Daisy Bata is a freelance journalist living and working in Barcelona. Here she interviews Eloisa Blitzer, one of the founders of the queer club night Maricas Maricas, that sprung up in Barcelona a few months ago.
What is Maricas?
Maricas is an LGBTQ+ techno and loving party, currently in Barcelona, but soon to be across Europe. Three of us started it, but it's now a big group of us who are involved.
Why did you choose the name Maricas?
If you translate the name to English, I think it would mean something like faggot. We chose it for various reasons. Firstly, we wanted to take this word that has a lot of bad connotations and reclaim it and transform it into something beautiful.
Like the word queer?
Exactly. And on the funny side it started because Isabella is from Colombia and there they use the word Maricas in the same way as like dude or whatever, so she was using it with us here, and that was quite funny.
Where did Maricas come from?
We were talking about how here in Barcelona we don’t have any gay techno nights out, and actually the gay scene in Barcelona is super big but there are no cool places to go, offering something different from the more mainstream vibes. We wanted to do a house party or something and then we thought, hey, let’s do this for real. It was super important to us that we had really good quality music at the same time as bringing all the queer people in Barcelona together. We had homemade videos as our kind of marketing. First we made them with our friends, and then people started sending them to us. It was insane how many we received, we were so excited! For the first night we had to bring in 200 people to cover the expenses, which we thought was impossible, but when we arrived at 11pm there was a queue around the corner to get in. We were freaking out! We want to move around and go to new places too, not just the same space every time.
I liked it in Mamitas (a club in Barcelona), it felt like a house party with everyone sitting around on cushions in the smoking area, and the non-gendered bathrooms. Is this the vibe you wanted to create?
That’s exactly what we want. We never want it to be a massive party. We feel more like family, like community, we want to know the people that come to our parties and hang out. And we really want to take it outside of Barcelona. That’s our dream, to go to Berlin and London.
Why techno specifically?
When I go out, techno is what I enjoy the most. But it all fell into place really easily. It mattered to me and Isabella a lot, as where we’re both from there are massive rave and techno scenes. It’s always been a place for people that don’t fit the norm, at least it has been for me, and that’s what’s so special about creating a techno queer party. It was born in the gay scene, it has this huge history. We don’t want to be a super shitty techno party either, we’re really selective with the music. It’s weird because you have Sonar here, where people come from all over the world, and then the rest of the year the only techno parties here are like, super straight and mainstream. It’s not free like the techno scene in Berlin and other parts of Europe.
I know Maty Chevirere did a performance art piece at Maricas. Will there be more?
Yes, she had a guy and a girl who were in their underwear and they were playing with paint, then three of our friends made a performance where they were dressed in monkey suits and they had dicks and tits out, touching themselves and each other. Laia and Carles had large pieces of paper and they were painting what they were seeing in the party. They’re all super fun and beautiful. We 100% want to keep this as an intrinsic part of the party. Our DNA is good music, queer and trash culture - but we always want to get more involved in the artistic scene and get more artists involved. We might reinvent ourselves a little so we can invite more artists into this space.
It’s difficult to know what’s cool at the moment because I feel like we’re all caught in our own echo chambers within our friendship circles, but at the moment queer culture is quite “cool”. Are you worried about being overrun with straight tourists?
To be honest, most people that follow us online are a small group from around here, so we don’t have that problem - so far! We usually have a super cool crowd and we don’t pay for publicity or for ads on Facebook or Instagram or any of that, so it spreads through word of mouth between like-minded people. If that changes then I guess we’ll have to re-think.
How do you navigate keeping Maricas a safe space without policing it to a Berghain extreme?
It’s weird in Berghain. It’s not even your dress, it’s like the bouncer’s personal opinion on the night. When people come into Maricas we give them a little speech on the door about behaviour, and about it being a safe space. If you do something that is not respectful, you will be taken out of the party. It hasn’t happened yet, we hope it won’t obviously, but not yet. I’ve seen so much stuff going down in clubs in Barcelona and no one cares or says anything. And the police don’t give a shit.
"When people come into Maricas we give them a little speech on the door about behavior, about it being a safe space; if you do something that is not respectful, you will be taken out of the party."
What is the queer scene in Barcelona like?
There aren’t a lot of kinky or queer places. I actually think our project isn’t 100% suitable for Barcelona - there isn’t this culture here. A lot of the stuff that happens here in the LGBTQ+ scene is about money and making money and that’s not what we’re about at all. We care about making a safe space, having good music, giving the space to artists to do whatever the fuck they want. Maricas is about doing whatever the fuck we want.
Do you have dark rooms?
We always try to yeah! In the first Maricas we had Leo Adef doing an art piece. We bought a vintage TV and Leo put it on top of the toilets. Then he went inside the bathroom and got other people going in there with him too, filming them doing stuff like kissing, taking their clothes off. It was super sexy.
There’s a resurgence in feminism and LGBTQIA+ activism around the world. Right now in Spain in particular, there are a lot of protests around sex workers rights, the La Manada case, and Trump and the rise of the alt-right or perhaps people just being more comfortable vocalising their extremist views. Do you think that queer culture is becoming more important politically again?
For us it never started like this, but now it is this. It was originally like, we want a party where we can go and have fun and now it is so much more about being a social and political claim. What is so special, and what we care about, is when the first pride happened and Marsha P Johnson was on the streets, that community being totally united. It was transgender people, and people in drag and lesbians and queers, and now you go to pride and it’s like, a float of men, a float of women - it’s stupid. We don't want that, we want a party for everyone, all together.
"Now you go to Pride and it’s like, a float of men, a float of women, it’s stupid. That’s our political statement - we don’t want a lesbian party or a gay party or a straight party we want a party for everyone, all together."
I think that’s really important. I’m in a straight relationship and I’m assumed as straight even though I’m not, and there hasn’t really been a space for me. But I came to Maricas with my boyfriend and we felt welcomed and secure, not judged for being too straight in a queer party or too queer in a straight bar.
That’s the most important thing. We want people to be dancing and kissing, kissing whoever you want, not giving a shit what anyone else is doing. That’s our essence, that’s what we want to create. It’s been a magical journey for us, Maricas is our baby.
All images taken by Anna Àlvarez
Have you had trouble with the police?
Yeah a lot of trouble. In the space, in Mamitas, we are having a lot of problems. There are new laws in Barcelona and they want to shut everything down. It’s a complex political situation but the police are trying to to shut literally everything down.
A space like Maricas feels emotionally safe as a queer person but it’s also about being physically safe. Barcelona has around 8.9m tourists per year in a city of 1.6m and when I was assaulted in a club here it was by a tourist, obviously on holiday feeling invincible. The clubs here are full of these people. But Maricas has 0 tourists.
I know these guys. I mean in Maricas I think also, you might be standing next to someone you don’t know but if something happens to someone, people will stick up for each other. It’s a community. That has happened really naturally, we didn’t need to push it. But I also think it really has to be your taste - I don’t think people who don’t like this vibe will come, and if they do they won’t stay. At the first party I went outside to smoke and I heard these two guys like “Fuck, this club is full of lesbians!” And I was like WTF, well yeah it’s run by lesbians!
Where can we follow you so we can come?