Expat-terns at a Glance

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Expat-terns' Backpacking Club Crawl: Europe Edition

Let's not beat around the bush. Europe is a wonderful continent with an interesting collective history, great food, and spectacular entertainment for all ages. And, it is also littered with numerous dance clubs and halls for all those 18 to late twentysomethings in us who want to get down to EDM and rhythmically pleasing remixes. My backpacking group (and certainly I alone) did not seek out the highest end, fanciest discotheques or go to every single one we laid our eyes on, but travelling across the continent, we went to a fair amount and found our favourites (and our least favourites).

Each country does it a little differently. Overall though, prepare for late nights and dress to stay cool (temperature-wise). All that should be common knowledge, right?

Remember: Always drink responsibly and stay safe!

Paris, France (?)


I did not go out in Paris. I arrived on a Sunday and stayed until Tuesday afternoon - not prime times for partying. Sorry, I have no suggestions from this trip! Though, Adèle told me that the Marais district is the gay borough with a lot of clubs. I didn't frequent them this time around, but apparently, they are popping ... In general though, Paris is not usually associated with budget travel, so expect high prices for drinks and entrance.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands ($$$/ $$$$)


"Go far y'all"
(Selfie credits by Angela F.)
*The prices have been compared to those in Paris

Amsterdam is more known for its drug and sex industries, but that does not mean the clubs aren't wild. Especially since all three of these institutions are bound to mix a little ... Surprisingly, many locals in Amsterdam go out on Thursdays since, if we are to believe two Amsterdam-ian baristas, businesses often give lighter shifts on Fridays, which allows youths the ability to party in the week a little earlier.

Never limit yourself to just going out on the weekends anywhere, but it is good to know that from Thursday on in Amsterdam, you'll find some action at the clubs. Amsterdam is a city to be walked through; most of the clubs are in the same district, Leideplein, so you won't have to go far if you want to hop between a few different venues.

In general, nothing gets kicking in Amsterdam until about 1 AM if not later.

De Club Up (Thursdays - Sundays)


Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 26, Amsterdam, Netherlands - Head towards the Leideplein District (where the clubs are)

Recommended to us by one of the aforementioned baristas, Club Up does not start going until around 1 AM. One of the great charms of this place besides that lockers are front and center up the stairs at the entrance, allowing you to deposit your belongings before you go inside, is that when there are locals, the DJs play actual Dutch music as well as a great mixture of Euro tracks (a lot of House). Music though ultimately depends on the party of the night. It's a small club with a dance floor and a bar (to the right). Its basic setup won't disappoint though.

It is a few Euros for entree, but you can come and go as you please as long as you have the hand stamp.

When the gang went, no one was at the club, so we left for a bit. When we came back, security let us jump the long queue because we were there before. I suggest going early to get the stamp, going to one of the restaurants adjacent to it for bit, then returning when you see it start to fill up.

Berlin, Germany ($$)


A clubbing capital of the world, Berlin is a city always on the brink of turning up. It is not as expensive as Amsterdam that caters to a significant tourist population and Paris that is expensive to begin with, but watch your spending going out. Unlike Amsterdam, clubs are more spread out, not all centrally located. You may have to utilise the metro or a taxi to get to and from the clubs. Don't forget to factor that into the costs of the night out. Personally, I did not enjoy the Berlin scene too much. Everyone is too cool, and no one dances. People just sway back and forth facing the DJ ... I like to actually move my body ... But, you have to try it for yourself.

An important thing to know about Berlin clubbing is that usually you do not need to dress up to go out. For guys, it is not much of a problem, but for the ladies, you should not wear heels and do not have to get as dolled up like, let's just say, in Paris. Clubbing in Berlin doesn't stop either, so dress comfortably for a long night out.

Berliners do not start until the wee hours of the morning. Expect it to start getting good at around 1:30 - 2 AM. Then, don't expect it to stop.

