LA EXPERIMENTAL // BARCELONA, SPAIN
La Experimental is a squat in a mansion on Tibidabo - a mountain located on the outskirts of Barcelona, which sits behind and watches the entire city. Amid multi-million dollar homes, a giant cathedral and an uncanny amusement park, the squat exists in one of Barcelona's most expensive neighborhoods since February 2015 when about 12 of its members found and resuscitated the abandoned castle. The first time I visited I walked through the entire four story mansion, passing paintings and philosophical quotes drawn onto the walls, through the kitchen filled with food they dumpster dive for or collect from shops throwing "old" food out, through the dining room filled with furniture and a long dining table, and up to the large, open living and performance room which has a small stage, instruments, silks and hammocks hanging from the ceiling and a pile of bean bags which most of the members were scattered over. The atmosphere was so relaxed and peaceful that at first it made me feel awkward, like I had walked in at the wrong time. But almost immediately, Miriam - an Austrian girl with a beautiful voice who clearly had a strong influence on the place - got them all up to start a clowning class, which she asked us to join, so we did. It was a really surreal experience being there, pulled out of your normal routine and pace and into an environment that revolves completely on love, music and maintaining a place and its members that everyone unquestionably cares for. These qualities sound pretty ordinary for a home, but they carry them much farther, and cling onto them with gentle force. There's a level of affection and selflessness that surpasses what we typically experience - they share everything, even a small piece of cake they have to divide into little pieces. Climbing up the creaky wooden steps up to the roof of one of its towers, you look at the whole of Barcelona which has slowly flickered on its lights during dusk when all the colors are melting from the sky into the city, and we talk about the hope they have for this place - a legalized community giving workshops and a refuge for anyone in need.