Spanish students cause a stir in their search for ‘picaderos’

3 Apr

Those who have lived or travelled in Spain will know that the Spanish are hardly shy of a good public display of affection, especially when the sun is shining on Madrid’s Retiro park. But Spanish students have recently made headlines with their search for ‘picaderos’, or places to have sex, and certain universities are scrambling to stem the trend.

Joke warning for a national picadero

For many years the Complutense University campus, situated in the vast Ciudad Universtaria in the North West of Madrid, has operated as a university by day, but something very different by night. A recent article in El Mundo revealed the extent to which the campus is used by students for sex, claiming, in a somewhat mocking tone, that “any area that is slightly dark and away from the road is a suitable place to unleash your passion”. [“Cualquier zona que esté algo oscura y apartada del tránsito es un lugar idóneo para desatar la pasión.”] The article implies these students’ escapades outdo George Michael in “Let’s go outside”, and we all know where that adventurous attitude landed him.

If El Mundo is on some kind of moral campaign to stamp out this sex ‘al fresco’, they’re sure to lose. Not just students, but adults all over Spain in search of a good picadero have taken their search multimedia thanks to a site much like Google Maps, devoted to helping people locate the best places for shagging. The site,, was created by Josean Gutiérrez, 35, who felt it could prove useful to frisky students. There are over 6,000 people registered on the site and it’s growing in popularity. Each week five or six new locations are added. Gutiérrez said: “It was born as an experiment and it turned out to be useful and people think it’s quite a fun idea.” [“Nació como un experimento y resulta que está siendo útil y a la gente le parece graciosa la idea”] He’s also created an app for the iPhone and Android.

The site is said to be styled on Google Maps

The University of Alcalá de Henares recently launched a policy of closing part of the campus at night to prevent this behaviour. But the Complutense argues that Ciudad Universitaria is “just another street in Madrid”, and closing it would be impractical. It has been urged to up security and possibly introduce night patrols, but the university said: “we cannot put a guard in every department to control what people do”. The Complutense suggested the city council take responsibility.

El Mundo readers criticised the article for its derogatory tone, and claimed picaderos have gone on for years at the Complutense; one reader claims for at least 40 years. Another reader, PepeLeches, commented: “as if this were anything new, come on.” [“Como si esto fuera nuevo, vamos.”] Pangeat said: “And what’s wrong with this? Are we now going to prohibit a couple who want some privacy in their own car?” [“y que tiene de malo eso? es que vamos a prohibir ahora que una parejita encuentre un poco de intimidad dentro de un coche?”]

They have a point. With over 40% of young adults unemployed in Spain, many are forced to live with their parents and have nowhere to go for a bit of privacy. The debate over picaderos is backed by the same conservatives who oppose the PSOE’s liberalism. Not that these youngsters’ sexual encounters have political backing, but Zapatero’s Spain is more liberal than many may like. And thank god it is. The government can encroach on people’s personal freedoms to some extent, but this is an area where they won’t succeed. As far as HispanicLondon is concerned, we say vivan los picaderos! And if you want to see the global version of Gutiérrez’s site, check out:

Image 1: Chistemania

Image 2: El Mundo


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