[Hm. Just started to read this and realised that it’s rather rambling and perhaps politically incorrect. Let it be. Comments and corrections welcomed.]
This was the scene outside the cafés and bars outside my hotel (Hotel Norté y Londres: how could I not stay there?) It’s a hopeless ‘photo of course and I didn’t ask my neighbours’ permission to take it or use it but they were happy talking and drinking a little and in the lovely warmth of the late evening that area on the right was very rarely as empty as that with a constant stream of couples, families, friends going by. Most couples held hands and I didn’t really see anyone who looked frankly unhappy. There’s clearly a wish to be seen by many, many have dressed up to walk out I’m sure, or it looked that way to me. I’m sure it’s an outsider oversimplifying, and of course I didn’t see the people who choose not to be there, but it felt very relaxed for all the seeing and being seen. I saw almost no overt comments on each other’s clothes or appearance.
Talking of who wasn’t there: it did feel very much as it were a heterosexual arena. I’d say I saw a couple of gay guys, actually followed by a third on his own who I’d guess was gay. My gaydar isn’t that great and I hate the whole idea of having one and have finally really gotten to the point where I can ask completely levelly, “male or female of the species” if someone is talking about a partner and if I feel it’s useful for me to know. Mostly it felt great but it would have felt even better had it felt less as if some of the being seen was about being seen to be part of a heterosexual coupling, reproducing mass of humanity. Anyone out there Spanish or just familiar with the sort of “café” culture I’m talking about, and I’d say I’ve seen it sometimes in the UK, sometimes (more often) in France, very definitely in Italy and Greece and in Croatia.
I was very happy with a very small tapas and a couple of beers and I’m sure it helped me sleep well though I think I can vouch for the happy noise continuing for some hours into the morning as the man at the hotel desk told me it would. Waking to particularly loud shouts somehow wasn’t irritating and I could go straight back to sleep. Hooray!