A Culture of Interconnectivity
By: Ginnie Revenaugh
There’s something special about seaside towns: some unspoken commandment requiring the people to be friendly, laid back, smiley. Barcelona has vibes like this, with vast stretches of beaches full of vendors (even in the middle of the February off-season) selling mojitos, supposedly hand-crafted blankets, and the adrenaline-filled Segway rides. It’s located just south of the sprawling Pyrenees Mountains, and the light, open streets allow the soft sun and breeze to accompany your perusal around the city. Funky cafes with discordant furniture and random wall art contribute to the slow, easy atmosphere.
But there’s more to Barcelona than the Mediterranean — there’s also a strong art scene, with artists like Antoni Gaudi and Salvador Dali finding their muse amidst the vibrant Catalon culture. Gaudi’s architecture can be found all around the city, from public parks with lizard statues and ginger bread-like groundskeeper homes, to the simple concept of apartment buildings transformed into beautiful ceramic staircases and curving rooftops. And, the infamous Sagrada Familia, which is an intricate and incredibly unique cathedral planned by Gaudi in 1883 that won’t be finished until 2026. It has tall, spiraling columns inside, with branch-like tendrils extending onto the ceiling. Its lofty ceilings allow the light to shine in from stained glass that reflect different colors depending on the time of day.
Alongside the beach and the art is a thriving dance culture, where the night life (or should I say morning life, since things don’t get going until 1AM) is bumping. Beach-side night clubs with plushy outdoor seating and outrageously overpriced drinks are abundant. While hip-hop club music is fun, even better is the traditional Flamenco dance. Flamenco is full of feeling, a dance that entails passionate strumming of the guitar and the occasional throaty bellowing of the song lyrics. To my unexperienced eyes, the dance resembles random stomping and tap dance-like movements, but it’s evident that the movements stem from raw, unfiltered, and unadulterated emotion. It’s beautiful, moving, honest, and real.
But, perhaps the most special aspect of this city is its culture of interconnectivity. Community is important in Barcelona, where tapas nights of appetizers and drinks with close friends continue into the wee hours of the morning. Afternoon coffee dates are common, as is collecting with your friends around a television during a football match, jumping ecstatically or screaming furiously at the screen — together. Barcelona has a culture where “together” is prioritized above all else.
I experienced this togetherness with fifty of my peers while on a trip with our school. Somehow we all made it to the same spot on the beach, and the afternoon was spent in what seemed like an hours long “movie moment,” as happy-go-lucky music played in the background and frisbees flew overhead. We danced until there were crowds watching in amusement, soaked up the sun on our vitamin D-lacking skin, failed at handstands in the sand, and simply enjoyed the company of one another. We were so swept up by the culture of interconnectivity that we didn’t care who our set “groups” were or what else we could be doing around the city. We were simply content to be there, to be in the moment — together.
That is what Barcelona is. It’s sunshine and beaches, architecture and dance, but it’s infinitely more than that. It’s warm, open, and people-prioritizing. It’s a place that makes you appreciate what you have and who you have, a place that makes it easy to ignore writing papers or working overtime in order to invest in what truly matters. It makes people more important than success or perfection. Beaches, art, and clubbing can be great things, but the people you do it with are infinitely cooler. Barcelona will teach you that.