SUFFOCATING IN SITGES: BRIDE-LESS REVISITED
Confessions of a Gay Road Tripper, Pt 3.1
More from Jack Cullen
As I pen these notes before dinner from the balcony of Hotel Calipolis I can see a boy of about seventeen on the beach, leaning back on his knees in the sand, one hand pulling back through his hair, the other in his swimmers, posing with utmost sincerity for his sugar daddy’s iPhone.
I can see why so many gay men despise Sitges. A mixture of the chocolate factory and the town of Vulgaria, with plenty of twits and witches, indeed, Sitges could be the gay children’s tale that Roald Dahl never told. A nocturnal town where men have no wives, their skin is a firm orange and instead of a golden ticket or everlasting bubble gum, they are on a much harder quest. You can smell, see and touch the yearning in the air. For 50 years now, since a counter-culture flowered here against the fascist and horrifically homophobic dictatorship of Franco, Sitges has been a kind of gay mecca.
But anyone who gives Sitges a negative rapport lacks curiosity, spirit, and most of all – a sense of humour. I love Sitges. The place effortlessly ticks all of the holiday boxes: Hot sunshine, good food, pleasant beaches, clean seas, culture and nightlife. And from this bedrock of secure essentials spirals a strange and magical gay village...
Sleepy lanes that coil around the historic church, each dotted with rustic little restaurants, unassuming sex bars, coffee houses surmounted by sun-drenched rainbow flags of old, and bizarre designer mens swimwear boutiques, all carved into the 17th century streets. As well as the fiction of Roald Dahl, Sitges has a touch of the Wicker Man about it, or perhaps an X-rated version of The Prisoner. "Good morning villagers! Today's condom flavour is peach-blossom, make sure to get yours from the kiosk before three!" etc.
Get it right, and Sitges can be the most excitement you’ve had since your high school crush threw THAT sleepover. Get it wrong, and Sitges can quickly become a horrid, isolating, cliquey disco inferno.
Luckily you’ve got me to hold your hand. Come on now…
There is a timetable that you must follow, no matter how un-English it seems. If you don’t follow this routine then you will miss everything and will have NO friends. Trust me.
1100: Wake up, go out for breakfast
1200: Sleep by the pool / or visit friend with pool
1400: Light lunch, like gazpacho
1430: Go to gay beach / or gay nudist beach
1800: Sleep in hotel for three hours / or go cruising in gay woods
2100: Wake up, shower, pour you first drink
2230: Dinner time!
0130: Go to first bar
0230: Go to second bar
0330: Go to club / or go cruising on gay beach
0600: Go to bed, alone or otherwise
The schoolboy errors are to go out for dinner far too early, like at 8.30pm, when only families and the ignorant are eating. On the first night most Brits will go to a bar at 10 or 11, because they cannot believe it can be empty until midnight. It can.
CLASH OF CULTURES:
Sitges is a thorough mix of European nations. I held my own little world cup tournament of one night-stands. Everyone qualified, France had too much grass on the pitch, Germany were good at penalties and much to my surprise - Serbia won.
I found it good fun to wildly generalise the traits of gays from different countries. My observations were: Eastern Europeans think they look hot and straight in their tight wrestling wear and dirty trainers, Spaniards just can’t get enough of their AussieBum vests, Greek boys completely wax themselves, Belgian gays like surfy hairstyles, French men can’t dance but have perfected smoking as an art form, the Dutch leave fake tan smears on your bed sheets and Italians just love their mini man bags and god-awful jewellery.
Some miserable wealthy couples take teen escorts on holiday with them, which generally receives international dirty looks, but Sitges also confusingly has a micro-tourism niche aimed at British gay dads! You look one way and an old Swiss-German man will be feeding a teenage boy strawberries and then snogging him, you look the other way and someone's going "choo choo" shoving chicken nuggets into some kid's mouth. Your hotel floor fills up with peoples' forgotten items, Versace pants, Fred Perry t-shirt, cock rings and pink Crocs. Everywhere you look everyone is gay, it's gayer than X-Factor, and everyone is constantly surveying you with the gay gaze, and suddenly you sorely miss the laughter of your girl friends and the clumsy banter of straight boys.
This syndrome is called Suffocating In Sitges. My advice is - deep breath, go back to the bar, remember who you are, and remember what you’re here for: HAVOC!
I stand up on my balcony to hang out my towel and a nightclub promoter shouts up at me "Hey Blondie! Welcome to Sitges!" I'm going to write the rest of this piece later, I need some gin.
Check back soon for Jack’s second-half to this piece - ‘Bitches In Sitges’ - for gossip on the best bars, clubs, tales from the gay beach and secrets from THAT forest.