Chris Talks…. Sunscreen… Again

Well that was interesting.  After 15 months and 45 blog posts, who would have thought the one that really sparked a fire in those reading it, and led to such a great debate would be the one on a topic seemingly as banal as sunscreen use (link here if you missed it).  I expected some commentary, but I certainly did not expect the reaction I got.  It was great, I loved it.  However, as I fielded questions and accusations on the day after I published the piece it struck me that a follow up was probably required.  Not everyone will have seen the many many articles and videos I posted up on Instagram as the conversation raged on.  As I sit down to type this it is Wednesday 11th September, which also happens to be Diada Nacional de Catalunya (National Day of Catalonia).  I’m currently on my 7th day in Barcelona, I opted to extend my stay to see the Festival, and then I decided I wanted to see Barcelona FC take on Valencia on Saturday, so I’ve just booked a further three nights.  This is the beauty of travelling without a plan, the flexibility, going with the flow – it felt right to stay here, so fuck it, why not hang out longer.  I might write a post about that at some point too.

It was an awesome experience, walking around the city, Catalonian flags everywhere, the people excitedly chattering endlessly (as the Catalans are prone to do), posters and yellow ribbons hanging in every shop and window.  Whilst I strolled around my phone repeatedly buzzed with comments and questions from readers of the blog all around the world, on the subject of sunscreen, vitamin D and skin cancer.  Normally I would have turned my phone off, but I’m travelling alone, and I was game for some interaction, so for once I didn’t dwell on my phone usage and got stuck in.

To address what came up in the conversation I figured I’ll take some of the comments and address them directly below.  But first let me say this:

I am not condoning or suggesting anyone go out in hot midday sun and burn themselves to a crisp.  Take responsibility for your own health.  Tap into what your skin is telling you when you’re out in the sun.  I can’t imagine anyone read the post and thought “oh Chris said to forget the sunscreen, nothing to worry about“, but I figured I should clarify just in case…  The message contained in the original post was simple, we need more sun exposure than we think we need, and we need to be mindful about how quickly we reach for the sunscreen.  And do not forget the dietary factor – sun tolerance is linked to having sufficient quantities of good quality saturated fat in the diet.  Diets high in sugar, refined grains, alcohol, caffeine and vegetable oils are inflammatory – being in a state of inflammation will reduce your skin’s ability to properly process the sun’s rays.

Ok so let’s dive into my responses:

1. Someone nominated me for a Darwin award.  For those who don’t know, a Darwin award isn’t a real award, it’s whimsical, but to be nominated for one you essentially have to have ended your own life in an idiotic, possibly funny fashion.

Response: Well first off – LOL.  But seriously, sun exposure is hellish important, and done properly, mindfully, it’s actually really sodding beneficial.  Homo Sapiens evolved in outdoor environments.  The invention of house, office, car and train are relatively brand new in the grand scheme of things, and let’s not forget to leave sunscreen off that list – it was invented in the 1930s.  For millions of years we have evolved in tandem with the natural world.  Living our lives out in the open, and sleeping under the stars.  Obviously these primitive living quarters came with their drawbacks; think weather; big fuck-off cats wanting to eat you; other tribes wanting to steal your food and women; creepy crawlies; bugs, natural disasters, etc.  You get the picture.  However, drawbacks or not, one cannot deny that this is the environment we evolved and thrived in, over millions of years, and guess what?  We got a lot of sun on our faces and bodies living this kind of life.  If you go back and re-read the original post you’ll see that the overarching theme was one that suggested we should be getting a hell of a lot more sun than we are.  I’ll take the Darwin award, he was the godfather of evolution after all, and that’s where the basis for my argument lies.

2. Someone told me that I should not be out in the midday sun without sunscreen on, because if I go even slightly pink or develop new freckles then I’m damaging my skin.

