In my opinion, the two things Spain is most known for aren´t bullfighting and high unemployment. Spanish culture is consumed by two ideas: siesta and fiesta. While I maintain that ¨naps are for suckers¨ the rest of the country literally shuts down between 2 and 5, and businesses re-open for an evening session til about 9 each night. (As I write this I am on my two-hour lunch break at the elementary school I work at. Yes, 3-year-olds have school until 4). While I am hesitant to adopt the Spanish art of the siesta, the ¨fiesta¨mantra is easier to become addicted to. If you haven´t been to Spain, the nightlife culture might seem a little bit much – like three-nights-in-Vegas sort of ambitious.
On a typical big night out, Spaniards will eat dinner around 9 or 10, and begin getting ready after that. They will hit up a couple of bars, or as Madrileños often do, botellón in a street or someone´s apartment (a botellón occurs when a group of people converge with their own alcohol – like a 40 of beer, fanta and some sort of hard alcohol, or tinto de verano – and drink til they´re ready to move onto the next location). This is the equivalent of what American college students know as a ¨pre-game¨ or ¨pre-party.¨ The only real difference is that a Spanish botellón ends around the same time American bars would announce last call. I kid you not.
Around 2 am, people will BEGIN to make their way to their club (known as a discoteca here) of choice. If you show up at 2, places will just begin to have people in them. 4 am is when things get busy. My favorite club in Madrid, Kapital, has 7-stories with different themes: a salsa floor, a hip hop floor, several lounges, and of course, the epic first floor which features strictly house music, acrobat and live drumming performances, and a machine that blows cold air over the crowd every few minutes.
For Spaniards, the night ends when the sun is rising…people exit the club after 6, grab a breakfast of churros con chocolate, and THEN head home. While I usually peter out around 5 and eat 5 or so euros to take a cab home before the metro re-opens, the damage done to my internal clock is worth it. House music is definitely not everyone´s cup of tea, but after my semester in Barcelona it is definitely my genre of choice (insert derisive comment about how terrible country music is, here). Still think ¨house¨ is just the name of that place where your bed is? Check out one of my favorite house blogs here.