Tresor (Check the programs)


Köpenicker Str. 70, 10179 Berlin, Germany

Multiple stories, slightly labyrinthian, and a techno madhouse, Tresor is the club you imagine when you think of German clubbing. The entree fee is a few euros (approximately 10-12), but you pay for the experience. The bottom level is smoky and dungeon-y, the ground floor is more chill, still with an industrial wasteland motif, and the third floor is open for dancing and contains the biggest bar of the building.

We went to this club after a Chewonki friend suggested it to us who was also in Berlin; as she was leaving her accommodation, she actually woke us up after we all crashed on the lobby's couches of the hostel. She told us that the word is this club is for fun, young persons, not children or prostitutes, and there are other clubs for those types of people. It was definitely worth the taxi ride there, but I was not a fan of the EDM the DJs were playing or the mess of smoke that consumed the dance floor along with the large absence of good moves.

Weekend (All week)


Alexanderstraße 7, 10178 Berlin, Germany

A more reserved lounge scene, Nina and Tess went to this club and came back raving about it. What sets this bar apart? Its roof top view at night is second to none. Come dance a little, eat a little, and see the Berlin skyline all at once. The dress is fancy-casual, and they have BBQ outside if the weather is good. Not a bad combination.

Prague, Czech Republic ($)


Prague's party scene is legendary like most things in the city. Personally, I had the most fun in this town (clubbing and everyday life-wise). Prague is extremely cheap for most visitors, so drinks and entree are not a problem. The only issue is that there are so many tourists if you want to get down with the Czechs, you will have to seek them out and stray from the conventional crowd. If that doesn't matter to you, you'll still have a blast with the Aussies and Brits you pick up along the way. Don't question it; you'll meet them; it will just happen.

Walking in Prague is simple, and the city is not dangerous at night. Just be careful with high heels ladies, there are a lot of cobblestone streets that can get you. I recommend going to Burrito Loco as well after a night out. Seriously, I have advertised this place to everyone, they should pay me. You can get a 1 lb. burrito for 125 crowns 24/7. What could be better? Well, two burritos ...

Praguers go out a little earlier than other Europeans. Think about heading out at around 12 AM, but expect to be out until the sun comes up.

Karlovy Lázne (All week)


Smetanovo nábřeží 198/1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic

Advertised as central Europe's largest dance club, it is a massive tourist mecca with five stories, each specialising in a different style of music. Entrance is a little expensive (for the Czech Republic), and honestly, it was not worth it. I have heard it described as a place that you need to see but may not necessarily enjoy.

There is an ice bar on the lower level, an oldies/ classic story, EDM ... there is something for everyone. Just get ready to dance with some University of Michigan juniors ...

Bottom floor of Karlovy Lázne
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
You will not find a Czech soul in this building unless it is behind the bar. Devote one night to Karlovy Lázne, but I wouldn't go multiple times; it's just not worth it. Drinks are more expensive as well ... and who wants to wait in a massive line outside?

Friends (Other than hosted parties, all week)


Bartolomějská 11, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic

A small gay venue, Nina and I went to see what was up one late night and (accidentally) wandered into Czech karaoke. It was very entertaining since the participants' English was not incredible. Never in my life will I see a better/ more butchered rendition of "American Pie". Drinks are not expensive (at least my ginger ale wasn't), and I do not think you have to pay to get in. The staff made Nina check her coat, but I didn't have to pay a cent. Be sure to keep your coat check ticket though; they will charge you a good amount of crowns if you lose it. The coat check may be the entrance fee ... Don't quote me though. Either way, entree in Prague won't be horrendous.

They offer different nights with themes that range from beach parties to strip shows. It's a mixed crowd of locals, so go, have some fun, and just go with the night. It's a relaxed, intimate atmosphere compared to other places in Prague.

Roxy (All week)


Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic

I went on an impromptu pub/ club crawl with some Brits and eventually found myself at this underground music house. Needless to say, my backpacking group (who did not join up with us) was a little peeved at me for disappearing ... Sorry Nina ...

