Residents of Benimaclet barrio were the first in Valencia to openly protest against “botellones” that take place almost every night in this neighbourhood.
Residents from Valencia’s Benimaclet neighbourhood gathered on Saturday morning to protest against botellones (street drinking and partying), demanding that the people who live in the area be respected. They have declared the current situation unsustainable and have requested assistance from the City and the police.
This is the latest in a series of protests across Spain against “botellones,” a unique social phenomenon that gripped the country after the state of emergency was lifted. For months, an army of psychologists, sociologists, and, above all, journalists tried and failed to explain the reasons for the extreme popularity of “botellones” in Spain. While there is no definitive answer to the question “why,” “how” is much easier to explain, thanks to the popularity and reach of social media platforms.
This Saturday, the first Valencian anti-botellon protest was held in Benimaclet, whose residents said enough is enough. The rally lasted from 9 a.m. to noon on Plaza de Benimaclet, with a clear message – the Ayuntamiento and the Police must act.
In a couple of articles published in the local press, the residents stated that it is impossible to sleep at night due to the tremendous noise coming from the main square and a field near Calle de la Murta. But loud music isn’t the only issue; the square and streets would smell of urine in the morning, as they were littered with cans and bottles. And this happens night after night, with only Monday and Tuesday nights registering less activity.
Although the police have begun to scrutinise this strange problem, homeowners believe that policing the area could only be a temporary solution. Nobody expects police to patrol all hours of the day and night, and without affordable leisure options for youth and adults, hardly anything will improve. Because of its proximity to universities and good traffic connections, Benimaclet is known as a very popular barrio among students, so it is hard to expect that this situation might change.
Botellones are also becoming an issue in areas with large student populations throughout Spain, and Benimaclet is no exception.
Even if the Police and City Council were keen, combating “botellon” culture would be difficult. It is a completely new social phenomenon, viewed as a low-cost alternative to drinking in bars and clubs (a prohibitively expensive activity in post-covid times). Aside from being a sign of an economic crisis and harsh financial reality for many young people, it is regarded as a form of social revolt. The outlook for young people is bleak, particularly in Spain. It is not surprising that, once the police intervened, some of the “botellon” parties devolved into a strong social protest, and in some cases, a physical conflict.
Resolving the botellones issue would also pose a significant political risk to any political party determined to see it through. Some of the botellones that police dispersed were on the verge of causing massive social unrest, the last thing anyone needs in these difficult times. This is probably why, rather than looking into the causes of the problem, many officials in Spain are happy to suggest that cities arrange special venues that would host “botellones,” far from areas where the noise might cause the disturbance.
Residents of Benimaclet are the first to demand that their rights be respected, and they will not be the last. However, because no one can offer a solution at the moment, it appears that “botellones” are here to stay