Some time ago I wrote an article on an aspect of the culture of Spain that truly surprised me when I first came to live here. It concerned the profusion of brothels in Spain which, frankly, are everywhere.
Indeed, almost every town of any size has a brothel, albeit normally on the outskirts of the town concerned and often within a light industrial area. The brothels, in case you are wondering, are extremely obvious (blatant, even) and are housed in buildings that normally have a large neon sign announcing ‘Club’. This is shorthand for ‘brothel’ in Spain and you should be careful not to make the mistake of wandering into one – thinking that you are entering a ‘common or garden’ night club!
I think that the extraordinary thing about Spain is the way that brothels are so obvious, within a country most people perceive to be deeply conservative. Certainly, Spanish brothels are often far from modest places. Some are huge and like large, two or three storey hotels with, literally, dozens of prostitutes.
I touch on the subject because a new brothel in Spain made the national news awhile back because it is, evidently, the biggest brothel in Spain and therefore bears out my comment about the blatant nature of brothels and paid sex in Spain.
The new brothel is located very close to the Spanish/French border at La Jonquera north of Figueras and is a massive 2,700m2 building with 80 rooms. It cost 3 million Euros to build, has 50 staff, a capacity for 558 customers and, would you believe it, 160 prostitutes. In other words, it is a Spanish brothel built on an almost industrial scale.
Of course, you may be wondering how the biggest brothel in Spain manages to avoid the law and the police – particularly given that it is situated only 3kms from a village of 3,100 people and seems to have had a write up in every national newspaper in Spain!
Well, as I have written before, brothels in Spain are neither really legal nor illegal – but can exist so long as they satisfy the authorities that they are really hotels or provide alternative services. In any event, in the case of the biggest brothel in Spain their license was initially turned down and then allowed, on appeal, by the relevant Tribunal Superior. This, I suspect, was an understandable disappointment for the local people - who are said to be ‘resigned’ about the new business that has opened up on their doorstep.
Certainly, there is little subtlety about what the club is really about and it, inevitably, has a web site, albeit that the English is execrable. Nonetheless, the web site gives some idea of the real nature of the ‘club’ from the promise of: ‘rooms you will find glamour and the perfect climax to turn your short whiles of leisure memorable moments’. Perhaps more reassuring to the habitual brothel creeper, is the thought of: ‘ardent girls ready to spend a good short while with you’ in ‘rooms with Jacuzzi to satisfy your more humid desires’ – whatever they may be!
Recently, the club gained some less than favourable publicity when a kilo and a half of heroin was found on the premises in someone’s jacket by the Policia Nacional. However, I suspect that this will do the club little real harm and probably end up as further useful publicity on the basis that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’.
To be honest, I suspect that the biggest brothel in Spain will probably do good business, not least from French customers popping over from France, where brothels are firmly illegal. Meanwhile, I think it is probably well placed to benefit from significant cross-border commercial traffic.
Needless to say, the very profusion of brothels in Spain is an interesting quirk to the culture of Spain with paid sex in Spain something that is common and clearly not likely to be outlawed for some time to come.
Incidentally, in case you are coming to the conclusion that I have an ‘unhealthy’ knowledge of brothels in Spain and paid sex in Spain(!), you may be reassured by the fact that I was commissioned to write a couple of investigative articles on prostitution in Spain a few years ago. The resulting articles (under a nom de plume) provide a more detailed picture of paid sex in Spain and the complexities of the oldest and most notorious profession in the world.