Pride Time #5: on Barceloneta beach

(From June 2017. Underwear men, Catalonia, gay life, Barcelona beaches, art and architecture, and, eventually, food. First, underwear with my captions.)

The saints of Catalunya
Pretty in purple and pink

(#1)

Sant Jordi the savory in heat
Stretched out on rocks
Homage to Barceloneta
Between sail and fish

(#2)

Sant Joan the sweet
Celebrant of gay pride
Summer solstice confection
Of fruit and nuts

It’s all about Barcelona, the beach, and swim briefs.

(Note: Joan is the Catalan counterpart to John, Jordi the counterpart to George. Between sail and fish will eventually be explained, as will the reference to fruit and nuts.)

NIT swim briefs. #1 (with a purple and pink swim brief) is from a Daily Jocks ad from late in May, announcing a sale on NIT swimwear. The DJ ad text, taken from NIT’s own copy:

NIT – The New Swimsuit: NIT was created six years ago; since then the brand has been in constant evolution in the swimming sector as well as in quality and technology. All products are 100% Made in Barcelona.

#2 is from the NIT site: the Mario style swim brief in pink.

Men’s swimwear comes in several cuts, just like underwear: thongs, briefs, boxers, trunks, shorts. Some have drawstrings, some do not; the rough generalization is that the longer the legs, the more likely the swimwear is to have a drawstring, and vice versa. NIT swim briefs, like the ones above, usually lack drawstrings; they have a trim, clean, sleek look.

The company’s ads have the homoerotic sensibility of many high-end men’s underwear firms, and that fits well in Barcelona, which is in a sense the gay capital of Spain, but the company seems not to be flagrantly queer — unlike another Barcelona men’s underwear firm, ES, that I’ll talk about below, which is entertainly outrageous; consider this ad from an ES “Proud of Barcelona” campaign a few years ago:

(#3)

Abs, packages, and lots of attitude.

The NIT name. It almost always appears in all-caps, so I thought it must be an acronym. I spent hours searching NIT sites, but none explained it.

Eventually it came to me thar it was just the Catalan word nit ‘night’. Sigh. (As an English speaker, I had to push aside the association to the noun nit ‘the egg or young form of a louse or other parasitic insect, especially the egg of a head louse attached to a human hair’ (NOAD)).

The ES Collection. That’s es, as in the country code for Spain.

For the company’s new underwear 2013/14 campaign PROUD OF BARCELONA, this sexy and playful video, showing hunky factory workers wearing nothing but ES underwear and then modeling their wares. Text:

The new campaign strives to come back to the begining, 1958 when the company was created. The video shows how ES Collection produces underwear in the old factory placed in Barcelona like fifty years ago, manually with the best fabrics to obtain the best fit and quality.

In this new underwear collection you will find amazing colors, designs and newly developed fabrics. This will provide self confidence, comfort and sensuality, just try it and you will know! 😉

“This campaign makes us feel proud of our beginings, which will push us to continue with our heritage. This feeling is the only way to achieve the best product ever”, says Eduardo Suñer, ES Product Manager.

Background: geography, language, culture. On Catalonia, from Wikipedia:

(#4) Catalonia up close

Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya, Occitan: Catalonha, Spanish: Cataluña) is an autonomous community of Spain located on the northeastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula. It is designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Catalonia comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia (with the remainder Roussillon now part of France’s Pyrénées-Orientales). It is bordered by France and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.

… After [Francisco] Franco’s death in 1975, Catalonia voted for the adoption of a democratic Spanish Constitution in 1978, in which Catalonia recovered political and cultural autonomy, restoring the Generalitat (exiled since the end of the Civil War in 1939) in 1977 and adopting a new Statute of Autonomy in 1979. Today, Catalonia is one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. The Catalan capital and largest city, Barcelona, is a major international cultural centre and a major tourist destination. In 1992, Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympic Games. [The Olympics will become significant below.]

… A controversial independence referendum was held in Catalonia on 1 October 2017, using a disputed voting process. It was declared illegal on 6 September 2017 and suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain because it breached the 1978 Constitution.

The political crisis continues.

On the Catalan language, from Wikipedia:

Catalan is a Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and named after the medieval Principality of Catalonia, in northeastern modern Spain and adjoining parts of France. It is the national and only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia (where the language is known as Valencian, and there exist regional standards). It also has semi-official status in the commune of Alghero, situated on the northwestern coast of the island of Sardinia (Italy), where a variant of it is spoken. It is also spoken with no official recognition in parts of the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon (La Franja) and Murcia (Carche), and in the historic region of Roussillon/Northern Catalonia, roughly equivalent to the department of Pyrénées-Orientales in modern France. All these territories are often called Catalan Countries.

