If you are between the ages 14-18, and you live in Spain, chances are good that you believe your space should be a public space. The latest round of "bottelons" -- outdoor drinking parties in Spanish cities -- took over public spaces in 20 Spanish cities on Friday, with "mixed" results, depending on your perspective. In cities like Barcelona, things got really ugly as revellers and police skirmished on the streets; there were fires, looting, injuries, and arrests. In Granada, where city officials chose not to oppose the get-togethers and went so far as to designate a public area, things were mellow.
What strikes us most is how this national Spanish phenomenon appears to be driven by some of the same forces that are stoking online communities in the U.S. -- the wide adoption of online communication tools for self-organization (emails and chatrooms are helping people to organize these events), an element of competition (there was a contest regarding which city could hold the biggest botellon of all on Friday), and, yes, the in-your-face nature of this movement which has got to be leaving both Spanish parents and marketers in awe.
What we are hearing in news reports is the dark side of ad hoc communities, which, as Forrester recently noted, are beginning to challenge institutional power everywhere. But the lesson in Granada is that institutions do not have to oppose this power. And there is nothing like institutional/parental consent to make a rebellious act seem uncool ("Hey kids -- anyone ready for some Sunny-D?)."