Let’s just start by saying, Spanish nightlife is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
It’s not that it’s especially exclusive, super wild & crazy, or even particularly rowdy. It’s your pretty typical nightlife scene. You’ll find a diverse variety of bars and clubs, with a wide selection of music, both inexpensive and pricey options, lots of drinking & great dancing…
What sets Spanish nightlife apart is duration.
(Okay, I’ll admit, it’s pretty crazy too …. )
I’ve been out in Prague, Munich, New York and Vegas- and none of these notorious party cities have come close to matching Madrid’s, Barcelona’s, Granada’s, or even Valencia’s, I guess we’ll call it- nightlife endurance.
Spanish people drink to last. They drink slowly, over a long period of time and they know how to pace themselves (for the most part). Spaniards drink as much, if not more, than us Americans, the difference is they’re not “rippin’” shots, popping holes in the sides of their beer cans, or challenging each other to flip cup races. This doesn’t make them any less fun, it simply allows them to sustain themselves… all.. damn… night….
These people have some real stamina. They’re in it for the duration.
Sorry New York, I love ya, but I’ve found an entire country more deserving of your nickname.
Disagree? Check out my Spanish nightlife schedule below and decide for yourself.
The time of dinner in Spain is much later than the rest of the world, especially on the weekends. On week nights Spaniards will indulge in their nightly feast around 9PM, while on the weekends, dinner plans are made as late as 11PM or even 12AM! Some restaurants won’t even open their doors until around 9PM. Getting such a late start to the last meal of the day definitely pushes everything else back significantly.
Depending on when and where dinner is eaten, this is the time that Spaniards will prepare for the rest of the night. This includes showers, running to a nearby ‘chino’ to pick up alcohol, meeting with friends before going out and sometimes even, a quick nap is savored. Whatever it is, this is the time where Spaniards prepare for what is to come.
In Spain, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a friend’s apartment to go to for the ‘pregame.’ Still, as many people live with their parents, until later than us Americans are used to, the norm is still the botellón. A botellón is a Spanish tradition that involves young people meeting for their ‘before-disco’ drinks- usually in the streets or in parks. (If its cold or raining, they’ll head to a cheap bar). It stems from a sort of ‘protest’ against the rising prices of alcohol in bars and clubs, so young people will often spend a few hours drinking before heading out to avoid dropping some major cash later on.
*Drinking in the streets is NOT legal in Spain. (Still, no one seems to mind much …)
Anywhere from 3:00-4:30AM people will start heading to the clubs. Yeah, I know. In most parts of the world, this is when people are heading home from the clubs, or already happily snoozing off their blurry buzz. If you get to a club in Spain before 3AM, expect to warm up the dance floor for a while until the Spaniards start to trickle in.
*To anyone who didn’t catch the above Pitbull reference, that would be the newest song to hit Spain- ‘El Taxi.’
Finally, you’ve made it to the club. Most partygoers will stay at the discoteca until at least 6AM. After 6AM is when you’ll start to see people slowly begin to filter out. I’ve been in clubs that were pretty damn full until 7AM. With no windows to observe the rising sun and all the others still ‘going hard’ around you, you won’t even realize that it’s 7. Club owners will rarely turn on the lights and send everyone home. At least not until mid-morning.
Yet another English word comically incorporated into the Spanish culture. If you hear someone muttering to a friend that they are going to ‘an after,’ they are referring to an after party. This type of party is usually an occasional experience, but for some people, it has become just another part of their nightlife routine. You will find ‘afters’ back at apartments, on the side of the street, or there are even clubs specifically designed to host these ‘afters,’ only opening after the other clubs have closed. These after parties go late into the morning and can even last into the afternoon. If you’re not an after person, you mostly likely head to the nearest 24hr fast-food joint (Papizza, TaKo Away, McDonalds or if you’re classy- chocolate con churros at Madrid’s famous San Gines) before calling it a night… well morning.
What do you think of the Spanish nightlife schedule? How does it compare to the nightlife you’re used to?
Would you enjoy it, or do you think it would be too much?