Response:  Newsflash!  Just being awake takes a toll on the human body.  Eating, shagging, drinking, smoking, walking, cranking out some burpies, taking a dump, and even yoga (gasp) are a form of stress on our physical being.  From the moment we are born we are aging and headed towards an eventual and inevitable death.  That does not mean that the above is bad for you (okay maybe smoking is bad for you).  As any bodybuilder knows, you have to stress the muscle for it to grow, and really, I see sun exposure a bit like this.  YES, of course you shouldn’t burn, but being outside, developing a slight pinkness to the skin, and maybe a few additional freckles ain’t gonna kill anyone, if anything, it’s the opposite….and that leads me to my next and primary point.

3. “Where’s the proof that sun exposure is as important as you make out, Chris?”

Response: Right, so I figure none of you want to trawl through a heap of scientific journals, but I rather enjoy it, so here’s a few snippets of what I found, (Note; if you want to skip ahead you could probably jump to #6 and read the footnote):

  • A Swedish study of 27,000 women over 20 years, found that those who avoided the sun had twice the likelihood of dying of any cause.  Not just cancer.  Heart disease, diabetes, etc. (link here)
  • The European Journal of Cancer put together a review of a whole bunch of other studies and came to the conclusion that having optimal levels of vitamin D protected against a whole range of cancers, including; prostate, colorectal, non hodgkins lymphoma and breast.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a preventative effect on other cancers, but it’s extremely possible that we just don’t have the info yet (speculation) (link to study here)
  • This study found that cancer incidence for all invasive cancers and for 11 of 22 leading cancers significantly decreased with increased solar radiation (link here)
  • Nearly every cell in your body has Vitamin D receptor sites, even the ones in the brain.  So I ask the question, why is that?  Is it possibly because every cell needs vitamin D to function effectively?  This study (link here) states: “Vitamin D regulates the expression of more than 900 genes involved in a wide array of physiological functions”.  and it concludes: “Vitamin D is associated with immunity against certain infections and with the prevalence of some autoimmune diseases”
  • The Endocrine Society has come out and stated that vitamin D plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system, enabling the normal response to infection and regulating inflammation.  It’s also important in maintaining muscle mass, and potentially cardiac function (the heart is a muscle after all) – link here.
  • Data from the National Diet and Nutritition indicated that 61.4% of UK adults have insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood.  Now, bear in mind that fair Caucasian people like myself need considerably less sun exposure to optimise vitamin D, our fair skin and light eyes are optimised for making the most of the diminished sun on offer.  Darker skinned people require three to five times more sun than their lighter skinned compadres. (link hereand I thoroughly recommend reading)
  • The endocrine society’s levels should be considered the lower end of the required levels. If you’re sick, loaded with toxins, depressed, overweight or ‘metabolically challenged’ you may well want to be aiming for much higher levels of Vitamin D in order to facilitate healing.
  • We should not rely on vitamin D from food or supplements.  A decent portion of wild salmon (not farmed) will give you approximately 1/6th of the minimum daily dose of vitamin D.  Not many people I know are eating wild salmon once a month, let alone 6 times a day.  And remember, that’s the minimum dose, if you’re already deficient you need much more than the bare minimum.
  • Sun exposure has been shown to protect against digestive tract disease and inflammation, specifically IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and diverticulitis (link here).  It can also reduce eczema (link here)
  • SPF30 Sunscreen blocks around 96% of UV rays, SPF50 blocks 98%.  If you’re wearing it all day it’s going to be preventing your Vitamin D production dramatically.

I could go on and on here, but I don’t want to overdo the science.

4. “Everyone knows sun exposure is important, Chris, but that’s not a reason to tell people not to use sunscreen!” . Interestingly, the author of this even admitted in the same message that sunscreen is toxic, but said we should still use it.  To me it’s evidence of the power of marketing, that these companies have been able to persuade us that something toxic is good for us….comparisons could be drawn with cigarette smoking, and Guinness…).

