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Botellón is quickly becoming a very popular evening routine among Spain’s youth (16 – 24 years old), who gather in Madrid’s central plazas to drink liters of cheap wine mixed with Coca Cola (calimocho). These groups can range from three to fifteen or more, and are made up exclusively of either university or high school students [1]. The drinks are most frequently bought in the supermarkets or the so-called ‘’ chino’’ (A small grocery store that is normally operated by Asian people) where alcohol is often much cheaper than in clubs or pubs [2].

Contents

Origins

The origins of botellón started in Andalucia during the XX Century (more accurately during the 1980's). It started as a way for Andalucian workers to be able to enjoy a cheap drink in the calid climate instead of conforming to the prices that were offered in the bars (5€ to 6€ on average). Nowadays teenagers have adopted this phenomenom as a part of day to day life.[3]

Binge Drinking — once dismissed by Spaniards as an affliction of the British, German and other northern European hordes who descend on their country every summer — is gaining ground among their own youth.[4]

Characteristics

Stadistics that show the relationship between botellón participation, gender and age. [5]

The botellón usually starts at midnight but people keep on arriving until 00:30. It usually ends at around 3:00am to 3:30am which is the time at which most of the people move to a disco or a club.
The starting age for botellón is around 14 years of age while the stopping age is around 28 years of age. Of the people who attend the botellón on average 58% of them are males while the other 42% are females. Up to 70% of the youth who attend the botellón, do it on a weekly basis. [6]
According to “El Fenómeno del Botellón” a study that compares Madrid, Galicia and Jaen with regards to the botellón phenomena.
The most popular drinks in the botellón go in this order: mix drink, calimocho, and beer while the least popular drinks are cider, wine and champagne.
The frequency with which the Madrileños consume alcohol during the botellón according to some statistics which say that: 5.9% don’t ever drink, 8,4% drink occasionally, 21,5% drink most of the time while 64,2% drink all the time.
Cigarette smoking is also closely related to the botellón because as age increases the number of regular smokers increase. Cannabis smoking (“porro”) is not so prevalent among the crowd and does not happen on a regular basis but rather in a much more moderate fashion.[7]
Some of the most prevalent effects after the botellón are a headache, a loss or an increase in appetite, insomnia and lack of motivation for the next day. [8]

Controversy

An abandoned empty vodka bottle after a botellón.

Since prohibition of drinking on the street depends on the autonomous community, in some places botellón is not possible. In other places weather may prevent frequent opportunities for gathering outdoors. The activity is most widespread in the south where it is relatively warm year round, although the southernmost community of Andalucia forbade it on December 2006.

The main problems that botellón generates are:

  1. Noise: People in the botellón tend to be always talking, so depending on the number of people it can be very loud and can disturb citizens nearby. Large car audio systems, "disco-cars", also contribute to the amount of noise, which is one of the reasons botellóns often take place in the less populated areas of the cities.[9]
  2. Dirt: Botellón tends to end in the park or plaza, where the botellón took place, filled with a large amounts of litter. Vandalism (including broken glass or bottles, bags and cups) cover the public areas over night leaving the mess for the city´s cleaning crew. Participants urinate in the street and on doorsteps of residents, another factor adding to residents opposition to this social gathering. Some municipal authorities have created special cleaning plans to make the unofficial venues look clean the morning after, and attempt to charge participants to offset the costs. However, these cleaning plans can do nothing for private properties, often forcing homeowners to clean up after the night's festivities.[10]
  3. Moral issues: Some find the botellón morally unacceptable. Drinking on the street is generally accepted by Spanish adults when there are traditional fiestas, but the moral issue with botellón whether it encourages young people to think that entertainment is all about alcohol. While young drinking is a controversial issue across the globe, botellón is a particularly open form of intoxication-based entertainment. It's also known that since botellón takes place in public places, it's unavoidable that many minors will be there. While the legal age for purchasing and drinking alcohol in Spain is 18 years of age, minors still get hold of alcohol.
  4. Economy: The costs of drinks in clubs and bars have gone up making it too expensive for young people to buy them in legit establishments. Being able to mix your own drinks for half the cost of one drink in a bar or club is what makes the botellón more appealing to the youth. [11]
  5. Health: Drinking too much affects health but more than that, is the popular concoction of red wine and coca cola known as calimocho. [12] According to the Global Post,"A recent Ministry of Health survey revealed that while one in four teenagers drank to get drunk 10 years ago, a full 50 percent of them do so now" (Mateo-Yanguas). [13]

