REFLECTIONS OF LIFE IN SPAIN: Economics Of Surviving A Recession

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I went to a concert the other day. Spanish 5-piece band with a guest appearance for a song or two from a female singer. Not a big venue you understand, one of the cocktail bars here in Almerimar. Somewhat typically for this part of the world it was on a Sunday afternoon at 6pm. Slightly bizarre on the surface of it, but the theory seems to be that as the Spanish enjoy a few copas after lunch on a Sunday why not attract them with some music? Plenty of time for a few drinks and an early night before work on a Monday.

 

I went to a concert the other day. Spanish 5-piece band with a guest appearance for a song or two from a female singer. Not a big venue you understand, one of the cocktail bars here in Almerimar. Somewhat typically for this part of the world it was on a Sunday afternoon at 6pm. Slightly bizarre on the surface of it, but the theory seems to be that as the Spanish enjoy a few copas after lunch on a Sunday why not attract them with some music? Plenty of time for a few drinks and an early night before work on a Monday.

 

The band was excellent, all English 80s classics that made me feel old as I remembered a lot of them from their original release, and nostalgic as I had seen a lot of the original bands play during my college days in the UK. The audience was of a pretty wide age range… we weren’t the youngest, but nor were we the oldest. We were the only English people there though, even though the Cocktail Bar is located in a part of the marina that has three what you would call ‘English Bars’ as neighbours.

The music was loud so they must have heard it, and the bar had done a good job promoting the event on their Facebook page, our site and around the marina, so one can only assume that the English community just didn’t want to go and listen which is obviously their choice, or didn’t know about it which is a topic for another day I feel.

I felt it was a shame though, in more than one way.

The band were local, but had travelled down from Valencia that morning after a ‘gig’ the night before. They played for 2+ hours non stop and received 300 euros for their troubles. That is five people, for let’s say six hours to set up, play and pack up, and transport time and costs on a Sunday. They charge less on a Sunday afternoon as it means they can still do another ‘gig’ later that day, but even so 300 euros isn’t a lot of money split between five people is it? 60 euros per person, or approximately 10 euros an hour.

On the other hand 300 euros is quite a lot for a bar to pay out at the moment. As a rule of thumb a bar would need to take around 1,000 euros to cover the cost of the band, give or take depending on how many staff, price of drinks etc. As cocktail bars tend to charge a little above the average for their drinks, and as a rule being Spanish haven’t dropped their prices during a recession, 1,000 euros is a good guide. Bars that have reduced their prices to attract custom would have to sell more drinks to more people.

Now with a spirit and mixer averaging 5 euros and a beer or wine 2.50 euros each in said cocktail bar I reckon they would be doing well to average 20 euros per person. Four spirits and a mixer on a Sunday afternoon is a lot (well it is anytime I should probably say with the “Drink Aware” campaign breathing down our necks). I am being generous at 20 euros but it makes the maths easier! Means they needed 50 people to break even. I did a quick head count and I reckon the bar may well have broken even for the event, but I doubt very much that they made a lot of money.

So the bar in all probability didn’t make much money, the band certainly aren’t going to be rushing out to buy a mansion and order a Porsche just yet, and at 40 euros for two many would question if it was worth it. The band were great, the venue was excellent as ever, and it was a superb afternoon, so 40 euros for a couple to stand in a bar and listen to some great songs with no entrance fee seems pretty reasonable to me.

The answer in many ways is obvious …… more people, or more from the existing people. But if people aren’t here what can be done, and also if people don’t have any money then they don’t have any money simple as that.

I was reflecting on this as we wandered through the marina to get some food to take back home with us. Called in at an ‘English Bar’ while waiting for the food to be prepared, and bumped into a group that had certainly been enjoying the hospitality of ‘mine host’ for the afternoon. Nothing wrong with that at all, just a shame that they said they were bored and there was nothing to do these days and everyone seemed to have “given up” during the recession!!!

On the way back to the car I counted the paces ….. 175 paces from boredom to a rocking good concert!

By Chris Marshall

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