Response: Ok, so firstly, hopefully we’ve established from the evidence above that sun exposure and vitamin D is VERY important to the healthy functioning of a human being.  I’m also cognizant of the fact that prolonged sun exposure, especially in midday sun, and especially for fair-skinned people is damaging, very damaging.  It’s 12.30pm here in Barcelona, it’s 28C outside and so I’m sat inside working on this until at least 3 or 4pm when I’ll head out to soak up some of the good stuff.  At no point, and in no way am I suggesting that anyone go out and burn.  If you live in Australia and are reading this I recommend a weather app called OzWeather, it will give you hourly UV rating updates.  Anything over a rating of 6 and I’m keeping my exposure to short bursts.  Arm yourself with knowledge.  Knowledge is power.

61WYMLrenkL._SY606_

5. Do you also believe in ‘Flat Earth Theory’

Response: HAHAHAHA.  No.

Right, finally….

6.  Three people wrote to warn me of the risk of melanoma, one was personally affected by a close family member suffering from the disease, one works in the field, and the other’s parent was a dermatologist who spent three decades cutting skin cancer out of people.  These people have made me appreciate the sensitive nature of what I have writing about, for them my piece was ‘triggering’.  This follow up was largely motivated by their words to me, it made me realise I needed to dig deeper and maybe clarify some of what I had proposed.  I am sorry if I caused those people any mental anguish.  But I’m also writing about something I believe in, and I make no apologies for that.

Response: This study (link here) is quite frankly, incredible, I’m just going to pull out the bits about melanoma first:

“The only identified risk associated with the amount of non-burning sun exposure needed to achieve serum 25(OH)D levels of 30 ng/mL is some possible increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer.” 

So, non-burning sun exposure is not seen as a risk for melanoma.

“the relationship between melanoma and UV radiation is 2-sided: non-burning sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of melanoma, while sunburns are associated with a doubling of the risk of melanoma.  It has long been observed that outdoor workers have a lower incidence of melanoma than indoor workers”

In fact it’s seen as a positive factor in reducing the chance of melanoma

“The incidence of melanoma in the United States has increased dramatically from 1 per 100,000 people per year in 1935 to 23 per 100,000 per year in 2012. Various explanations for this phenomenon have been suggested, including diagnostic drift, depletion of the ozone layer, the widespread use of artificial UVR devices (sunbeds), and the proliferation of large windows in office buildings. None of these explanations is particularly satisfactory for the reason that none explains the steady increase in melanoma incidence since 1935″

A more plausible explanation for the rise in melanoma incidence since 1935 may be the continually-increasing insufficient non-burning sun exposure and related increasing vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency

This is mad! Everyone thinks the sun causes melanoma, but in fact it appears that not getting enough sun is the culprit.

It’s also worth sharing this:

This review considers the studies that have shown a wide range health benefits from sun/UV exposure. These benefits include among others various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease/dementia, myopia and macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve serum 25(OH)D concentration of 30 ng/mL or higher in the sunny season and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.

Final Word

I make no money from this blog, it’s merely a hobby.  Regular readers will know that I share my thoughts on all manner of topics, some theoretical, some deeply personal.  The blog has provided a creative outlet for me, which in retrospect was missing prior.  The blog is not an ego piece, but at the same time I cannot claim it to be entirely intrinsic, I can’t deny feeling a rush of pride when someone tells me that I’m a good writer or that they’ve enjoyed a particular piece.  Primarily though, I write it for the enjoyment of the writing, and the subsequent engagement of my friends in lively debate and conversation.  As I delve more and more into the topics of health and ‘wellness’, inspired and motivated by my own periods of poor health, I feel the urge to share this newfound knowledge, in the hope that my own suffering may bring some light or assistance to someone in need (for instance a friend of a friend just moved out of her mouldy apartment having read my piece on that – hearing that almost made my heart burst).  The blog may be written by me, but it is not just about me, it comes from a place of love, for everyone, for the world.   The last thing I want is for people to be upset by the blog, so please always bear in mind that the opinions written here, and the experiences described, are mine alone.  That does not mean I am right, and yes, it’s remotely possible that I’m wrong on certain things <insert winky face>.  Like the rest of us, I am on a journey of life, unlike most of us I’ve opted to start sharing some of that journey with anyone who wishes to read, and this leaves me somewhat vulnerable.  I am human, I am (relatively) young, I will make mistakes, and my inexperienced writing will sometimes get the tone wrong, sometimes it will offend.  BUT to censor myself, to not write from my heart, as I always try to do, would be a disservice to me, and to you.  When I try to polish and structure my posts too much they fail, they lose the relatable nature of which people often comment positively.  The fact that Tuesday’s post created such a response, some supportive, some challenging – is great.  I welcome the discourse, it means people care, that they’ve taken the time to read what I’ve written, which in a world of work stress, mortgage stress, changing nappies, netflix, instagram, and god knows what else, is an incredible complement, one for which I’m very grateful.

