This article originally appeared on VICE Spain
When I visited the Spanish town of Salamanca this spring, I was amazed by the amount of mankinis and people running around the town centre with huge inflatable dicks attached to their heads. You see, Salamanca's proximity to Madrid and the lure of "student-priced" drinks have in latter years transformed it into a kind of Spanish Disneyland for stag and hen parties.
A quick Google search of 'Salamanca' and 'stag night' will pull up an endless list of agencies ready and willing to organise a proper do for you — at next to no cost. They all boast more or less the same things: hotel, dinner, a show and some curious countryside excursion that involves go-karts or bulls or both. Of course, they all climax with the rather predictable strip show, which they claim is optional.
Miguel is the owner of such a party business. I wanted to know more about his day job so I got in touch and asked if he could break it down for me. He was more than happy to do so and suggested I should accompany him and his two strippers on one of their regular working days. Naturally, I jumped at the prospect.
I agreed to meet up with him, Sara Luengo and Elsa Mor at a local supermarket. After a quick exchange of pleasantries, we took off to nearby León where they would be hosting the first of the night's 10 shows.
Miguel drove, chewing down donuts while dictating the evening's plans to Sara, who helped him put the final bits and pieces in order. I only glanced at the speedometer once and very quickly decided that I wouldn't be doing that again.
Finally, we arrived at a restaurant. The girls used the toilet as a makeshift changing room so they could prepare themselves to invade the groom's dinner party. First Sara and then Elsa – the promotion had boasted two women for the price of one.
Twenty minutes later, we were already on our way to another bachelor party in a flat back in Salamanca. A friendly-looking guy was waiting for us by the doorway. He looked like the kind of chap who'd probably read a lot of comics in his life. As we walked inside, he whispered to Sara asking if she could put a Star Wars mask on for the dance.
Things got pretty weird, pretty quickly. Sara waltzed into the room wearing a nurse outfit and a robot mask to the 'Imperial March' which was playing, barely audible, from an iPhone on the kitchen table. The stag sat almost motionless in the middle of the room, completely perplexed.
Minutes later, Sara got dressed and we headed to a place called Ñaka Ñaka – a prestigious steak restaurant that had been specially repurposed for occasions like this. The establishment's subtle logo depicted a multitude of dicks in almost every state of emotion: the smiling penis, the angry penis, the surprised penis – a penis for every occasion if you will. Miguel's agency uses this spot often for up to 10 stag parties a night.
It doesn't take long to understand why people drink so heavily at these things. You would too if you were decked out in a pink tutu. Alcohol takes the edge off, the embarrassment — both for you and everyone else.
Miguel and his staff don't seem embarrassed, though; they've seen it all before. On these special evenings, Elsa doubles as a DJ and Miguel as a magician. He tells me that's his way of livening up the crowd. People sing and applaud and generally get involved.
For dessert, the strippers spice things up a bit and Elsa offers her cleavage for the guys to eat their cake off. Sara took me aside and quietly offered some very valuable advice: "If a stripper asks you to eat anything off her chest, don't. You're probably the fifth person to lick the exact same spot that day."
Elsa stomped over angrily — apparently the bachelor, who liked to be referred to as 'Peppa Pig', had stained her ass with paint.
"Is it too dirty?" she asked while I tried not to stare.
The luxurious evening included a drink at a club called Peter's, a themed spot cleverly decorated to resemble Neverland. Captain Hook's cabin is reserved for private striptease.
It was around this point, I began gasping for an energy drink. Sara certainly didn't need anything. Her energy never seemed to fade.
I asked Miguel if Sara ever got tired and he politely answered: "She certainly doesn't get tired of counting cash."
Fair enough. Even though it was 4 in the morning, there was still one more show to do and it was a few miles away. When we arrived at the address we'd been given, there was a bunch of real lads waiting in a car for us. They seemed to have been drinking all day long. I was a bit frightened so I asked Miguel if they're ever scared of going out to these things alone.
"I have ways of defending myself," he reassured me while advising me not to drink anything they offer.
In the end, the guys were actually quite nice and even blushed during the striptease. They offered me a drink but, like a good boy, I refused.
When I finally got back to Madrid, I was both shattered and amazed. I felt like I had just about crossed something off my bucket list, but I needed to take it that one step further to really be able to say that I'd experienced it. I needed to "walk a mile in their shoes" (maybe more like their penis costumes) before I could really understand the guilty pleasure of the Salamanca bachelor party. So I decided to do it.
Given that none of my mates was getting married any time soon, my roommate needed to be the victim. All of my friends were into the idea. We wanted it to be as real as possible, so we booked a spot in Salamanca and printed up a bunch of t-shirts with "Sorry ladies, Roberto is getting married" scrawled across them in Comic Sans.
That morning, we surprised him by bursting into his bedroom screaming "Congratulations".
All of this would be weird enough for any actual bachelor; so you can imagine the look on Roberto's face when we burst through the door. The initial shock rapidly faded out into general annoyance and he wanted us out of his house. Luckily, peer pressure won and we forced him out of bed and into the inflatable Michelin Man costume we'd gotten him.
Arriving in Salamanca, I came across even more stag parties than the previous week. Roberto quickly became the centre of attention. People began shouting things at him and all the ladies from the hen parties wanted to snap a picture with the Michelin Man.
All of this encouragement just spurred him on. All of a sudden it had gone full circle and he got into the whole thing.
Miguel had booked us a table at Ñaka Ñaka — which, believe it or not, actually serves great food. After having emptied the free bar for Sangria, we were accosted by a bunch of reps who fought over us for their clubs. Roberto desperately tried to score girls with the whole "it's my last night of freedom" act. Unfortunately, he was getting nowhere and when he tried to flip the coin by saying that he wasn't actually getting married, all he scored was a tap on the shoulder and a pitiful "yeah, right".
Completely trashed, we went to sleep. It'd been nearly 16 hours of constant partying. In Salamanca, stag and hen parties are perfectly planned so you always know what to do. If you let yourself go, it's great.