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The joy of living returns

That happy decade of the 20s that someone foreshadowed in the darkest moments of the pandemic is not going to come, like a pendulum. Now that daydream of a post-Covid stampede of joy has been diluted with 10.5% inflation in Tarragona and a war in Ukraine that tarnishes everything. But, compared to that, yes, leisure has been resurrected and lives an unprecedented ecstasy in two years. “It is normal that there is a reaction. Society has been repressed. The essence of the person is social relations and that is what the pandemic has destroyed, the bond with the other. Pierre Bourdieu spoke of social capital and that is what has been put in a freezer. There is a recovery but it is going to cost us a while”, explains Gaspar Maza, anthropologist, associate professor of the Department of Anthropology, Philosophy and Social Work of the URV. As always, the sensations go through neighborhoods, but discos, event and celebration rooms or restaurants notice a boom in activity and, above all, the impact of a liberating sensation.

The goodbye to the mandatory mask has ended the last of the restrictions. There are no longer distances or capacities. Removing the mask has also contributed to relaxation, but also an intangible as volatile and key as the good weather and the arrival of spring. “It seems that people have removed all their fears and that also influences the good atmosphere,” explains Javier Escribano, manager of Salting Tarraco, an events and celebrations company specializing in birthdays. Anniversaries, trips – the exceptional and recent Easter is an example – meals and reunions are now trying, with the Covid-19 appeased, to make up for lost time. “It’s not going to be easy, not overnight. We are witnessing a spontaneous reaction, a rebound effect, but normalcy will take time to arrive, and it does. Nothing is going to be free because relations have cooled. We are still afraid of the other, of otherness. Although we do not realize it, there are changes that will remain for a period, “says Maza.

“A clear improvement”
All of this will be overcome little by little, but the current sensation is that of an uncorked bottle of champagne and, above all, that it will be like this permanently. “We have been going up and down for two years, when things started to go well for us, suddenly we had to go back, now we trust that this will continue like this forever,” says Escribano. Sometimes the boom is not so noticeable or sudden but the inputs are good. “It is going up, perhaps we are not yet in the pre-pandemic moments, but there is a clear improvement, we are recovering little by little,” says Carlos Badia, owner of La Pepita, in Plaça Verdaguer in Tarragona.

The joy and desire are there, despite the fact that the context is not ideal. «An increase in leisure in response to restrictions is compatible with this situation of threat that we are experiencing, of a war, of very high prices, and it also coexists with the fact that this distance from the other stays for a while and takes longer in leave,” Maza breaks down. All of this is combined, moreover, with a certain invocation of ‘carpe diem’, with a clear intention of living day to day, of enjoying the present.

Children at a birthday party at the Salting Tarraco complex. Photo: Angel Ullate

“We do not stop. There is a lot of celebration pending »

«We don’t stop, we do an average of 50 birthdays, which is our main line of business, every weekend. Between 500 and 600 children pass by”, indicates Javier Escribano, manager of Salting Tarraco, a complex for children, with trampolines, baskets or ball pools; in short, a temple of fun that has lived its darkest hours in these two years. «People really want to do things, they want to get together. Many children go two years without celebrating their birthday. The one who had been born in summer yes, but if someone was from spring, he had not been able to do anything. The children have had a very bad time during this time,” says Escribano, used to frenetic days, a contrast to that recent nightmare: “In December, January and February, with all the waves and the quarantines, it was very bad. You had 20 birthday children and the day before they had quarantined the class… and so on for two years. Now it is different: «People have just removed their fear, for the first time we will be able to work for a long season. There is a lot of celebration that has not been done, many pending meetings and that they want to recover, that of seeing friends. It is the best moment of the last two years and we are already in figures for 2019 ».

A waiter, behind the bar of the Totem nightclub. Photo: Totem

“They thank us for having endured”

The most exciting thing are the words of the client rediscovered under the lights of the track. «The first sessions have been very cool, very emotional. People thank us for having endured, for opening, and we have seen that it has been worth so much struggle, so much insistence. I think people have realized the importance of the sector,” explains Christian Compte, so many times the voice of the union’s persistent complaint during Covid-19. In his club, Totem has perceived all that disinhibition. Dances on the podium, kids at the bar or asking the DJ for a song, all of them images that were science fiction for so long. «First the youngest began to come out, with a lot of desire, to the fullest, as they had not come out before, and now we are seeing those of 30 or over 40, who have taken a little longer to lose their fear, although they have taken off the The mask has already been liberating and has made them lose their fear of crowds,” says Comte, who describes “spectacular first weeks in the feeling, what has been experienced is outrageous”: “There was fun in the atmosphere, a good roll, which had nothing to do with the other days ».

Professor Sixto Duque, during a dance session. Photo: Pere Ferre

«There is a great desire to interact as before»

“It’s been two years trying to survive,” says Sixto Duque, who in 2020 at this point was content with online dance classes. «It was the only thing we could do, with four or five students. Then they let us open the school, but there were only six people due to capacity restrictions. It has cost us a lot… », he explains now, a bright moment in which the agenda begins to fill up: the nights at the Casino, the sessions in rooms in Vila-seca and Reus or the training sessions for those who want to start. “There are still people who have not been re-engaged but we are recovering,” says Sixto, who saw how the virus devastated a profession that lives on socialization. He is a salsa and bachata teacher and an entertainer at parties and nightclubs. «There is a lot of desire at night, people who are setting up parties and dinners, people who were looking forward to meeting again at a vermouth, wanting to relate. For a month we have recovered again and everything is working ». The SalSixto School returns with its splendor and leaves behind the bad drink: «Suddenly the bug arrived and tore a piece of us. I love seeing people again, greeting them and even hugging them. It’s so nice when they let me know they missed me.”

All tables occupied inside Casa Matías. Photo: Pere Ferre

“Everyone wants to start a new life”

“Holy Week has gone very well, there are quieter days, but we have noticed spikes depending on the specific dates,” says Matías Salas, head of Casa Matías, in Plaça Corts Catalanes. Breakfasts, mid-morning beers, tapas, menus or dinners flow at levels not seen in quite some time, but fundamentally what has changed is the spirit. “There is more movement. People really want to go out, to cheer up, to leave the pandemic behind, without talking about it », says Matías, who remains cautious because he is aware that the situation is still fragile. “We must not lower our guard, because the virus has not yet gone away, and we notice that people try to hold back a little when it comes to spending due to the economic situation, but there is a great desire to recover social activity, to start a new life. , but make it look a bit like what we had before. The weather also influences this. Tarragona is a bit of a snail city, when the sun rises, people go to the streets, but if they don’t stay at home, and that’s why it’s important that the weather works together,” acknowledges Matías, who in these times of pandemic truce stands out “an impetus to live in the present”.

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