I’ve started ending my posts with the signature:

Love,

Chris

I mean it.

Now go get out in that sun, BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T BURN 🙂

Chris Talks…. The Nonsense That Is Sunscreen

I’m currently in Barcelona, and it’s raining, so what better time to bring up the topic of sun protection.

I’m going to just say this: Sunblock is one of the cruelest jokes that has been played on an unsuspecting population, seemingly globally.  The sale of suncream/sunscreen/sunblock has been pushed onto us through a campaign of fear mongering, with the goal being commercial gain.  Who wins from the creation of a fear of the sun?  The companies producing sunblock and the taxman who claims VAT receipts from those sales.  Who loses?  Us.  On multiple counts.

5cd065ba2500003300b68bb4

Eh?! Chris, what are you talking about?  Keep reading.. I’ve been wanting to discuss this for some time now, but I needed to test the theory out on myself before I went ahead and started recommending to all of you out there.  But before I dive head long into this subject I’ll provide a bit of personal background.

As a twenty-four year old man I will always remember my first day in Ibiza. Accompanied by two mates, we checked into a budget two star hotel in the not-so-classy resort town of San Antonio.  We dumped our bags, donned our swimming shorts and headed to the pool.  Upon removal of my T-shirt I will never forget the words that came from a Scouse pleb sat on the poolside table next to us:

“Fucking hell, mate, you are the whitest motherfucker I’ve ever seen”

I’d always been aware that I was quite a fair-skinned human up to that point, my face and arms have always been adorned by freckles, but I’d never experienced much in the way of external commentary on the fact before, and certainly not in the derogatory fashion in which this came my way.  I’d always been told my freckles were cute, if anything I was proud of my complexion.  When I meet people who have freckly faces these days I’m often quick to point out how much I like them.  For some reason this chump’s comment drove a dagger into my seemingly fallible confidence, and for years after, everytime the sun came out I found myself on a ridiculous and futile campaign of attempted tanning.

This campaign invariably looked like this:

  • Go on holiday to a hot place
  • Lie out in the sun
  • Attempt to judge when I’d had enough, apply sunscreen and then lie out in the sun some more

Sometimes I got lucky and timed it right, but at others I got it terribly wrong and burnt to a reddened crisp, enduring two to three days of discomfort at best, downright agony at worst.  After years of failed campaigns, I changed my tactic to one of proactive self defence, and I started applying factor 30+ sunscreen before I went out in the sun.  And then I’d lie out in the sun for hours on end, safe in the knowledge that I was protected.  Except I’d always miss a bit and end up with ridiculous white finger marks across my torso, or a patchy red streak across my middle back where my stretching, straining hands couldn’t reach.  On more than one occasion I forgot to do my face and ended up looking like a red tomato on a white spear of fancy asparagus.

After years of trying I simply could never get it right, after I moved to Australia I upped my campaign of smearing on the lotion in the face of outrageous UV levels and constant reminders from Aussies to “slip, slop, slap”.  For the most part this ensured I stayed close to my baseline of ghostly white, but occasionally the sunscreen wouldn’t work, overpowered by the scorching Antipodean rays it just failed and I burnt worse than ever.  In short, I was in a never ending game of cat and mouse with the giant fiery ball in our sky, and she always seemed to be winning.  Either I was smearing myself in toxic goo, or I was burning my epidermis clean off.

