Bitchy it not my middle name but it could be. Sorely unsatisfied with what is to be found en el ambiente (on the scene), I’ve dissected clubs after clubs, dying to find where my people were at. The perroflautas-hippy-arty gay scene continuously eluding me, I almost called it quits. Madrid, maybe, just isn’t the place for me.
Wednesday night, I receive a call and I’m asked to get off my sorry arse and to make my way to Lavapiés. There, I’m brought to a door, a door like any other door, hidden behind gates as if protected. There are no signs, no names, nothing; nothing but a buzzer to ring and the wait that comes with it. My friend nudges me and I ring the bell. Knowing him, I expect the worst: an underwear party, a drag orgy, a Glee marathon…
A former clown opens the door, ajar at first. He is a little fidgety; he looks right and left, his mousy nose sniffing the air while I stand there wondering if he’s going to let me in or not – if I even want him to let me him! He looks at me now, quickly judging my attire and my demeanor. He ushers me in. And in a swoop, I ascend. I’m somewhere else entirely. In a land where mobiles phones don’t ring, where plasma TVs are an aberration, where Lady Gaga is nothing but a distant memory, a relic from a childhood dream.
Going through the threshold was like time travelling, escaping the reality of our chrome and shiny advanced world and returning to the joyful innocence of the seventies. The place in itself is a random mismatch of furniture put together by scavengers: No two chairs are alike, the bar – too grand a word for what is little more than your nan’s kitchenette – is cornered away as though only there by mistake. Clenching your thirst is not their main priority; their purpose is grandeur. There is a little staircase leading to a mezzanine where people are congregating. It’s in this peaceful and cozy atmosphere that I heard my first Spanish sonnet. That’s right, people gather there to read poetry; they evade the police, hide away and read aloud the most beautiful of words. Not a sound is to be heard but the words themselves floating in the void, shaking your core and awakening your senses. (Am I overselling it?) (No, you’re engrossed – the Editor)
This underground temple forgotten by time itself is a haven of literature where all you have to do is sit and take it all in. Completely and justifiably off the grid, I swore to secrecy.
I cannot tell you where this place is but I can tell you that it exists.
No gays were to be found there (unsurprisingly!) but for once this fairy tells you that he didn’t care and urges you to go searching, to go off the beaten track, to dig deeper into Madrid’s beating heart and reminds you of the words of Federico Garcia Lorca:
“I was lucky enough to see with my own eyes the recent stock-market crash, where they lost several million dollars, a rabble of dead money that went sliding off into the sea.”