… Catalan shares many traits with the other neighboring Romance languages (Italian, Sardinian, Occitan, and Spanish). However, despite being spoken mostly on the Iberian Peninsula, Catalan has marked differences with the Iberian Romance group (Spanish and Portuguese) in terms of pronunciation, grammar, and especially vocabulary; showing instead its closest affinity with Occitan [in the south of France] and to a lesser extent Gallo-Romance (French, Franco-Provençal, Gallo-Italian)

… Since the Spanish transition to democracy (1975–1982), Catalan has been institutionalized as an official language, language of education, and language of mass media; all of which have contributed to its increased prestige. In Catalonia, there is an unparalleled large, bilingual, European, non-state speech community. The teaching of Catalan is mandatory in all schools … There is also some intergenerational shift towards Catalan.

Then there’s gay Spain. Barcelona and Madid vie for the title of gay capital of Spain. Other gay sites in northeast Spain: Sitges (in Catalonia), Ibiza (third largest of the Balearic Islands), Benidorm (in the Alicante region). On the map:

(#5) Northeastern Spain; note Madrid, Benidorm, and the Balearics

On the islands, from Wikipedia:

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

The four largest islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. There are many minor islands and islets close to the larger islands, including Cabrera, Dragonera and S’Espalmador. The islands have a Mediterranean climate, and the four major islands are all popular tourist destinations. Ibiza in particular is known as an international party destination, attracting many of the world’s most popular DJs to its nightclubs.

As for Sitges, this note from the city’s tourst guide:

17 beaches, some for families, some for all groups, some nudist, one gay

There is one main gay beach in Sitges – Platja de la Bassa Rodona. It sits at the centre of Sitges’ row of beaches. It is often one of the busiest beaches along the strip.

If you are a gay couple and you don’t fancy limiting yourself to just Platja la Bassa Rodona, you will feel comfortable on all of the beaches in Sitges. As a famously gay town, there is an open attitude towards openly gay couples throughout the town and beaches.

[8  –  12 June 2017. Gay Pride Sitges 2017: annual gay pride in Sitges, a beach resort only 30 min from Barcelona and very popular with gay tourists. With parties and other events and a Gay Pride Village at the promenade.]

Barceloneta beaches. From the Barcelona tourist guide:

This page contains pictures and information on the golden sandy Barcelona beaches. There are 4.2 km of golden sandy beaches only 10 minutes from the city centre and 4 main beach areas.

Some notable features: the W hotel, looking like a giant sail against the sky, and then from Wikipedia:

Amongst the attractions on Barceloneta’s beach are German artist Rebecca Horn’s “Homenatge a la Barceloneta” monument, and, where the beach gives way to the Port Olímpic, Frank Gehry’s modern “Peix d’Or” sculpture.

(#6) W hotel

(#7) Horn’s homage to Barceloneta

(#8) The Gehry goldfish

#6: W hotel. From Wikipedia:

W Barcelona, popularly known as the Hotel Vela (Sail Hotel) due to its shape, is a building designed by Ricardo Bofill is located in the Barceloneta district of Barcelona, in the expansion of the Port of Barcelona. … The building … stands in 7 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea surface in the construction of the new entrance to the harbour.

#7: the homage to Barceloneta. On the artist, from Wikipedia:

Rebecca Horn (24 March 1944, Michelstadt, Hesse) is a German visual artist, who is best known for her installation art, film directing, and her body modifications such as Einhorn (Unicorn), a body-suit with a very large horn projecting vertically from the headpiece. She directed the films Der Eintänzer (1978), La ferdinanda: Sonate für eine Medici-Villa (1982) and Buster’s Bedroom (1990). Horn presently lives and works in Paris and Berlin.

… In the 1990s a series of her impressive sculptures were presented in places of historical importance. Examples are the Tower of the Nameless in Vienna (1994), Concert in Reverse in Munich (1997), Mirror of the Night in an abandoned synagogue in Cologne (1998) and Concert for Buchenwald at Weimar (1999). In Weimar, the Concert for Buchenwaldwas composed on the premises of a former tram depot. The artist has layered 40 metre long walls of ashes behind glass, as archives of petrifaction. At the same time, the theme of bodily vitality, which the artist had been exploring since the seventies, was developed in site-specific installations that investigated the subject of the latent energy of places and the magnetic flows of space. This cycle comprises High Moon, New York (1991); El Reio de la Luna, Barcelona (1992); Spirit di Madreperla, Naples (2002). For the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Horn was commissioned to create the steel sculpture L’Estel Ferit.

On the sculpture:

The sculpture L’Estel Ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star) consists of four twisted cubes, stacked seemingly at random. Most people refer to this popular landmark as “the cubes”, and it is a clear reflection of Barcelona’s penchant for ground-breaking art during the Olympic period. However, its symbolism is inextricably linked to the past of the Barceloneta district.