So what changed?  EVERYTHING changed.  Midway through last year I stumbled across the madass writings and recordings of an outlandish American Neurosurgeon called Jack Kruse.  Jack talks about many topics, but the overarching theme is that we must try, as hard as we may, to return to our ancestral ways.  His early works and theories talk about the sun, light, and diet a lot.  Today it is estimated that on average, in the West, we now spend 90% of our time indoors.  Jack is quick to point out that this is not normal, nor natural for human beings, whom for millions of years have lived predominantly outside.  Jack argues that the various types of light which we receive from the sun are important in modulating the human body’s systems; hormonal, circulatory, neurological, nervous, etc.  If you go back far enough the realise that all of the modern religions were founded on one basic concept, that the sun is god.  The sun brings the light, it brings the new day, and as winter wraps up and spring emerges, it brings life, both plant and animal.  Without the sun this solar system we call home is nothing, and our planet would become a cold, dark lump of rock and ice.

Yet here we are in the 21st century, and us white folk are literally quivering in our boots at the thought of being outside in the sun’s beautiful healing rays. The corporate wankstains, driven by the corporate need to increase revenue and turn a profit, have effectively, and successfully campaigned for decades to create a culture of fear when it comes to getting outside and soaking up some UV.  I’ve just been back in Ibiza last week with a group of mates, and was aghast to see a fellow fair-skinned mate applying the sunscreen before we even left the hotel room to go down to the pool.  Here he is, an office worker, living in England where (Surprise!) the sun ain’t that common or strong, with his best opportunity in months to get a massive dose of vitamin D, yet he’s been so brainwashed by the overriding theme of “THE SUN IS BAD FOR YOU”, that he won’t even contemplate going out at 10am without cream on, when it’s not very strong, or even remotely damaging.  I didn’t put it on me even once.  I don’t carry any with me.  This is what prompted me to write this post.

Last October, as Aussie winter turned into Aussie summer (As a Brit I can’t quite work out when Spring is), and spurred on by what I had learned from Jack, I made the conscious decision to forgo all sunscreen.  What proceeded has blown my mind.  For seven months through the hot season I sat out on my sun-scorched balcony. I laid out on Bondi beach, I frolicked in the Tasman sea, I walked in Sydney’s parks, and then I also spent two weeks floating around in the Philippines. You know how many times I applied sunscreen in that year-long period?  Once.  You know how many times I got burnt?  Twice.

On one particularly hot day in the Philippines, towards the back end of the trip, I had been out in the sun for quite a while, and the opportunity for shade was lacking.  This is the only time I have thought this in the past year, but it felt prudent to spread some cream on my face.  My face flushed red shortly after applying it, and the next day it was still red.  The second time was last week, I fell asleep on the top deck of the ferry from Ibiza to Barcelona, exhausted from a night of raving my tits off and zero sleep.  I slept for four hours in the blazing midday sun, and my nose received a minor case of sunburn, which was gone after three days.

I have not developed some incredible olive skin complexion, I am still fair and freckled, and I still turn pink after a prolonged sun exposure, but what happens next is that I feel no sunburn, no pain, no itchiness, my skin just turns slightly darker, and a few more freckles appear.  It’s crazy!  Before I was in a cycle of apply, stay white, burn, peel.  That cycle has seemingly been broken.  But how?