Measures against it (in Spain)

Since botellón usually takes place at night, a law was passed to expressly prohibit the sale of alcohol to the public after 22:00. It can then only be purchased inside a club, pub, disco, etc. in which case alcohol cannot be taken out of the place. This measure is currently easily avoided by buying the drinks before the selling limit hour, and keeping it at a residence or inside a vehicle. Since the enforcement of this measure is usually strong only in the botellón area some shops far from the area will sell alcohol illegally after the limit hour, risking fines.

A law was passed which expressely prohibited the consumption on alcohol in the streets, exceptuating the local festivities. From that moment onwards people who chose to take part in a botellón risk a fine. Minors risk an additional fine for underage drinking, and may be taken home by the police.

The situation nonetheless has become so incontrollable that recently the Mayor of Seville passed on an act which prohibited the consumption of any kind of drink in the street. This resulted in ridiculous situations where bottled water is confiscated from thirty-year-olds.

In some cities the botellón has been taken to unpopulated areas by force, generally with no resistance by the people displaced. This is made by the local police cordoning the area and advising people to go some other place. Sometimes modifications have been made to public parks so they can be closed at night, not allowing the entrance of any person.

Since most of these measures, including the prohibition of drinking in the street, have failed to stop youth from taking part in botellones, recently some authorities have begun opening special places where young people can make botellón without causing problems, usually in distant industrial parks. The term “botellódromo” or “bottle track” is starting to take effect in some cities as a way to keep this custom of the “botelln” under control. This is an area far from residential homes that is monitored by the authorities where the youth can get together and drink without causing much of a disturbance. Granada´s town hall has put into effect the use of the “botellódromo” and in 2006 chose an area of almost 9.500 meters squared, around the area of Huerta Del Rasillo that has become an outlet for the youth and is capable of hosting 20,000 people. [14]

Possible Solutions

As a measure to prevent noise pollution, vandalism and violence Alicante was the first to propose the idea of having an area for the sole purpose of young social meetings/botellón. It is an outdoor area with a size of 4.000 square meters located on the wharf of the Alicante port. The main idea behind this is to prevent the youth from occupying other parts of the city in order to do the botellón. This area will be surveyed by the police in order to control and condition the botellón without interfering if it is unnecessary. The area will be fully equipped with bins, illumination and protection from the seafront. Those who are underage will, obviously, be sanctioned from this area. [15]
Some the youth have proposed an alternative solution to the botellón issue. They suggest that prices for drinks and entrance fee be lowered in the many clubs and discotheques of Spain. Other Leisurely night activities should also be offered as an alternative. [16]
For a long time now there have been many alternatives that different communities have offered to try and substitute the botellón. Most of these activities are night activities such as sports, cultural experience and other entertainment activities for instance:
- “Actividades deportivas, culturales y lúdicas”:This project was started by Luis de Morales in December 1999. Itconsists of different activities that have to do with Sports, culture and leisure.
- “Vive la noche en Badajoz”: Leisure activities, cultural activities, cinema programs, photography, astronomy and sport during the night: city hall of Badajoz.
- “En verano, Vevida”: varied activities: Consejo Local de Juventud, Plasencia (since 1994)
- “De ruta por tierras extremeñas”: nature activities, Concejalía de Juventud de Cáceres (octubre1999)
- “Noches de Abril en vivo” Consejo Local de Juventud de Cáceres: series of four concerts. (April 2000)
- “Imagina tu ciudad”: Main Program of “la Dirección General de Juventud”, within which various activities will be developed (February1998-2000).

