So it was quite a change when this Sunday I roused myself at half past six, not to catch a flight, bus or train, but to go clubbing. It has been a year since Row14 started its legendary Sunday morning parties, and I wasn’t going to let my lazy habits get in the way of experiencing one of Barcelona’s best electronic nights; or rather, days.
Row14 has been drawing in crowds of young beautiful things for three years, but the people behind the concept have been at it a lot longer. The club is the latest addition to the portfolio of a partylicious family that has spawned five generations of nightclub owners, who together are proudly responsible for making Spaniards dance since before the Civil War.
The first of the Arnau family’s clubbing entrepreneurs founded Club Florida 135 in Fraga 62 years ago and they haven’t stopped dancing since. The launch of the Monegros dance festival 17 years ago added to the family’s infallible reputation for providing world-class DJs and an unbeatable clubbing experience.
The Elrow Sunday Morning party, run by Juan Arnau’s son and daughter, is no exception to the family’s track record. It would have to be, as nothing less than a top quality show would be capable of levering drowsy Catalans from their Sunday lie-in, enticing them to put on their heels and head out of the city on the Castelldelfels motorway.
So it was with high expectations that I silenced the alarm, got into my party dress and poured myself a handy buck’s fizz fit for the occasion. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, as what I encountered a few hours later was a party with enough variety and innovations to satisfy even the most spoilt of clubbers.
Three main areas give plenty of scope for restless feet; the huge terrace section RowAir drenches ravers in dappled sunlight, RowClub provides an enormous party haven with retractable roof and the mysterious RowBar ensconces its clubbers in a darkness punctuated only by sexy red lights, relieving the most tired of eyes.
Having said that, promoter Dan Bacho informed me that 90 per cent of Elrow’s clientele get up early to come to the party, rather than rolling in from other clubs. The club opens at 6:30, but with a 25 euro price ticket, it makes sense that party-goers would want to make the most of the experience.
The benefits go beyond the welcome absence of an excruciating hangover the next day. Everyone seems to agree that the energy and atmosphere in the club is quite different to what you get at a ‘normal’ club night. Having set aside the day to party, everyone is fully up for a marathon of air-pumping techno/house. It has the feeling of a special occasion, in which everyone is united in the common decision to forgo the family Sunday dinner in favour of an indulgent party-fest.
Dan explains, “The best thing is that it’s very unique, it’s something that has never been done here in Spain. Normally people just drink and then go to a club, here it’s different – people go to sleep early, and then they wake up and go directly to the club to enjoy a very different Sunday.”
“You have to come and see it with your own eyes. People wake up and they have a lot of energy for the whole day. It means that they put the energy into the club, into the atmosphere. If you see 2000 people with a lot of energy, it makes an incredible atmosphere which is indescribable and inimitable...it’s something special.”
I talk to another, slightly bleary eyed clubber whose verdict is, “Buen rollo” – good vibes. They most certainly are, particularly thanks to the Brazilian theme which lends an infectiously happy and uplifting atmosphere to the party. The main club is draped all over in grasses and palm-fronds, there are tropical fruit and Acai stands, and at one point the terrace is inundated with samba dancers, men in furry parrot costumes (the heat must be unimaginable) and a full brass band.
The dancers shake their smooth and peachy asses on a podium and wiggle their bejewelled torsos – several jaws drop to the floor. The parrots are flapping their wings with gusto and the DJ resumes; Amsterdam’s 2000 And One launching into another session of irresistible Ibiza-style house. The crowd is ecstatic, practically combusting at each drop and not a half-arsed dancer to be seen. Everyone looks like they have waited all week to be here, and they aren’t going to stop until the speakers rest.
When 2000 And One reluctantly hands the decks over to Elrow’s resident DJ, the mood doesn’t subside. The resident addresses his faithful crowd with a fine selection of house beats, jigging around the DJ booth just as much as the revellers below him.
Over in the chill-out terrace, groups of friends huddle in huge spherical wicker chairs whilst they regain their energy. The dress-code is casual and vibrant; vests and luminous sunglasses with optional adornments of rubber inflatables, afro wigs and clown noses. I spot a fully grown man happily twirling a fairy wand. The only thing to remember is it gets very hot in there – leave your sleeves at home.
The party rolled on until 3pm, leaving us hungry but happy on the free bus back to Plaza España. A few slices of pizza and a nap – boom, it’s Sunday evening. I’m ready to start the week feeling refreshed by the contagious Elrow party spirit, my clubbing appetite generously fulfilled until next weekend.
I’m definitely going back to Elrow, and next time it won’t be a struggle to get up. With some of the best names in dance music passing through their doors and a truly unique concept, it’s an un-missable party-stop for any electronic music-lover.
As one confident clubber put it, “En Barcelona, el movimiento esta aquí.”
Elrow’s calendar for September boasts Paco Osuna on Sunday the 18th September and 2manydjs on the 25th.
For more information on the club visit their webpage here