Maig 37 – Barcelona part 1

Last night I had a dream. I have very little recollection of it but I do know that I woke from it and thought very clearly the words: “I must go to the borders of Italy and Greece and work with people there.” Then I went back to sleep.

Sun 4th October

I am now at Can Masdeu watching surreal circus cabaret like something fallen straight out of a David Lynch film and onto the Collserola Hillside behind Barcelona. The current act is a man wearing white eyeliner and an elaborate entanglement of wires, making geometric shapes with long thin bendy sticks, dancing slowly to the trippy percussion band, made up of autistic men. I´m looking forward to the aerial performance sure to be happening soon. A trapeze dangles enticingly in front of me.

Funnily enough, on the way up the hill Alex and I had been discussing aerial skills and he had confided to me that he has a growing obsession with silks. I have been learning trapeze for a few years now and find it very difficult to train while traveling, for fairly obvious reasons. How delighted we were then when we were told about a circus squat here in Barcelona where anyone can go and train for free! We were so excited by this prospect we did some handstands and invented our own blend of contact-yoga-tree-climb-dance.

I´m not actually staying at Can Masdeu. Me, Alex and some other English people who came for the conference are staying in another squat nearer the centre of town, “Maig 37“. It´s beautiful too – a rambling old 100 year old house, one of few remaining in a very gentrified area. It has been occupied as a squat for a year and a half after being left empty as the result of a family fallout. Tragically a construction company has bought it. They have received an eviction notice for the end of this month and all this beauty and history will soon be laid to waste in a pile of rubble.

Apparently Barcelona has around fifty squats. Unlike most I´ve seen in the UK, these are so far very well kept and organised. They are also beautifully decorated and inhabited by some very lovely people. There is lots going on in them too. A programme with the activities of all of the social squats in town is pinned to the door of each, so our activities in the evenings have been mostly worked out from these.

On Friday evening there was a party in Maig 37. On Saturday we watched films in the park outside a recently evicted squat near the conference. The film was in Italian with Spanish subtitles and we English speakers gathered in a huddle to hear Katya translate for us. It was the story of the treacherous journey made by two Eritrean migrants into Spain. A shame the squat has been evicted, it looked a good one – another crumbling old extended family home with a depiction on the outside wall of what could well have been Thor forging a squat sign on his anvil.

Tues 6th October

Last night we (well, Emma mostly) cooked dinner for our hosts in Maig 37, where they have said those of us remaining can stay until Thursday. Perfect for me as I´ve received word that Can Masdeu can squeeze me in after all from Thursday til Sunday, so I will stay in Barcelona til Sunday. I have plenty to fill my time til then. Yesterday Alex and I went in search of the circus squat. It was AMAZING! They have loads of trapezes, silks, rope, tightrope, juggling stuff, a kitchen and a free shop. Anyone can go and train between 11am and 11pm every day and they also have classes in silks, trapeze and capoeira. We spent a few hours in there yesterday and I gave Alex an aerial class. He is now “one with the silks” and wants to run away with the circus. Wouldn´t put it past him either.

Weds 7th October

I´m reclining in the purple hammock swinging from two trees in the garden courtyard of Maig 37. Alex and his newly shaved head (minus little tuft at the back) are sitting beside me reading ´La Burxa´. The paper is written in Catalan and Alex only speaks Castilian Spanish, but he seems able to read it even so.

Alex has been trying to leave Barcelona for a few days now. Each morning he packs his bag and leaves the squat with the firm intention that he will get the bus to Paris that night. But it´s exciting here and there´s so much going on and it´s better to hitchhike anyway… why not leave early next morning instead? Oh, but the circus squat with the silks! Must have another go there first and then think about leaving…

Last night he pondered out loud if he might get a job in Juicy Jones, the vegan restaurant we ate in last night. He had noticed a sign in the window about a vacancy. This morning´s newly shaved head is for looking more respectable for a job application. I hope I have better luck than this when I try to leave Barcelona on Sunday!

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