Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dean’s Bar, Tangier.

I went first in 90 or 91.
I was told to by La Directrice of the gallery hosting my exhibition.
‘You’ve got to go and have a look’ she said, and La Directrice liked bars.
‘I’m not coming I don’t like’ she’d concluded shortly.
She didn’t tell me why I should and when I went, I was none the wiser. Then, there were other bars in Tangier, wilder, rougher, funkier, classier, some Moroccan and La Directrice and I liked those better, drinking with dangerous people drinking. I didn’t understand the fading echos of Tangier’s edge of law haven heyday time; wild, exotic, cheap, corrupting, corruptible, accessible and easy to escape to and from. I saw the old guard around town, a trifle distressed I’d thought, elegant in their outmoded suits. I saw a few that evening at Dean’s Bar and more at my opening.
I’d imagined never to come back to Tangier. The world is huge, there are places else I haven’t been and I’d liked it here so why overlay the good memories by returning?
It wasn’t Dean’s Bar that brought me and it isn’t painting, but paintings I have painted of this city beckon anew with the self-same allure. It is the accident of a vacant available apartment, poor planning and so to Tangier, winter 2010, humid, cold and ready with rain.
The Medina smells of wet wool the night I go to Dean’s Bar again.
Two small rooms knocked into one. The bar still occupies one side of the first, to the right as you enter through a bead curtain. Tiles clad the walls to shoulder height, white and blue in the main, rather public lavatorial in a way and cool against a hot summer night.
Tables range down the left and all around the back space. The side tables are taken by Tangaoue, all men of course and my friends are ensconced at the back far left corner. There’s no choice but to take a seat facing them so there is less chance to observe. They are drinking, they have tapas and what bliss, they are smoking cigarettes. I order a bottle of Guerrouane which is brought to the table. Being Brit, any service in a bar catches me unawares. By my glass by the ashtray, more tapas arrives including delicious piping hot whitebait. Young Spanish fill up the remaining tables, one woman very drunk very loud, and my American friend sucks in her cheeks saying ‘Oh dear.’ She disparages the day-tripping Spanish from Algeciras and Tarifa, calling them ‘The Boat People.’ There are other boat people in Tangier all traveling one-way, strapped into blacked out high-speed inflatables and paying desperate fee for a one in x chance of gaining entry to Europe. Captured craft line the police jetty in the port.
Dean’s has, I am told, the cleanest facilities this side of the Minzah, ‘spotless’, but I had no call. The Moroccans look coolly interested and mildly unimpressed, but coming to a joint like this at all, and in a city like this, they know the score. I sense they would like more action, better entertainment and more to have to talk about and that’s pretty much how I feel about it. This is the trouble with pubs where famous people drank and famous times were had, they aren’t there now and we bring our ghosts and eke them out of the bottle.
We’re happening now and it we make it in Dean’s Bar, Tangier.

Monday, 1 February 2010


I am being walked and talked around this strange town I used to know. The gossip is a morass of names without faces. I lag, wading in clods of incomprehension. Different people share the same name and I sink over my boots.
It is so simple - she lives here, he did, they do, he’s, she’s - understand?

carolina urra

No. I’d hazard a yes in hope, but … no.
Not yet, I need more time on the gossip treadmill, incline-talking to fit me for social purpose.
No room for me to interject me, my I is unnecessary, I’m easily identifiable as the one who’s new and knows nothing and no-ones names.