’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. It will take you to hell and back, but you’ll make lifelong friends, see a new part of the world and meet a whole plethora of weird, wonderful and fabulous people.
Expert Advice On Barcelona’s Beaches
One of the parts of my job involved promoting to tourists on the beach. Although it was rarely fruitful – as very few people carry spare cash in their swimsuits and our managers ‘walk with them to the cash point’ idea naturally went down terribly – it did give me an in-depth understanding of Barcelona’s beaches.
Depending on where you’re staying, it’s highly likely you’ll arrive at the Barceloneta section of the shore. It’s well signposted and accessible via a metro stop of the same name. However, if you aren’t sure, look to your right, and there should be a large conical building with a ‘W’ on.
While these sands are by far the busiest, and the most touristic, it’s the best place to truly experience the buzz of Barcelona’s summer. Mojito sellers are on hand to provide drinks that have probably never seen alcohol, and there’s a whole host of other entrepreneurs offering rugs, fabric, and other bric-a-brac.
Also, you may get bugged by a few bar crawl promoters. 😉
If you head further down, however, you’ll find a place that we called ‘Secret Beach.’ It’s located way past the giant statue of the bronze fish, and the harbor, and is only really frequented by locals and tourists from more expensive hotels over that side of the city.
Further on still, you’ll find the nudist beach. It’s pretty socially acceptable to sunbathe topless anywhere in Barcelona, but if you want to be surrounded by other naked people while doing so, then this is the stretch of beach for you.
Bar Crawls On La Rambla
The second part of our job was an evening-time barrage of unsuspecting tourists on the main street of the city – La Rambla. There are countless restaurant Plazas, budget hostels and cheap bars around this area and it’s overrun with eager promoters trying to entice you into their group for the night.
If you don’t want to be hassled then simply stand your ground and move on, but a lot of these promoters are fascinating, well-traveled individuals. So, if you’re feeling brave, stop and have a chat! You might make a new friend.
Regarding Bar Crawl choice, I can 100% biasedly tell you to opt for Bar Crawl Barcelona. I may have worked for them, but I only did so because I enjoyed it so much the first time round. Because of this, I feel like my testimony is genuine!
The Who’s-Who of Barcelona Clubs
If you’re not willing to just blindly follow my advice and want to know a bit more about Barcelona’s nightlife, here’s a basic rundown:
There are two sets of clubs – the beach clubs and La Rambla clubs. The former are notoriously overpriced and cater to traveler’s who want the illusion of high society. This means you have to be well dressed, and can’t wear trainers or beach shoes. Conversely, the La Rambla clubs are much more affordable, casual and are favored by local students and backpackers alike.
In reality, both sets of clubs offer their own unique experience; the choice really only depends on what you’re looking for from your night out.
Whichever you opt for, it’s worth noting that alcohol is extremely expensive in clubs. It’s common practice to visit a bar, to begin with, and not move on until the early hours.
Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to my Barcelona tale. Catalonia, the province, which houses Barcelona, is becoming increasingly dismissive of alcohol tourism. The famously conservative and high-end region fears following in the footsteps of Ibiza, Magaluf, and the other Spanish party islands.
Because of this, we were under constant pressure from the police. Through a loophole, it had been made illegal to sell anything on the beach, so part of the job was ducking and hiding from undercover cops.
Just before I went over, a reporter from the daily mail had found their way onto one of our company’s booze cruises, created a media storm, and caused boat parties of any kind to be banned. (I’d link to the article but I don’t want to give them traffic!)
In fact, somewhat sadly, we had become so notorious that everywhere we went there were undercover police – and mojito sellers with a wicked sense of humor – wearing our promotion T-shirts. All because we we providing travelers with a good time!
Promoting in Barcelona taught me endless life lessons. It was the first time I ever really had to think about the limits of what I could push my body through. It made me understand that being respectful in other countries is essential for the continuation of tourism and, finally, that people come in all kinds of wonderful shapes, sizes, patterns, colors, and shades.
Plus I got to spend a whole summer getting drunk in the sun – which wasn’t bad, really.