Recently, as research for a travel magazine article, we had to pound the Veronica’s and Starco’s beat in Playa de las Américas.
For years Playa de las Américas has been tagged with the cheap and tacky, bad boy image of Tenerife mainly thanks to a TV show which focussed on the wild and boozy nightlife around this one smallish area of the resort.
We’ve had nights out in Las Américas and Costa Adeje before but not around Veronica’s as it’s generally aimed at the younger end of the holiday market. The writing commission gave us the opportunity to see how the real thing compared to the image.
A night out in Las Américas or Costa Adeje is a very different animal to a night out in Santa Cruz or even Puerto de la Cruz. In Las Américas and Costa Adeje, nightlife is generally geared around the holidaymaker so, if you’re on holiday from Britain, the sounds are all comfortably familiar and the people around you are mainly British. In Santa Cruz nightlife is geared to the locals. Even in Puerto, which doubles as a tourist resort, the hub of the nocturnal scene is found in bars aimed at the local population – it’s a different scene with different music. So right from the start there’s a contrasting ambience.
First of all there’s the question of Veronica’s and Starco’s – holiday hell or heaven? If I was eighteen and on holiday, I’d happily spend my time around Veronica’s. The bars are modern, quite sexy and play good music. We probably didn’t see it at its wildest over the two nights we spent bar hopping there, but it wasn’t the out of control wild child that I often read about. Generally the atmosphere was one of people having a good time on holiday. There was certainly nothing intimidating about it. A newspaper reporter looking for a sordid Tenerife story would have been seriously disappointed.
Even the PRs were pleasant enough – sure they weren’t falling over themselves to drag us into one of the bars as we clearly weren’t their target market, but the ones we spoke to seemed like decent young people.
But how they ‘sold’ the bars to us highlighted a chasm between Veronica’s and the places where we normally trip the light fantastic.
A couple of PRs promoted their particular bars by saying that there was a bouncing atmosphere, the music was great and – wait for it – they didn’t let any Spanish in. It was a statement that had me reeling, but then I remembered what a Canarian friend told me a few years ago. As a young man he had worked in a hotel in Playa de las Américas. When he and his friends went out at night there were bars that were ‘off-limits’ to them, bars where Spanish weren’t allowed in. I was outraged on his behalf when he told me this but he merely shrugged as if to say ‘that’s just the way things are’.
When the first PR said this, we delved a bit further. Like I said, the ‘no Spanish’ rule was obviously a selling point and he happily pointed out the bars that operated this rule thinking that this little peach was going to influence where we chose. In a way he was correct.
I was, and still am, gobsmacked by this. Imagine if, in Britain, you went to a bar and were told you weren’t allowed in because you were British? The newspapers would have a field day.
When I commented that it was a bit off that people were barred from bars on their own island he looked at me with a completely bemused expression.
The cultural differences were reinforced the following night in a cabaret bar packed with British holidaymakers in Starco’s . Halfway through his act the singer said something that was much funnier than anything the comedian that had been on before him had said.
After he finished a Take That number he leaned into the microphone and announced ‘Ladies, remember to keep an eye on your purses and handbags… there are a lot of foreigners about.’
There are a lot of foreigners about – said, without the slightest hint of irony, to a British audience on a Spanish island off the coast of Africa.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed our two nights bar and club hopping around Veronica’s and we met some really clued up, professional bar and club managers in venues which cater for everybody irrespective of nationality.
But there are also those who seem to have no idea that they are living and working in a Spanish Province – it is quite bizarre and another example of Tenerife’s many different faces.