Ocaña — Barcelona, Spain
The first thing you notice when you approach Ocaña is an oasis of style seeping out into the tourist wasteland that is Barcelona’s Plaça Reial. Old schoolroom tables spill onto the terraza, and the waiters and bartenders are more LA bike messenger than starched-shirt-and-waistcoat. The second thing you notice - if you’re a local - is that the splendidly crumbling bar/restaurant/club complex is named after José Pérez Ocaña, activist, artist and important figure in bringing homosexual rights to post-Franco Spain. He lived next door. Inside, Ocaña looks like a vintage furniture store within a fading, gilded birdcage. Bent plywood chairs join worn red velvet armchairs and chromed-steel floor lamps, and owner Joaquima Laguna has managed to cram in every single one of the Les Pic Original chandeliers she found in a Paris flea market. In contrast, the stairways and in-between spaces are brutal concrete blocks with rusting steel rebar banisters. Like Barcelona itself, the place is quite a mix.