Regardless, Roxy surprised me. Located on one of the more main streets next to restaurants and hostels, I expected it to honestly, for lack of a better term, suck. Roxy actually had decent music, a large venue that they use for concerts as well the dance floor, and adequate space to cool off with couches. It is roomy, but the extra square meters do not detract from the partying vibe.

There was no charge for entrance, and I recommend going there to mostly dance; save your money on drinks for some other time.

Termix (Wednesdays - Sundays)


Třebízského 1514/4a Praha

Open Wednesdays to Sundays, Termix is a small gay dance club. Entrance is free, and the drinks are reasonably priced. I thoroughly enjoyed this club; I even met a celebrity here. The music is pop house remixes that are easy to get down to; leave it to the gays. It can get a little smoky, and since it's a tiny venue with an even tinier dance floor, you may need a breather after awhile. You can enter and exit the club at will and for free, so you have that going for you at least.

People do not start showing up until around 12 AM, so expect it to really start happening at around 1 - 1:30 AM. Regardless if you are single, in a relationship, (want to cruise a little in the bathroom back room ...), or what have you, this club is a nice atmosphere to meet locals, travellers, and expats from around the world.

Budapest, Hungary ($/$$)


Budapest, "the Pearl of the Danube," is known for its festival scene as well as its ruin bars, multi-floored open air alcohol gardens. Populated by tourists, expatriates, and even the occasional Hungarian, the Jewish Quarter is where most of the party venues are located with many hostels being walking distance or a tram ride away. Clubs do not really get popping until around 1:30 - 2:00 AM, but that just gives you enough time to enjoy and explore the ruin bars beforehand.

Gentlemen, careful with the Hungarian girls who will try to get you to take them to bars to buy them drinks. It is an old sexual scam that will leave you spending a lot of forints/euros or at the mercy of the bar security. Besides that, Budapest is safe at all hours and offers a fair amount of options if you enjoy Middle Eastern foods for a late night snack. A lot of pubs and bars are free entrance with no minimum consumption as well, and with Hungary already being quite cheap for foreigners, I'd be surprised if you have a bad night out in Budapest. Just pace yourself.

Instant (All week)


Budapest, Nagymező u. 38, 1065 Maďarsko

Officially a ruin bar, Instant is more of a clubbing venue with a main bar level as the ground floor. Its main dance floor is right above on the second level. It is the place you will probably wander into at around 2:30 AM or so. It contains a subterranean portion as well. There is no fee to enter, and the drinks are responsibly priced, but it does get busy (not to mention toasty) with so many people. The music is mostly just pop, but as the night progresses, the music becomes more EDM and remixed, becoming more danceable. It is such a large space, the music varies depending on where you are though.

The entire venue has an owl motif, which you'll notice depending on how inebriated you are when you enter. Probably the most popular club in the area, you'll find the location by following the hordes of people also going to it (there are too many pub crawls). Located about a block and a half down from Instant is a wonderful, local fast food eatery where you can get cheap sandwiches and fries for hardly any forints. Personally, that was my favourite part of Instant; it gave me an excuse to go get a sandwich.

Retox (All week)


Budapest, Ó St 41, 1065 Maďarsko
Ruin bar madness
(Photo credits by hostel friend, Eliza)

Also a party hostel, Retox bar is a rowdy little pub with theme nights exclusively made for backpackers. You will not meet Hungarians here other than the disgruntled security guards that will tell you immediately to be quiet when you leave the ruckus inside. Aside from that fact, it is an interesting place to spend an evening whether you are crashing a drunken trivia night or watching/ participating in their noteworthy 'alcoholympics'. Most of the events start early in the evening (around 9:00 PM), which makes Retox a good bar to start the night in.

Drinks are relatively cheap for a tourist bar. Their signature moonshine drink is extremely strong but tasty. An Ohioan I went out with said it was the best drink he has ever had. Of course, this was after two moonshines ...

