Let's face it - you're never quite alone in Barcelona. The city sees something around 7 million visitors a year, and the current plan from the city council, the so-called Ajuntament, is more of that. However, the focus has changed and Barcelona is aiming for the family tourist dollars. Many squares downtown has been given playgrounds, and the council aims to make it less attractive for the party tourists, who so far have been pouring their money into the city coffers.
The city has been gaining popularity since the 1992 Olympics transformed the coastline from drab industrial estates to a proper marina with great beaches. Barcelona sees about 7 million tourists a year, attracted by reasonable prices, good weather and great cultural experiences, from watching the "army without weapons" FC Barcelona at Camp Nou, to great museums like the Fundacio Joan Miro. The economic powerhouse of Spain, Barcelona has not been spared the ill effects of the country-wide recession, but still manages a certain elegance and ease of life. In recent years, the city council has curtailed the spontaneous parties that Barcelona was known for, but there's still lots on - if you know where to look.
In practical terms, that means that the many street parties of yore, the spontaneous raves in equally spontaneous squats are mostly gone. Or at least sent to the suburbs, in comfortable distance of the family-friendly attractions. That said, however, Barcelona still offers a bit of everything, and it's really just a matter of priorities to find them, rather than the underground and alternative scenes being dead.