End of the pandemic, the big Spanish summer is back and, with it, a horrible, dangerous and silly fashion: the balconing.
It took me years to discover that this was how they described what “guiris” (foreigners) did, basically young matchos, in mass tourist resorts like Salou and Lloret de Mar (on the Mediterranean peninsular coast) and Balearic islands like Mallorca and Ibiza.
Basically, the “sport” consists of jumping between balconies of hotel rooms or tourist apartments, or jumping from a balcony into a swimming pool.
The motivation? To be drunk or muy loko, to want to strut about prozamigo, to be frankly imbecile.
The first fatality of balconing in Spain in 2022 was a 34-year-old British tourist, who died in late May when he jumped drunk from a seventh-floor balcony on the Balearic island of Mallorca, in the small but forceful town of Magaluf, known as “the Queen of the Night”. thanks to the brutal tourism it has received for years.
Days before him, an Irishman was also hospitalized in serious condition after falling from a nearby second floor. Guess what: drunk too.
There are countless cases. In August, a few days ago, three Dutch men around the age of 25 were kicked out of a hotel in Palma de Mallorca and fined. Reason: balconing to “steal” a shisha from a neighboring apartment on the third floor.
AGAINST ‘EXCESS TOURISM’
The fashion started at least 17 to 20 years ago. The expansion of international tourism after the 1992 Olympics in Spain turned the country into a favorite destination for bartenders, who each year bring us unpleasant or directly tragic news of accidents, deaths, and irreversible consequences.
Over the years, the tourism sector has adopted various measures in an attempt to control the situation, from raising the height of the railings on the balconies of tourist apartments or limiting alcohol consumption to creating a public list of personas non grata troublemakers.
In 2020, the Balearic government passed the Law against Excess Tourism. Since then, the practice of balconing can be punished with expulsion from the establishment and a fine of between 6,000 and 60,000 euros.
‘MAMADING’ AND BEVERAGE TOURISM
Since the world has been a world, the arc has been there, with other drugs, leading human beings to do the greatest nonsense and temerity.
Like ‘mamading’ (that’s right, dear ones), a term that horribly became fashionable in 2014, when an 18-year-old girl performed oral sex on 23 people in a pub on the aforementioned Fantasy Island Gringa Xovem de Magaluf in exchange for a few drinks .
Much indignation and scandal later came local measures such as banning the pub crawling (aka drinking until you drop from bar to bar) and the hourly restriction of alcohol consumption on the streets.
In Spain, the so-called “tourism of rubber” (drinking) is one of the worst on the European continent, thanks to friendly prices and sun.
Even improbable destinations such as the secular Santiago de Compostela, the final whereabouts of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, have become scenarios for balconing, thanks to the tourist massification. In early August, tourists were fined for the practice in the city.
With the end of the pandemic, there are still no official data on the victims of the balconing in the country, but it is certain that dozens of people are seriously injured or killed each summer by jumping dangerously to who knows where.
THE ‘ZAMBULLIDAS’: DANGEROUS DIVES
The victims of balconing are confused with statistics on accidents caused by ‘zambullidas’ — diving in pools, rivers, lakes and the open sea.
According to Lluisa Montesinos, head of the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, one of the largest in Spain, each year the institution treats two to five victims of zambullidas.
In general, they are men aged 15 to 35 years who suffer “very serious spinal injuries, which radically change the life of a person and their family. Only 5% of those injured can recover”, he says.
According to data from the Professional College of Physiotherapists of Madrid (CPFCM), about 6% of the 800 to 1000 spinal cord injuries in Spain each year are due to zambullidas reckless acts, in general perpetrated by people under 30 years old, between the fiery months of July and August, when hardcore of the tourist summer in the country. Only one in 5 victims are women.
In the case of diving in pools, Montesinos exemplifies, “sometimes one of the main characteristics of water is not considered, the surface tension, which makes it like a stone when it hits it”.
“Other accidents are not preventable, but in the case of zambullidas minimal precautions are sufficient. If we want to have fun for the rest of our lives, we must avoid certain stunts or jumps,” she says.
In case of balconingalthough there is no solid data to compare, a satirical Twitter account of such an International Federation of counter recently released a kind of ranking which rescues all cases since 2004.
First place, with ‘honours’: United Kingdom, with 189 floors of fall (djizuis), 53 cases and 18 deaths. They are, according to the publication, “absolute and undisputed kings”, and “almost every year they come first”.
The Spaniards complete the top 5 with a shy fourth place — but “they maintain a good position based on low jumps, while also having one of the lowest percentages of deaths”, the post quips.
This conversation reminds me of the time when I lived in Tarragona, just under 2 hours from Barcelona, near Salou, a favorite destination for young foreigners looking for a wild life.
So massive is foreign tourism in Salou that the entire resort looks like a British-festive Disneyland, with English posters, pubs, English breakfasts everywhere and nightclubs.
There is a legend that is widespread among nosotros, prosaic neighbors residents, that many of the foreigners brought in hordes by international agencies to enjoy like hell don’t even know what city, country or galaxy they are in. They come to mock the scheme freely, as they might not have done in their own countries.
Each year, at least one death per balconing, in addition to other serious victims, wins the local news. Crazy young assholes of whatever, leaping into the abyss and never again — literally.
(Follow my profile on Instagram)