El botellón is the Spain-wide phenomenon of drinking in the streets on Friday and Saturday nights. It features large numbers of young people who gather in set places around 10 or 11 at night and then drink copious quantities of booze until the dawn breaks. Needless to say, this is not a noise, urine, rubbish or vomit-free activity. I’m assured there was none of this even 10 years ago and my own observations suggest not only has low-degree vandalism recently become a feature but also the lowest age of the participants has reduced over the last 5 years from 14 to 12. But this could just be me getting older. Anyway, there is concern things are getting out of hand and some councils are reported to be trying measures to curb the worst excesses. But I see no evidence in the media of any campaigns led by concerned parents, demanding the authorities put an end to [illegal] street drinking. Tackling my Spanish friends on this, the explanation most often given is again the fear amongst adults here of appearing to be in any way ‘authoritarian’. Or ‘Francoist’.
But Spain, of course, has some way to go before it reaches UK levels of teenage drunkenness and violence. To quote one British newspaper - The figures for British teenage alcohol addiction are terrible when compared with the rest of Europe. Hard drinking is still considered a form of heroism here, whereas, in the national psyches of France or Italy, it is more likely to appear as a form of weakness. The same could probably still be said of Spain’s young people but one wonders whether a shift change isn’t taking place.
Meanwhile, to end on a lighter note, here – for the benefit of non-Brit readers – are some current synonyms for the obsolete ‘drunk as a lord’:- bladdered, blootered, panelled, blotto, smashed, guttered, hammered and, of course pissed. Not all of these are recognised by Word.