On Saturday morning the party began before I even got out of bed. I heard it in the street. The heat and the voices floated in through the balcony doors and made it all the way to my windowless cave of a room. As tired as I was the sounds from the street me habían enganchado. They hooked me. Snagged me and pulled me out of bed and to the window. A party indeed. A parade in fact. It was on a street perpendicular to our street, so from the balcony I could just see a sliver of it as it passed by.
The party continued at night with a free concert in Casa del Campo. The headliner Goran Bregovic played for almost two hours, indulging the crowd in every encore it asked for. And while I was hanging out, listening to some awesome Balkan music, I could see the fireworks going off over Retiro Park–another party–on the other side of the city. It was pretty cool.
And after the concert the party continued still. We walked up Calle Segovia turned onto Cuesta de Los Ciegos. I had never seen so many people in the streets. They were everywhere: sitting on the steps, in the grass. Drinking beer, vodka, you name it. (This phenomenon in Spanish is called a botellón–it’s a huge outdoor pregame.) But I had never seen a botellón like this. And as we walked it never thinned out. People were everywhere. In La Latina café tables were full and groups of people were sitting on the ground in the plazas. Drinking in public spaces is technically illegal, but who was going to stop this epic party?
The way people take to the streets here is amazing. It’s not just about the partying or the protesting. It’s about the culture. And it enchants.