The sculpture L’Estel Ferit pays tribute to Barcelona’s fishing district, the Barceloneta [hence the alternative name Homenatge a la Barceloneta ‘homage to Barceloneta’], and has become one of its iconic landmarks. The German artist Rebecca Horn heralded a new phase in the decoration of the city’s streets and squares. It was 1992, and the city’s most neglected neighbourhoods were in need of a clean up, while they opened up to the sea and adorned themselves with sculptures that were often innovative. In this case, Horn sought to immortalise the legendary seafront bars and restaurants, or xiringuitos, which just a few years before had dotted the Barceloneta coastline. The xiringuitos were shacks that had fallen into disrepair but still retained their essential charm. However, by the time the pre-Olympic city was being refurbished they had seen better days and were removed. Some people say that the cubes represent the [30m-squared] apartments…

Whatever the interpretation, there’s no denying that the artist created an impressive 10-metre-high sculpture, comprising four steel blocks that rise up from a concrete base. Each block, with its glass windows, comprises an individual module. Stacked one on top of another, these cubes look like they’re performing a fragile dance and are held up by chance. Locals and visitors alike don’t seem to fear the apparent instability of the structure, which is silhouetted against the background of the sea.

The name “homage to Barceloneta” is itself an homage of sorts. From Wikipedia:

Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell’s personal account of his experiences and observations in the Spanish Civil War. The first edition was published in the United Kingdom in 1938. The book was not published in the United States until February 1952, when it appeared with an influential preface by Lionel Trilling.

#8: the Gehry goldfish. From Wikipedia:

La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou (The Olympic Village of Poblenou) is a neighborhood in the Sant Martí district of Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain). It was constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games which took place in Barcelona. Its construction was devised by Oriol Bohigas, David Mackay and Albert Puigdomènec as a residential area in the otherwise industrial and working-class district of Poblenou, which underwent regeneration but involved massive expropriation, as well as the destruction of a sizeable portion of the district, including Industrial Revolution factories of architectural value

… The [high-rise building] Torre Mapfre is located in this neighborhood, while the Hotel Arts, the Casino Barcelona and the “Peix d’Or” (goldfish), a large metal sculpture designed by Frank Gehry, are located at one edge of the Barceloneta neighborhood, close to the border with the Vila Olímpica del Poblenou.

Also in the neighborhood, from Wikipedia:

Palau Sant Jordi (English: St. George’s Palace) is an indoor sporting arena and multi-purpose installation that is part of the Olympic Ring complex located in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, it was opened in 1990. The maximum seating capacity of the arena is 16,670 for basketball, and 24,000 for musical events. It is the largest indoor arena in Spain.

The Palau Sant Jordi was one of the main venues of the 1992 Summer Olympics hosting the artistic gymnastics, handball final, and volleyball final events. Today, it is used for all kinds of indoor sport events as well as for concerts and other cultural activities, due to its great flexibility. [And it includes Piscina Sant Jordi, a public swimming pool.]

A swimming pool where you can show off your NIT swimwear. In any case, we’ve cycled back to Sant Jordi, St. George, in #1.

As for Sant Joan, St. John, in #2: his celebrations mark midsummer, the national day of Catalonia, and (for gayfolk) a high point of Pride Month. From Wikipedia on the traditions of Catalonia:

June 23: Midsummer. Revetlla de Sant Joan: Celebration in honour of St. John the Baptist … takes place in the evening of June 23. Parties are organised usually at beaches, where bonfires are lit and a set of firework displays usually take place. Special foods such as Coca de Sant Joan are also served on this occasion.

June 24: St. John’s Day. Dia de Sant Joan; Christian feast day celebrating the birth of Jesus’ likely cousin, Saint John the Baptist. This is considered to be the national day of the Catalan Countries.

And so it ends with food. From Wikipedia:

(#9) Coca de Sant Joan, sweet coca with candied fruits and pine nuts, typical of Catalan summer solstice celebration

The coca is a pastry typically made and consumed in Spain. [It] is just one way of preparing a dish traditionally made all around the Mediterranean.

The Catalan word coca — plural coques — comes from Dutch during the Carolingian Empire, and shares the same roots as the English “cake” and the German “kuchen”

There are many diverse cocas, with four main varieties: sweet, savoury, closed and open. All of them use dough as the main ingredient, which is then decorated. This dough can be sweet or savoury. If it is sweet, eggs and sugar are added, and if it is savoury, yeast and salt. As regards the topping or filling, fish and vegetables are usual at the coast whilst inland they prefer fruit, nuts, cheese and meat. Some cocas can be both sweet and savoury (typically mixing meat and fruit).

… Coca de San Joan, a sweet coca most typical of Catalonia, eaten on La revetlla de Sant Joan, St John’s Eve.

Catalonian midsummer fruitcake. Patriotic and gay.

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