Monday, 15 June 2009

Those Chueca Ni-iiights

Chueca is the "gay" district of Madrid, which is something of a novelty for us (sure there is Frogmore street in Bristol, but as it runs behind the Council House and past the Carling Academy it hardly feels like its own area), and so partly through curiosity and partly through chance we've found ourselves there a couple of times recently. The first time was to look for shoes - the whole of Calle de Augusto is lined with shoe shops - a couple of weeks ago, then on Saturday night we ended up meeting a couple of friends there, Jero and Jose.

It's amazing how, without really noticing it or intending to, a night out in Madrid invariably ends up being a late one. After a day of lesson-planning, backgammon and swimming in our communal pool, we had intended just to pop out for a couple of drinks to get out the house. Naturally we didn't leave until 10.30pm, heading first to Alsono Martinez then wandering down towards Cheuca stopping in a very cosy candlelit bar on Calle Belen called - imaginatively - Cafe Bar Madrid. There we encountered a charming group of English lads, who donated some beer to us when they were summoned to their table in the Indian Restaurant across the road. Meanwhile texts were arriving from Jero giving an approximate e.t.a. of midnight in Plaza Chueca.

Waiting by the Metro exit under skies that threatened a downpour (which would have been pretty welcome - temperatures were around 34 degrees) we admired the different tribes coming and going, holding hands, or just hanging around in the perpetual botellon. Haircuts, fag-hags, drag queens (disappointingly few), kings, emos, bears - in fact calling Chueca a "gay" area seemed to be a bit unfair to all the other genders and sexualities having fun. There were even a few straight couples, like us.
Jose and Jero turned up just before one, and after some fun sharing litros on the pavement and spotting Spanish celebrities who may or may not be out of the closet, we decided to head off to dance. Some things in Spain are cheaper than back in the UK, but nightclub drinks aren't one of them. 21 euros for 3 drinks (one of them a tonic water) - ouch! We boogied on down to some Spanish pop, Kate getting a dancing lesson from the fleet-footed Jero, before heading off to flag a taxi on Gran Via at 3am. Lots of fun and great company. We'd only intended to go for a couple of drinks, but that's the Chueca effect I guess: a general departure from the norm.

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