Szimpla Kert (All week)


Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Maďarsko

The quintessential ruin bar, Szimpla is one of the most popular locations for tourists to first get introduced to Budapest nightlife. The ambience and decor are the combination of exposed brick and the objects you would find in a thrift shop/ garage sale. There was a point in which I was here nightly, which eventually bothered me since who wants to go to the same place every night? Filled with tourists, the drinks are a little pricey for Budapest, but they are worth it. The Mojito is fantastic and minty. There is a small dance annex that dies down around 2:30 AM to the left in the back, and the bar (or bars since there are multiple, each serving different types of drinks) also start to close up around this time.

The area around Szimpla during the day is lovely as well. There are shops and quiet, local eateries. Additionally, the neighbourhood hosts a farmers' market at times. So in theory, you could spend your nights and following mornings here.

Dubrovnik, Croatia ($/$$)


Dubrovnik is probably one of the most expensive cities in Croatia as a result of it being a tourist magnet for cruise ships. With that said, prices in Croatia are not expensive for most British, American, and other European travellers. Croatians, especially Dubrovnik locals, get a discount at the clubs as well as some eateries, which may sting a little if you are like me and are always after the best price. Regardless, Dubrovnik's only two nocturnal venues are relatively cheap. If you want to club harder (and spend more money), head to an island like Hvar or Pag for a bit.

For gays and lesbians, we are out of luck. Dubrovnik is not as homophobic/ conservative as, let's say, Split, but it is still not that accepting to individuals not living the heteronormative standard. Go to Zagreb if you are looking for a little more LGBT acceptance.

Both Dubrovnikian clubs are located in the Old Town and are usually filled with tourists (a lot of Australians). The dancing picks up around 2 o'clock, so expect to stay out late and come home even later. After around 3/ 3:30 AM at one of the clubs, entrance even becomes free!

Skybar (During the High Season, all week)


Marojice Kaboje 1, Dubrovnik, 20000 (Right next to the main bus stop in the Old Town)

Playing a mixture of pop remixes, Latin beats, and occasionally, the Balkan Top 40, Skybar is the smaller of the two clubs in town. The ground floor is a lounge area, and the subterranean level is the intimate dance floor that for some odd reason becomes a "sausage party" (not in the fun way) after about 3 o'clock. Single females, be warned.

Entry is free before 12 o'clock, but after that, tourists pay a hefty 40 Kuna for entrance. Again if you have a Croatian with you, let he/she do the talking; if you can pass for Croatian (curse these extra eyelids) and are with them, you may get the local discount/ even enter for free before 2 o'clock AM. Drinks are expensive, so I would avoid spending anymore money here. But, if you want to splurge and pool your cash, for a few hundred Kuna, you can get a nice table with complementary bottle service.

(Club) Revelin (Almost everyday, but check the events)


Ul. Svetog Dominika 3, 20000

Located on the other side of the Old Town, Revelin doubles (or triples) as a dance theatre/gallery in the day and a EDM & Gentlemen's club at night. Who wouldn't want to dance in an Croatian castle at 4 AM while the strippers that didn't make the cut for downstairs swing around on poles next to the DJ?

Free most nights after 3 o'clock, when the security guards get tired of policing the newcomers and returnees, Revelin is a sight to behold. Slightly classier than Skybar with waiters in suspenders (clothed males/not exotic dancers!), its main dance floor has high ceilings and a "lavish" VIP area compared to Skybar. Prices to enter are higher (100 kn), but if you can breeze by the hefty entrance, feel free to spend a little. Or not. I don't control you. Occupied again by a drunken exodus of tourists, you will not have a bad time at Revelin unless you get overwhelmed easily. You are bound to meet a few characters here.

And, that ends the first Expat-terns' club guide! As always, drink responsibly and make safe, thoughtful decisions! Be cautious and courteous. As a visitor, don't be a drunken idiot. Also, do not steal bottles from the VIP areas and then lie to the police after your actions start a fight with security. Don't ask; this happened to some associates ... Oy vey. Anyway, enjoy youthful and energetic Europe - responsibly! 

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