Phenomenon ‘chatting in the open air’ to be immortalised by a Spanish village?

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old men chatting in the open air on a bench in Spain. Image: Nigeal Graver/

A village wishes to preserve the phenomenon of ‘chatting in the open air’ for posterity by declaring it an intangible heritage of humanity. Initiators fear the habit will disappear as technology dominates social life.

Algar is a small town in the province of Cádiz with just over 1,400 souls. Here, in the summer, when the sun sets and temperatures drop, residents have a habit of opening the door of their home, taking the chair outside and  talking with family, friends or neighbours. The social network of all times, so to speak.

“What you’re doing is gossiping and talking about everyday things,” said Jose Carlos Sánchez, the mayor of Algar. “Whether the pool is open, what the weather will do, what the physical complaint is like, etc”. According to the mayor, television, social networks and screens threaten that habit.

Chatting in the open air – the first social network

In Algar, they believe this first social network, so old that its origins are lost in time, and the most enduring of all social networks, should not disappear.

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“I saw it getting less,” continues the mayor. “Part of the population, the elderly, kept the tradition alive, but a larger part of the population did not. Our motto is that social networks should not end one of our most popular traditions.

That is why the city council has decided to submit the ‘charla al fresco’ as a candidate to be named an intangible heritage of humanity. “We got the idea from an article titled ‘On the road with Unesco’,” explains Sanchez. “I contacted the Junta de Andalucía and we have started the file for the application.”

Massive support in the village

Last Friday, the mayor asked residents of his village to take to the streets to support the initiative. That request was answered unanimously and enthusiastically. Young and old put their screens aside and populated the streets live and with a mask on. That was a more than satisfying experience, according to the mayor. The process continues, giving residents something new to discuss during their outdoor chat.

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