The party filled the streets for a ten block radius in Madrid’s gay barrio Chueca. The bars served mojitos, kalimotxos, and beer from their doorways. Dance beats fought with each other and with the revelers’ shouts for dominance of the available sound waves. Drunken partiers in apartments above the bars threw water down on the crowd, which threw ice cubes back up at the partiers.
When a popular song came on, everyone forgot their conversations and sang along, jumping up and down. Alcohol bounced out of cups onto bare skin or fashionable clothing. Down the centre of every street ran a small river of booze, water and piss. Those who’d worn sandals cursed themselves for fools and vowed to throw the sandals out the moment they got home.
Through all this the people moved, sometimes flowing as easily as the liquids under their feet. Most of the time, however, the movement occurred in spurts, two opposing currents crashes together allowing only the dedicated or supremely drunk to slip through the cracks.
I also moved through all this, increasingly tense and annoyed at the general level of public inebriation. I don’t like outdoor crowds, especially ones packed into narrow streets. In my head such crowds turn into mobs and I drown in a sea of people pummeled by the waves of feet pounding over me.
Usually I don’t put myself in this sort of situation, but I wanted to be with my friends, so had to accept the crowds as part of the deal. Since I couldn’t change the situation I decided to change my perceptions. Instead of fight the crowds, the noise, and the music, I merged with them. I use the changing beats to dance myself from tiny opening to tiny opening. I bounced off people pushing past me and I used the stumbling drunks to shield me from flying beverages.
I still didn’t like it and would rather have been somewhere where I could have watched the crowd without having to interact with it, but I didn’t let it ruin my night.
- When you can’t change your situation, change your attitude.
- Don’t expect a one-time change in attitude to have lasting effects, but do enjoy the short term advantages.