|No picture of Mercaders exists on the internet, and I don't have one either, so here's an unrelated pic.|
I don't normally go out to bars at night because when you have seasons three through five of 30 Rock, well odds are that a night out is not going to beat that. However a few weeks ago I was... gasp... trying to find somewhere to drink at midnight on a Tuesday night.
I always assumed the Catalans who don't dare open up shop until 11am were out drinking the night before, but I couldn't find anything open. Until my friend pointed me to Mercaders, a grungey hole-in-the-wall that's open until about 4am most nights of the week. My first visit was right around Halloween, which explained the skeleton that hung from the ceiling just above a record player that spun two magnets, that interact with the magnets on the skeletons feet in a way that makes him dance.
Two months later the skeleton is still there and on the rare occasion, so am I.
Last time I was there I ran into my friend Pierre, who was deep in a sketch exchange with another patron, who was an artist/basketball player/old guy dressed in a suit three sizes too big for him. The latter gentlemen then called his friend, who was purported to be the best artist in Barcelona. Pierre (not a bad artist himself) opted to go home with his girlfriend instead of engaging in an art duel with a man who showed up looking like the most tortured soul in the universe.
For a few minutes I sipped my beer and watched as Sr. Crazy just sat there shaking refusing to talk to his friend who called him. Then grabbing a nicely drawn sketch and crumpling it up.
Then I was interrupted by a guy in a jacket with built-in backpack (imagine this but more 80s acid wash denim) searching the floor with a zippo for a black jewel that fell from his ring. I offered to help him, but instead he asked if my friends and I were indeed friends. I told him yes. He made us put our hands together and close our eyes. Then he blessed us, or something to that extent, before he walked off screaming the lyrics to Culture Club's "Do you really want to hurt me?" in a heavy Spanish accent. He sang the lyrics eight times over, trying to get others to join in. Nobody did. Eventually he stopped.
Once 2 am hit, the bartender rung a bell, which apparently signaled that everyone was allowed to smoke inside (a rule that applies only to Mercaders). Then he closed the gates that cover the window to make sure no smoke escaped and to maximise my ability to second-hand smoke three packs her minute.
Later I complimented the man's built-in backpack because I'd never seen anything like it. His natural response to offer us cocaine for 2 euros a gram (which we declined), then he yanked out a piece of paper from his backpack and made us all sniff it before walking away.
That was our cue to pay the bill and leave.