It’s almost as if I spoke too soon. On Wednesday night, my final night Sitges, things finally, unpredictably, began to go my way. I left the hotel and sat myself in the gay area round the corner for the second night running, knowing that this quandary I’d found myself in concerning sex for the past year or so had to be resolved, one way or another. I couldn’t leave Sitges without having met someone who found me as attractive as I found them. There’s a reason why every gay man goes to Sitges at some point in their life: leaving with celibacy intact would have been like going to the largest ice cream parlour in the world and not having an ice cream. So my determination to turn my fortunes around became steely and defiant on Wednesday night. If I saw anyone I liked the look of I wasn’t going to turn away in shame like I always do – I was going to keep looking, as confidently and appealingly as I could.
After dinner in an expensive but nice, gay-run restaurant in the very heart of the town I headed straight for a little club called Queens that the London couple I’d met on Tuesday night had recommended to me. Inside I was immediately impressed by the sparkling décor, attractive bar staff and the recognisable party music. One of the guys I spoke to on Tuesday had complained about the fact that so many of these places tend to play exclusively English music, as opposed to local Spanish music. I could see his point, but on Wednesday it was ultimately a relief to hear those songs by the Black Eyed Peas and Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga. It helped me loosen up, enjoy myself a bit more than I might have done.
When they played ‘Alejandro’ the dancefloor immediately filled up and I decided to join everyone else there; by the time it got to the chorus I could hardly stop myself from dancing wildly. I could have been in any gay club in London. For the first time all week I felt at home. All the anxieties about being on my own in a foreign country slipped away. I didn’t feel the slightest bit like an ugly, loner freak as I threw my arms around and sang the words with the rest of the club. At that moment I remembered, for the first time in years, what is so good about the gay scene. At all other times it can be a cold, bitchy and judgmental kind of place. But when such a song is played and everyone is dancing close up, singing all the words at the same time, that elusive sense of community is definitely there. It may only be fleeting and momentary, but it’s there. The music puts it there.
After the song was over I saw the guy I had seen the night before, the one who looked like my first ever lover (his name was Peter, had a really thick Norwich accent, looked like a miniscule truck driver, had to be at least twice my age, completely inappropriate lover material but something, I never knew what, attracted me to him. And he was always good to me, even after I lost interest in him and treated him like a piece of dirt on my shoe for a while.) Something about the atmosphere in the club on Wednesday night, or the memories of Peter, made me stand near this guy and start smiling at him. It took another two hours before I could finally break the remaining barriers of fear and talk to him, but from the moment I saw him it seemed inevitable that something would happen.
And, at 2 in the morning, with Kelis’s brilliant ‘Acapella’ coming loudly out of the speaker above us, things did happen. I quickly learned that the guy, David, was French, on holiday in Sitges for the week just like me. Then by the time the chorus kicked in we were in each other’s arms, kissing slowly, passionately. The moment was perfect. We continued to embrace for another hour or so until we were practically taking each other’s clothes off; eventually I suggested adjourning to my hotel room where we could carry on in private. As I took his hand and led him out of the club more memories flooded back, memories of my first ever time in G-A-Y, London, 2002, when I was smothered with kisses on the dance floor by a beautiful Spanish man called Carlos. Though I never saw Carlos again after that night nearly eight years ago, it was a night I’ll always remember with great fondness, for it was truly romantic to me, even though it took place in a club that most people think of as quite tacky. No night after that ever felt quite as romantic or thrilling – until this week.
David and I only had a few hours together that night. At the break of dawn his phone began to ring and he told me that he had to go and let the person he was staying with into the flat where they were staying. We’d left that person at the club hours before, hoping they’d want to stay out as long as possible. Just as he was leaving David wrote his phone number and e-mail address on a piece of paper for me, which I thought was nice of him. For some time I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the contact details. I liked the guy, and we’d had a great time together, but something told me that the romance of the situation couldn’t possibly survive outside of Sitges. He lives in France, for a start, and I clearly don’t.
That didn’t stop me from heading to the internet café first thing the next morning to write him an e-mail. To say I was a little disappointed when the e-mail bounced back may be an understatement. For a moment I may have been heartbroken. I had stupidly thought that an e-mail address meant I would be able to see this person again and have something good develop in my life, but no. I tried changing various letters in the address, adding numbers, moving the @ sign around, to no avail. After ten attempts to send, and ten bounced e-mails from the postmaster, I had to give up. I also had a phone number that I could send a text message to, but by that point I didn’t see the point in trying. I didn’t want to send an expensive text message to someone who couldn’t write his own e-mail address properly. At that point I decided that my brief holiday romance ought to be left at just that. I didn’t need to spoil it by trying to extend it or make it into something more.
At that point, something changed in me, and my final day in Spain was nothing like the first five days. The bubble of anxiety that had encased me was burst, and finally I could relax. I’d proved that I could find a lover anywhere, if I was just willing to put the effort in. I’d had a lovely night, I’d got what I wanted. I would be able to go home with fond memories of Sitges, rather than painful ones. Coming home to the rain and the cold wouldn’t be so bad because I’d know that, even if I never see that guy again, there would be plenty more like him in the world.
The fear I experience every time I meet someone like David, someone actually likeable and attractive, comes from the belief that there’ll never be another one like that. Now I can be almost certain that there will be more like him. I’ve met enough nice guys now to know that I have nothing to worry about. No, I haven’t yet met one who stuck around long enough to be called a ‘boyfriend’, but I’ve realised in recent recovery that I don’t really need or want that. A lover I can call on regularly, someone like David who I can see at weekends, that would be great. I think that’s all I actually need. If I can find the confidence to dance next to a perfect stranger in a nightclub in Spain all night then perhaps anything is possible.