Macro-botellón

Macro-botellón [17]

Macro-botellón as the name implies is a massive botellón.
On the 17th of March 2006, “Half of Spain [met] on the net to organize a macrobotellón”[18].
As the article points out, it seems that organizing Macro-botellón via Internet is becoming very popular nowadays.

“If last week it was in Albacete, currently, the meeting for the botellón in the street has been set via SMS and via the Internet on the 17th of March, 2006 in Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Oviedo, Murcia, Vitoria, Malaga, Cordoba, Granada and Jaen.” [19].
The purpose of the Macro-botellón that the youth organized for the 17 March 2006 near the Faro de Moncloa was to protest against the municipal restrictions for drinking alcohol in the streets. The other purpose was to surpass the 5.000 people that had met in Sevilla on the 16th February. “Madrid’s City hall will not consent to the Macro-botellón planned in Moncloa”. [20]

References

  1. ^ Carlin, Michael. “Borrowed time in the botellón”.Letter from Madrid.The New Criterion. May, 2004.
  2. ^ Botellonista, “botellón”. Urban Dictionary. December 26th, 2007. March 11th, 2010. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=botell%C3%B3n
  3. ^ http://www.uclm.es/profesorado/Ricardo/PeriodicoMAG/13/Botellon.html
  4. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1965183,00.html
  5. ^ Articulo de la consejería de cultura y patrimonio
  6. ^ http://www.unex.es/eweb/sociolog/botellon%201.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.pnsd.msc.es/Categoria2/publica/pdf/JuventudDrogodependencias4.pdf
  8. ^ http://www.pnsd.msc.es/Categoria2/publica/pdf/JuventudDrogodependencias4.pdf
  9. ^ Mateo-Yanguas, Cristina (November 8 2009). "Spanish teens fight for their right…to par-tay" (in English). globalpost.com (Madrid, Espana). http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/spain/091106/spaniards-fight-their-rightto-par-tay?page=0,0. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  10. ^ Mateo-Yanguas, Cristina (November 8 2009). "Spanish teens fight for their right…to par-tay" (in English). globalpost.com (Madrid, Espana). http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/spain/091106/spaniards-fight-their-rightto-par-tay?page=0,0. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  11. ^ "End of the botellón-Town Hall prohibits youths drinking alcohol on the streets of Malaga City" (in English). EuroWeeklyNews.com. July 3, 2009. http://www.euroweeklynews.com/2009070359829/news/costa-del-sol/end-of-the-botellon-new-byelaw-prohibits-youths-drinking-alcohol-on-the-streets-of-malaga-city.html. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Vino off the hook in blitz on booze" (in English). buzzle.com. September 4, 2003. http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/9-4-2003-45015.asp. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  13. ^ Mateo-Yanguas, Cristina (October 12, 2009). "Binge drinking among Spanish teens on the rise" (in English). globalpost.com (Madrid, Espana). http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/spain/090903/binge-drinking-trend-reveals-troubled-society?page=0,0. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  14. ^ Reyes Rincón (November 28 2006). "Nace el ‘botellódromo’:El Ayuntamiento de Granada construye un espacio a las afueras de la ciudad para que 20.000 jóvenes puedan beber sin molestia" (in Spanish). ELPAIS.com (Sevilla, Espana). http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/Nace/botellodromo/elpepusoc/20061128elpepisoc_10/Tes. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  15. ^ http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/03/09/alicante/1268135548.html
  16. ^ http://www.pnsd.msc.es/Categoria2/publica/pdf/JuventudDrogodependencias4.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.20minutos.es/galeria/905/0/0/fotos/macrobotellon/botellon/
  18. ^ http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/97295/0/macrobotellones/ciudades/espana/
  19. ^ http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/97295/0/macrobotellones/ciudades/espana/ | Literally translated from Spanish
  20. ^ http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/97293/0/botellon/moncloa/marzo/
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