I think the answer to this is mult-faceted:

  • Skin health: Sunscreen is not good for your skin, and neither are all the other nonsense creams and potions we apply to ourselves in this modern age.  I hypothesise that my skin is free to breathe and do it’s thing properly, which includes absorbing the sun’s rays in a healthy manner
  • Regular exposure: The Brits won’t like this one, but I honestly believe that getting outside and exposing as much of your skin to the UV light is powerfully healing, regardless of season.  At lunch time, if it’s dry I try to get to a park, I take my shoes and socks off, I roll my trousers up, and if I’m feeling it, take my shirt off.  For those in darker climes, I’m going to say something controversial, I don’t think sunbeds are the devil they’ve been made out to be.
  • Fear: I no longer approach being in the sun from a position of fear.  Instead I am grateful for the opportunity to be outside soaking it up.  The power of the mind is not to be understated.
  • Diet:  I’ve written in the past about my shift towards a predominantly meat-based diet.  I can’t claim this to be original thinking, Jack Kruse’s ramblings inspired me to experiment, but he claims that the low-inflammation state that a meat-heavy, plant-light diet creates, coupled with the insane levels of nutrients obtained from organ meats such as liver (which I eat regularly), enable the body, and primarily the skin, to function as it was meant to, to absorb the light from the sun and convert it to Vitamin D.  Who knows what other benefits it has that #science hasn’t yet figured out.

But there’s the thing, why would #science figure it out?  The studies are funded by the suncream companies, who have absolutely no interest in proving that their product is superfluous, or dare I say it, dangerous.

Final Word

I am not an idiot, I do not think I can lay out and bake in hot midday sun for hours upon end.  Instead, I am now in touch with my body, and I can tell when my skin has had enough sunlight.  When it sends me the signal I take note and move into the shade.  I also wear a wide-brimmed hat a lot of the time to protect my face.  I am not condoning long sun-baking sessions, but I am suggesting that maybe there is another way.  And applying sunscreen to babies?  Just no.  God no.

Footnote Rant

Whilst in the Philippines I spent 5 days and nights on a boat tour of paradise.  On this boat were two semi-famous Spanish actresses, both vegetarians.  Both who claimed to be revolted by the pig that was cooked on the spit on our final night.  And yet, both seemingly had no issue with covering their dark Hispanic skin in sunscreen before diving into the pristine waters home to incredible corals and fish.  How is not okay to eat a pig that has been raised humanely on a local farm, but it is okay to pollute the home of the stunning marine life.  I theorise that coupled with their dark complexions and some good quality meat in their diet there was zero need to smear that dross all over themselves and leach it into the water.   Christ, I wasn’t wearing any, but I did eat the pig, and it was Delicious!

Edit: a number of people messaged me to say this post is dangerous in its message, so I add this: It is only dangerous if you do not take responsibility for your own health. I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to dish out health advice. The words above should be taken as a description of own experiences only. Doctors get it wrong sometimes, they only know what they know. Doctors told me I had arthritis when I was 24, and suspected Lupus when I was 25. At 27, chiropractors and osteopaths told me that my spine was degenerating and that I would need weekly treatment for the rest of my life. They were all wrong. Inflammation was the cause. Reduce the inflammation and eat the right nutrients, and you reduce the disease. If I had listened to the doctors and not experimented with my health on my own I dread to think where I would be physically and mentally right now.

Love,

Chris

 

 

 

Finding Joy On A Balearic Dance Floor

I raised my hands to the air, my feet sidestepping up and down, left and right, my hips gyrating, my pulse thumped through my veins, my senses were firing on all cylinders; seeing, hearing, feeling everything.  The bass line pounded through every cell of my being.  The crowd vibrated around me with the same ecstatic energy.  As a collective of thousands, each bouncing to the tantalising melodic beat, enthralled in the incredible visual displays above the DJ box, we knew we were witnessing something special.  I shout to a stranger next to me “HOW FUCKING GOOD IS THIS?!” He looks at me, drenched in sweat, his eyes slightly wild and yells back “MATE, THIS IS THE BEST I’VE EVER SEEN.  I guess he is forty, maybe slightly older, he’s quite a bit shorter than me, he has a Northern English accent, and he is in a state of rhythmic ecstasy.  I can tell this guy is a seasoned pro in the rave game, if he says it is that good, then it confirms what I’m already thinking, I don’t think I’ve seen better either.

