Barcelona, what a town! With all its landmarks and sights, it seems almost custom-made for tourists, really. In fact, the city is occupied by tourists all year round; tourism has become Barcelona’s way of life… which is great if you’re a tourist or you work in the tourism sector. For a growing number of Barcelonites, however, their city has become a spectacle, a dog-and-pony show in which the natives that aren’t stage props are swept under the rug and remain largely invisible to the average tourist. Then there’s Pakito, who isn’t native and lives off tourism, and yet is mostly invisible also… until someone needs a cold beer at 3 AM.
The phony Barcelona (la gran Barcelona postiza) could be defined as the area comprised in the typical free tourist maps of the city, basically the old quarters, the beachfront and part of the Eixample. The actual monuments and buildings are authentic, of course; what is phony is the bubble that surrounds them, oriented to the tourist in detriment of the life-long residents and authenticity. Before Barcelona became a massified tourist destination, many of these areas were populated by the city’s marginal classes, hookers and junkies and others of risqué lifestyles. Today the bubble has pushed them back, and globalization has changed the marginals into immigrants, one way or another they’re all there still.
The clearest example of the bubble is found in the Raval district, on the right-hand side of the Ramblas. The Raval was Barcelona’s red light district, the place to go to look for trouble and fun in equal measure, where pimps and bookies ruled the streets. The push of immigration eventually changed the face of the district to become “Ravalistan”, in honor of the prevalent Pakistani community, of which Pakito is a member. Ravalistan has been subject to pharaonic urban planning projects, including the removal of entire streets and their corresponding buildings to open the Rambla del Raval. Spanish film maker Jose Luis Guerin made a poignant award-winning docu-film on these changes, En construcción, seen from the perspective of the construction workers and life-long residents, a priceless testimony of how the bubble came to be.
But what about Pakito? Well, Pakito tells his own story in the clip below, created by a group of artists and musicians who live/work in the Raval, and wanted to share with the new beat of Ravalistan with the world. Hit it, Pakito!