We have always been a frontier: Icària neighbourhood, before becoming the Vila Olìmpica

Donde ahora está el Port Olímpic, en febrero de 1986.

“When we felt like, there, one played the accordion, another… the radio, or whatever; and there was a man that had a bar called The Glory, he played violin very very well. And that man was happy, he picked his violin, he cleaned it, and there he was sitting and playing violin, and all the other folks dancing” (p.42)

How were the popular neighbourhoods of Barcelona in the Eighties? Those of us who weren’t lucky enough to know Barcelona before the Olympic Games, now have few chances of catching something of that life before tourism, of that glory before fame. We had been looking for this document for years, and finally our comrade Gabriela Navas Perrone found it, nothing less than in Barcelona’s Institute of Archeology (sic!): the study “Historia y vida cotidiana, el barrio de Icària, futura Vila Olímpica”, early work of the anthropologist Concha DONCEL, who in 1988, under a commission of Vila Olímpica 92 S.A. interviewed the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Icària, now disappeared, taking witness of the existence of a cosy and familiar landscape in that area threatened by eviction since 1965’s Plan de la Ribera. According to the official version of history, in that part of the seaside strategically placed between the city centre and Poblenou, “there was nothing”, with the exception of some neglected factories; while  “the nothing” is exactly what there is now, that life disappeared to leave place to concrete and planned entertainment. “It changed when they began to remove the shanties. We all were more afraid to go into the streets, because there no longer was that good atmosphere. Maybe also because we bought our TVs, or for any other reasons we stayed more at home” (p.43).