Spain's Indoor Smoking Ban and The Rise of a New Delinquent Class

It was the summer before my junior year of college and I was still a naïve, alcoholically-untrained American. I couldn't legally drink in the US and Yale has an alcohol culture that could be best described as: almost-trying; this basically means that I was a rookie, not a professional drunk like the one I would later become in Korea. It also doesn't help (or maybe it does, only time and my liver will tell) that during most summer nights in Spain I budgeted myself to 30 euros, but Granada is small and my skin color meant that even would-be Spanish muggers crossed the street when they saw me smirking with my hands in my trench coat, so I saved lots because I always walked, no matter the time of night and no matter through which neighborhood.

30 euros meant that I could buy a gram of weed and quite a few beers. My preferred hangout was La Perra Gorda -- a pub in a seedy alley that always played classic metal -- because the place had the cheapest beer around. Granada is a university city and during the summer the place is as hot as a desert, so most people go south to the coast of Spain. I'm not much a fan of sunlight or sand, so I spent the whole summer hitting up La Perra Gorda. What made La Perra special was that you could light up inside the place; this was before the smoking ban in Spain.

I couldn't smoke at home, so La Perra was my escape, the place where I could drink on the cheap, play pool with Moroccan hash dealers, and smoke the night away. There were never any incidents and I never saw any cops, so people just lit up and had a fun time. 

After La Perra Gorda I would usually head over to Mae West Nightclub, the preppiest, most racist (and therefore most exclusive) place in Granada. None of the hippies and metalheads went to Mae West, so I had a different set of friends there. 

The people of Granada are friendly, but they've also grown up with the same small group of friends so they usually just hang out with their own cliques. My buddies at Mae West were two Brazilians and a Nicaraguan. The Brazilians had a coke habit, but that's not why we fell out. 

Apparently you don't want to have a fight inside of Mae West because the bouncers (or gorilas as they are more appropriately referred to by Spaniards) are the aggressive type who pounce on anyone who disrespects them inside. So while a fight could have always broken out inside of La Perra Gorda with few consequences for the perpetrators because there was no bouncer, everyone was simply mellowed out on weed and playing Foosball, darts, or pool.

At Mae West you got the narcissistic, steroid-pumping, pink-polo-and-collar-popping, coke-snorting preppy. I feel like there was always some sort of tension, especially because Granada is not the most enlightened place when it comes to accepting outsiders taking their women.

The two Brazilians would always stand at the entrance to one of the dance floors, grabbing the asses and breasts of all the women that passed by. The Nicaraguan and I would just stand at the other side of the entrance, mellowed out and chatting people up. I never saw the Brazilians get laid, so I knew their strategy was not only illegal, but also spooked the rest of the women who had seen them at work. If I were a woman, I'd expect them to be the kind of guys who would pop it in my ass when I'm expecting action in the pussy.

But anyway, one of the Brazilians didn't show up during one of the times we went there, so it was just one of them grabbing ass and tits and giggling while he wiped the coke dripping from his nose. He was also the skinny Brazilian, while the other one was probably pumping steroids.

The night ends and once we make our way out into the sunrise, a group of Granadinos approach the Brazilian and tell him: "You grabbed our girlfriends' asses." He was coked out of his mind and just mumbled, but the 5 Spaniards started pouncing on his face and torso, eventually knocking him down. He got his face pounded in good, and when he got up, he wasn't pissed off at the Spanish guys. He was pissed of at the Nicaraguan and at me for not helping him. 

Personally, I think the beating did him good because during the rest of the summer, he avoided harassing more women. After the fight, he didn't consider the Nicaraguan or me to be his friends because we didn't have his back, but I learned my lesson about going out; as the Spanish saying goes, "it's best to be alone than badly accompanied."

Of course, I would forget that proverb in Korea, but Korea is not the real world so it doesn't matter. I went away to Korea for two years, nights during which alcohol alone turned my entire neighborhood into coked-out Brazilians, so eventually I needed a break in the form of some smoking and playing pool at La Perra Gorda.

Sadly, the socialist government had passed an indoor smoking ban, so lighting up a spliff was no longer possible. People still smoked, but it was outside of La Perra Gorda, in the seedy alleys surrounding the place, where everyone was easy prey to the Spanish police. Every once in a while, the police came around and ticketed people for smoking weed or hash outdoors. Most people also had drinks, so that was another ticket for drinking in public. The smoking ban not only killed the business, it also created a new class of delinquent. My whole time in Korea I wanted nothing more than to head to La Perra and light a spliff, but when I returned, I was met with a city and country that had changed. 

The socialist government killed the safe fun and created a ripe environment for the increasing fascism brought on by the conservative government elected shortly after the smoking ban.