Double Trouble: Two Takes on Barcelona’s Opium Mar Nightclub

Food & Wine, Spain — By on December 7, 2009 at 7:00 am

By Patty Hodapp
LG Travel Lifestyle Editor

In March, Lost Girl Ashlee Davis ventured across the Atlantic on a spring break trip to visit friends studying in Madrid, Spain. In a two-night jaunt to Barcelona, she and her friends hit up the famous markets, ate Spanish tapas (appetizers) and went downtown to experience the renowned nightlife.

Barcelona, a favorite LG city, is famous for mosaic art, exotically costumed street performers, and the legendary stretch of high-profile discotecs on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The Opium Mar, one of these disco clubs, was the hot spot during Ashlee’s visit, and was still going strong (if not stronger) when I went during my backpacking trip in July. We just found out that we’d been to the newly renovated club only 4 months apart and had fun rehashing our individual experiences. Here’s a window into Ashlee’s night in Barcelona and my own disco-encounter at The Opium Mar.
Ashlee: I knew I was only going to be in Barcelona for two nights. I arrived in Spain on Thursday morning, exhausted from jet lag. That night, my friends and I went to Attic, a restaurant on Las Ramblas, for our first real Spanish meal, and spent the night relaxing over traditional tapas and sangria, a signature punch made from red wine, fruit, brandy and sugar.

My friends and I woke up well-rested on Friday, ready for a full day of sightseeing. As the day continue, we grew more and more excited for what lie ahead-our foray into the nightlife of Barcelona. My friend Lindsay, who studied in the city before, told us that about one can’t-miss Friday hotspot: Opium Mar.

Lindsay advised not to show up before 2AM (the night in Spain often starts long after people in other countries have gone to be), but she assured that getting there late would be worth the trouble.

She was right.

We made reservations at a restaurant called Shoko, located in the same neighborhood as the club (we figured we would eat a late dinner and go from there). When we arrived, we realized that not only was Shoko close to Opium Mar, the two spot were practically connected and right on the beach!

By the time we finished up our Japanese-style dinner, waiters were folding up chairs and tables and Shoko morphed from a restaurant to a club right in front of us. The space was huge, decorated with bamboo and candles, providing an exotic feel. Huge screens covering the walls displayed crazy videos and photos. We stayed and danced in the packed crowd on Shoko’s dance floor for a while, and then, anxious to see Opium Mar, we headed next door. .

The line to get into the club stretched all the way to Shoko’s entrance, but luckily, Lindsay had mentioned the name of a club promoter she’d met and I confidently dropped it with the bouncer at the front door. We were let in at no cover charge. We walked down a set of stairs into what seemed like a different world. The massive club was dimly lit with red-tinted bulbs and freestanding candelabras. The walls and bars were designed with glowing scripted flower designs.

Once inside, we found that the multiple dance floors were already packed with clubbers moving to a mix of techno and hip-hop music. Later on, dancers reminiscent of Vegas showgirls entered the stage in outrageous, glistening mini dresses. The vibrant mixture of music and people kept us on the dance floor for what felt like hours.

Outside, people mingled on the large deck and lounged on white couches, soaking in the ocean views. The exterior of Opium Mar extends all the way onto the beach-unlike any club I have ever seen. Though this section wasn’t packed (its fairly cool in Spain during March, when we went), no doubt every seat and standing area would been occupied on a weekend in the summer months.

My friends and I spent our time traveling back and forth from the dance floor to the gorgeous terrace. The entire night was a perfect balance between pleasure and leisure.

Patty: Fresh off the plane from Greece, before I even set my backpack down in the lobby of my Barcelona youth hostel, a man on the street handed me a flyer that screamed, “OPIUM MAR, Best Barcelona Club, VIP free entrance before 1a.m.!” I stuck it in my bag and promptly forgot about it as I headed out to check out the city’s famous architecture in daylight.

I made it back to my hostel around 9 p.m., grimy and tired after a day of sightseeing. I had two things in mind-a hot shower and a soft bed. But, the instant I walked into the lobby, a group of French teenagers introduced themselves and invited me along “for sangria and to party.” I couldn’t pass up a chance to see Barcelona’s famous clubs that my Greek friends bragged about, so in three minutes, I changed my dress, threw on some heels, grabbed my bag, and headed out with the French group.

We grabbed a sandwich dinner from a little guy wheeling around a food cart on Las Ramblas, and went to the supermarket to buy cheap sangria. For 74 Euro-cents each, we bought a few bottles of wine. We headed to the port to watch the ships, walk the docks, and eventually make our way to Port Olimpic, the famous stretch of nightclubs.

Pierre, one of the guys in our group started raving about this club called Opium Mar, saying that we had to find it. I reached in my bag and pulled the club flyer out. All the French kids stopped and stared like I was holding a solid gold rock. “Where did you get ziss!?” Pierre demanded. Apparently free VIP entrance flyers were tough to come by in July… So with me in the lead, the French posse strolled right up to Opium Mar’s VIP line. The bouncer took one look at my flyer and opened the velvet barrier to let us in, never mind the fact that we had a 3:1 guy to girl ratio.

Still in the lead, I headed down a set of wide, white stairs, turned the corner, and a sweaty wave of body heat wafting from the dance floor hit me full in the face. People were glued to each other, their bodies straining and flowing with the techno beat as the crowd ebbed and swayed on the two-tiered dance floor. We wove our way to the large, metal bar that faced a huge window with open doors to a beach side deck.

We asked the bartender for a menu, I took one glance and nearly had a heart attack. A basic vodka coke was 20 Euros-roughly 36 American dollars! The bartenders poured beers, mixed drinks, and uncorked wine bottles at light-speed pace, not shattering a single glass or dropping a single drop of alcohol.

Paid dancers worked the music’s beat on tables fueling the frenzied atmosphere. From across the club I noticed the DJ hunched over his table throwing beats together and banging his head to the rhythm. Green, red, and white lights whipped around the club so fast they looked like a blur.

Outside on the deck, half the clubbers were dancing a Spanish salsa, and the other half were cooling down. Women tried to smooth their sweaty hair back, men aired out their shirts. Even in the hot Barcelona summer, the night air felt refreshing. Next door and all down the beach side, clubs and lights were flashing. Music decibels competed with each other and club promoters ran slinked around trying to lure tourists in for a free drink.

The palm trees swayed in the breeze and I could smell the salty ocean that was just a few yards away in the pitch black night. Barcelona and Opium Mar did not disappoint. We eventually moved to every single club on Port Olimpic, and took the 5:00 a.m. metro back to our hostel to wrap up one of the all time most energetic nights I have ever had. Minus the pricey drinks, I give my night at Opium Mar five stars.

Tags: , , , ,