Sunday, October 04, 2015

Barcelona's Jazz & Food Festival: Stereotypically Spanish Disorganization or Where NOT to go in Barcelona

Jazz & Food Poblenou 2015In general I love Barcelona and my life here, but I do have to have an honest, not-so-happy-go-lucky post once in a while. Marina, her sister Elisa and their friends and I decided to check out the Jazz & Food Festival in Poblenou on Saturday night. It's a 12 hour festival finishing at midnight, and we arrived around 8:30 pm to a disorganized disaster. (They claim that this is the last and "best" day of the Voll-Damm week long festival).

1) There was NO JAZZ.  Spain, I understand that you tend to stick to the unfortunate stereotype that the country is disorganized and inefficient, but seriously?!  They were playing "gypsy music" --Marina and I are not sure if this is at all the politically correct term, but that's what was displayed on the giant projector screens. Basically it was eclectic, sometimes off-tune and genre-less. 

2) There was NO FOOD.  That's right, they ran out of food. Remember, Spanish people eat at 10pm, so expecting food at 8:30 is not unreasonable. Not only did they run out, they continued to sell "tokens" and did not put any sort of sign up that they were sold-out. Marina and I were lucky enough to find out because we tried to ask for vegetarian food. The other people were queueing for a long time.  Even if we had gotten food, it was about three times the price it normally should have been.

Except for the Ramen stand, where you had to pay 5 euros for a bowl of ramen, but queue until you could get a seat. There was enough seating for SEVEN people. Yup.

3) There was NOWHERE TO QUEUE.  This is very Spanish anyway (think: the metro), but really - you had no idea which line was for what. 

4) There were NO RETURNS ON TOKENS.  That's right, we're out of food, but you can't return the tokens (minimum 10 euro spend to even BUY a token).  We ended up in a queue of tens of people complaining that they want to return the tokens they had bought minutes before. The lady at the desk answered in Catalan and basically said the only way to get your money back would be to either spend it all on drinks, or write a letter to the organizers and ask for the money. Ha. Like that would even work in Spain. Luckily, we sold our remaining tokens to drunk people in the drinks queue.

Yes, a bit of grumpy post. I had an incredibly long and stressful week (data collection, yay) and was really looking forward to a Saturday night out.  I guess I'll have to check out some real jazz spots in Barcelona ---stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

What a bunch of clichés!

1. "They claim that this is the last and "best" day of the Voll-Damm week long festival".
Last day? Very easy to check out the truth:

2. "There was NO JAZZ. Spain, I understand that you tend to stick to the unfortunate stereotype that the country is disorganized and inefficient, but seriously?! They were playing 'gypsy music'".
Ha! Gipsy or klezmer music are no jazz (sorry, Django Reinhardt and so many others). Soul music is no jazz. 12 hours (from 12 to 12) and you arrived, you say, at 8.30pm. And you can say it was a disorganized disaster.

3. Tokens were returned. And yes, some people decided instead to give away their spare tokens to ONGs.

4. And last but not least, it's a very racist post. Yes, people here speak Catalan or Spanish, and a lot of people English and other languages. So take it easy.

And yes, you really had a grumpy week. Next time, keep your good karma and good vibes at home.

Anonymous said...


Yo leí tu post y te comprendí totalmente. Aparte de la opinión musical, mi experiencia en cuanto a la consumición de bebidas y comida fue la misma. Yo fui al mediodía y ya estaba bastante saturado, pero por la noche, con el triple de público y la mitad de paradas, básicamente era un desastre organizativo y una experiencia pésima como asistente. El sistema de Tokens es una técnica de venta, pura y simplemente, perjudicial para el consumidor y beneficiosa para los organizadores, no hay más.

La persona que te ha contestado y que no ha firmado es de comunicación o redes sociales del Festival, alguien que lleva el Twitter, porque a mí me dijo lo mismo ayer por la noche. Bueno, me invitó con muy malas maneras a enviar un correo con mis quejas a The Project, que supongo es una productora (no me informó de quienes eran, dio por supuesto que lo tenía que saber). En definitiva el Festival no asume ninguna responsabilidad. No creo que hubiera pasado lo mismo si mis comentarios hubieran sido elogios. Además Es indignante que ni se disculpen. No sé qué política de comunicación es esta, de acoso y burla a los propios asistentes de su Festival.

En fin, ya sé a qué festival no iré.

Gracias por tu testimonio.

Una indignada,

Anonymous said...

Ah, se me olvidaba, además, borraron los tweets que intercambiamos en que mencioné las colas, la desorganización y la falta de información, entre otros.

Una indignada

Anonymous said...

To the first person who commented,

There is one thing I agree with you on about this post.
This post played on a number of stereotypes that Spain is inefficient, and that is a cliche that shouldn´t be used, you're right.
But let me comment on a few things that I, as a Spanish, but also racial minority, will like to argue. (I also went to the festival- and experienced very similar things as the writer).

1) I have no comment on this point.

2) That's exactly what the writer said. That this kind of music is not jazz- and therefore, it was false advertisement. And I'm sure, you say that someone should be there for TWELVE hours to say that it was disorganized? Are you kidding? I think being there at 8.30 on a Saturday until midnight (a total of 3 and a half hours) on a SATURDAY, is reasonable to expect some jazz as advertised. Why are you defensive? People who were there earlier have told me that there was no jazz being played on this day.

3) My tokens weren't returned as well. YOU can claim that tokens were returned or that they were offered as donations. Why wasn't this suggestion offered to the writer, or to myself? Your point actually drives home the point that this was inefficient and different things were said to different people.

4) Stop using the word racist, when you don't know what it means. Racist comes with discrimination and systematic oppression of those who are not powerful. White people in white contexts do not experience this. Prejudice, sure. To say Spain is inefficient and disorganized is also not something I agree with, because it is often used by other powerful groups to dismiss the Spanish. Though I understand that Catalan has been oppressed and is wonderful to use, this was not the time or the context. Those who are speaking in Castellano (I witnessed minorities, South Americans, and tourists) to give back tokens and to get back money should not be insisted on to speak in Catalan, when we know that those who speak Catalan can usually speak Castellano. It was deliberately unkind.

So, again, stop being defensive and stop making it sound like racism is actually something that actually happens to white people like the Spanish in Spain.

Sapna said...

Thanks for your comments. To the first commenter:

- I maintain that a Jazz Festival should have jazz music. I agree with the above post that 3.5 hours is more than enough time to experience a festival.
- Not everything in Spain is disorganized, or false advertisement, but this event definitely was
- I was in no way intending to make a racist comment. I know many languages are spoken in Barcelona, including the 3 that I speak, and I was happy to speak fluent Spanish to the people serving the event and do my best to understand Catalan. As the person aboves says, people speaking all three languages were trying to return their tokens to no avail.

- No one gave us the option to donate tokens to an ONG when the food ran out. In fact, I was told to "spend it on drinks" or "write a letter to the organizers"

Sapna said...

Muchas gracias por escribir sobre tu experiencia!