Catalans are notorious for being a stingy bunch. I’m not making this up – just ask any Spaniard or even Catalan and they will nod in agreement with a chuckle.
Living in New York, as a girl, I was spoiled by free alcohol that seemed to be readily available to me and in excess at bars and clubs. When I moved to Barcelona, I quickly learned to adjust my expectations for receiving free drinks. The economy was in the tanks so people frankly did not have much disposable income. That, coupled with the stinginess of the Catalans, made sure that I never once received a free drink from a stranger my whole year living in Barcelona.
In fact, the Catalans took it one step further – I’ve even been solicited for free drinks in Barcelona.
At the Elrow party, a Catalan guy asked me for a sip of my mojito. I handed him my cup, because, well, I’m a nice person. And also I had him lend me his nose in exchange.
But I did feel a bit like a clown myself after he took a HUGE sip from my drink and I was left with pretty much just ice. Ah, well, at least I got a cool pic out of it…
A month later, at Pacha Barcelona, when my college/NYC friend Jeff and his then-girlfriend were visiting, he bought a table given the low price of table service relative to in the City. That’s when I experienced what it was like to be on the other side of the velvet rope in NYC as a guy.
Soon after we sat down, a guy approached me from the dance floor. I was sitting on the elevated VIP veranda and even though the section was separated partially by a waist-high glass partition, he started chatting me up and giving me attention.
After a couple minutes, Jeff invited him up to join us so he drank with us for free for awhile.
Then he bounced. That’s when it dawned on me: This is what guys feel like when girls chat them up in order to drink for free… And then leave! I was used!
I hope no one takes offense from this piece. I lived in Barcelona long enough to find this quality of theirs to be endearing, and of course stereotypes definitely don’t apply to everyone. My best Catalan friend Ismael is one of the most generous and genuine people I know. I’m writing this piece in good spirits and to poke fun at stereotypes that sometimes turn out to be true. With that said, I do have one last incident for you.
My best facepalm moment dealing with Catalan men and their frugality was when I was at the legendary Berlin club, Berghain, in the summer of 2015.
Up in the Panorama Bar (the upper floor room in Berghain playing minimal techno), I was approached by this Catalan guy. We chatted for a bit and got along quite well due to my Catalan connection. He asked if I wanted a drink, which I graciously accepted (“omg! Is a Catalan guy really buying me a drink?”).
We went to the bar and he placed our orders.
As the bartender was getting our drinks, he reached into his pocket and produced two one euro coins.
Unabashedly, he turned to me: “Do you have some money? I think the drinks are four euros each.”
Taken aback, I shelled out six euros for our drinks. I was appalled but at the same time cracking up inside about stereotypes. I finished my drink and let myself politely disappear into the crowd.
A couple hours later, a Whatsapp text from him came … “Hey beautiful… Where are you… Don’t you want to come over to my place and have nice sex?”
Well, the good music cleared me of my trauma in about 30 seconds, thank god for techno.
For more of my international flirting mishaps, check out A Bulgarian in Delft & A Brazilian in Germany. If you’re interested, also read my opinion how men from different countries hit on girls in clubs.