It was our last night in Ibiza, me and five of my closest mates, some of whom I’ve known since we were slightly wary eleven year olds walking into Secondary school for our first day of being ‘bigger boys’.  This was our last night on the White Isle, we’d done all the raving we needed to do in the previous 48 hours, so instead we opted to head into Ibiza Town with four fellow Brits we had befriended at the hotel (4 of them, 6 of us, 9 of the 10 married, odd one out over here).

Ibiza town, if you haven’t been, is beautiful.  A medieval fort towers over its picturesque cobbled streets laden with buzzing tapas bars and boutique stores, which as per Spanish custom stay open seemingly all night.   We stood around a high table, guzzled Sangria and chomped down delicious Tapas.  I love the Med, for me, this is what it is all about.  Being with friends, old and new, on warm evenings, feasting, drinking, laughing.  A magician even came over at one point and produced some of the best magic I’ve ever witnessed that isn’t on a Dynamo YouTube vid.

Time flew past as the wine dwindled, the clock ticked way past midnight, and from somewhere came the suggestion that we step things up a notch and hit up Pacha, the legendary and oldest club in Ibiza.  We all had planes and boats to catch early the next morning, surely not?  Lads?  Really?  Fuck, we’re doing this aren’t we… Oh I’m in a cab.  Oh I’m in the club.  How did that happen?  Excellent.  Let’s fucking do this!

I’ve heard it claimed that Pacha is the original superclub, not just in Ibiza, but in the world.  It was built in 1973, and was designed to look like a farmhouse.  Let that sink in, it is a 46 year old night club.  It should, by the very nature of its age be shit, but let me assure you, it definitely is not shit.  It has charm and character in droves.  I absolutely love it. When you first walk in it should feel like a quaint old Spanish tapas restaurant, with white walls, tiled floors, and trinkets hanging on the walls.  Except it doesn’t, because when you walk in you get hit with the deepest baselines and the most dazzling lights.

I was dressed completely inappropriately for the venue, I had on chino shorts, a smartish short-sleeved shirt and canvas espadrilles with a very thin rubber sole.  You know, perfect attire for a nice civilised meal in the town square.

But none of any that above mattered on Sunday night.  A Bosnian DJ who goes by the name of Solomun was playing the entire night’s set, all 6 hours of it.  And fuck me, it was INSANELY GOOD.  It wasn’t even my type of music!  I love Trance music, music that builds layers upon layers, interjects the occasional melodic vocals, music that slows down unexpectedly to shock you into life, and then just as you get comfortable, explodes into massive bouts of heart-bursting euphoria.  That is my music of choice, but what this Bosnian nutjob was spinning on Sunday just blew my bloody head off.  I went off to google later to find out how to classify what it was that almost sent me over the edge and into Heaven.  Wikipedia states: “house music, but with deep, ultra funky basslines, euphoric melodies and emotionally charged vocals”.

To be honest with you, dear reader, classification of the genre doesn’t really matter, what matters, is that as I stood on that dancefloor at 6.30am, my clothes drenched in sweat and my shoes ruined, I looked up to the darkened roof of the club and felt nothing but exhausted, blissful, unadulterated joy.  We, the collective masses, gave that historic dancefloor everything it, and this incredible DJ deserved.  Together, the thousands of us pounded ourselves like madmen and women into a higher consciousness.  I don’t know, maybe I’m getting a tad carried away there, but as I sit here in the chill zone of a surprisingly swanky Barcelona hostel and reflect, four days on, I feel that something special happened on that dancefloor.  Part of me stood there as the night drew to a close and felt like exploding with joy.  I had this overwhelming sense that the joy was within me.  I didn’t need a dancefloor or a superstar DJ, or 3000 other ravers, or the best nightclub in the world to find this joy.  The joy was us, the people, a collective consciousness.

The joy is within all of us, sometimes we just need a little help reconnecting with it, and with each other.

Love,

Chris