Thursday, January 28, 2010

Out on the town, Florentine style

The first thing you need to know about going out to Florentine clubs and bars is that THEY STINK. I love the Italians. They're fun and easy-going (most of the time). Some are funny, some are sweet, some are charming, some are friendly, and mostly all of them are absolutely beautiful. Seriously, I've seen more handsome men concentrated in this city than I have ever seen in my life. They dress commendably, so much so that on more thn one occasion I've found myself gawking, definitely open-mouthed, at someone walking by. All the women in this town dress elegantly without being ostentatious and I'm never subjected to the displeasure of walking behind a group of young guys all wearing their pants below their asses with bright yellow spongebob boxers on. But they seriously, seriously reek. We Americans are used to a certain standard of hygiene, and these Florentines just don't own up. The guys back home, generally speaking, take pride in the cologne they wear. They like to smell good. I mean, honestly, we've got more versions of Axe than Italians have versions of wine. Somewhere along the course of the cultural development of the Italians someone forgot to mention that society had developed an adversity toward smelly people. After a few nights out in clubs where the collective body-odor was so bad it wafted out the door, I've been earnestly considering bringing along some perfume to spray up my own nostrils.

Odor aside, the nightlife here is pretty wild. Not wild in the sense that everyone is wasted and guys are slipping roofies into drinks, nor is it wild in the out-of-control drug scene, raver type of nightlife. The discos are just PACKED, and no two bar or disco has the same vibe to it. At least not so far. I've got a lot more bars and clubs to hit up before I leave; Firenze is a little city but they've got lots and lots of different clubs and scenes to get involved in. The best part of these nights out is that they last quite a while. Bars don't stop serving alcohol until around 4 or 5 a.m. at many places and I've had some really lengthy nights. People don't even start going out until around 11 or 12 at night, unlike America where nights out start as early as 9 p.m. The second best part is that a single drink, albiet expensive, is enough to last you the whole night. I've mentioned in my last post that bartenders pour their drinks charitably. I've been told by my school advisors at our orientations that they do this in the interest of getting more people drunk, faster. They think that by getting us as drunk as possible, we'll buy more drinks. PSHAW! What are they, idiots? The more drunk you get me, the less likely I am to buy another drink. Bartenders back home have the right idea. Water your drinks down so Americans will buy more; mostly all of us are out to get wasted and get there fast, so we buy drink after drink at home because they are so weak. The minute you get me to the point where I'm buzzed and feeling good, Italian bartenders, I'm not going to buy another drink until that feeling starts to fade. They charge alot for their drinks, 7 euro, but a little pre-gaming and one good drink makes for a full night out in this town!

Speaking of pre-gaming, I'd like to tell you readers something I love about the right way to do that here. Pretty much everyone with half a brain knows that the best place to go for wine in the world is Tuscany. Lucky me, Firenze is smack dab in the middle of Tuscany. The young Italians and the Americans here do not ever ever take this for granted. We pre-game with wine. In glasses, mugs, bowls, whatever we can find. The very best way to pre-game here is with a couple 20 euro bottles of wine. You might not guess it at first, but wine gets you feeling pretty good and keeps you feeling pretty good for a pretty long time. It is also DELICIOUS! Even the 20 euro bottles that the young kids drink here are better than any wine you can find from home. You see most people in the clubs holding glasses of wine and not mixed drinks or beers. I can see myself joining in on that phenomenon. Who'd have thought I'd ever become such a wine enthusiast in only a few days?

Once you're locked and loaded and geared up to hit the town, consider what you're wearing very carefully. If you're a girl, you probably shouldn't be wearing heels. Most girls do, but I've more than once seen idiot Americans, drunk as can be, stumbling along on these cobblestone via's barely able to keep themselves from falling. Don't bring your purses, you'll probably get pick pocketed, and try not to bring a coat. It is difficult in this cold weather, but just ask my roommate, coat-check REALLY sucks. Italians do not know how to stand in orderly lines. It is something they were never taught to do. The pandemonium one encounters at the coat check is so maniacal its best not to even bother. My poor roommate was so angry by the end of her coat-check experience she was ready to bust heads.

The clubs are all unique. I started off my club sampling a few nights ago at Club 21, which even at 11 (the time it friggin' opened) was totally dead. About 6 American guys and the DJ were there and it didn't pick up for a while, so my friends and I left and went instead to a lounge called Moya. This place was totally rad. It had a really smooth vibe going and was very natural and trendy. The bartender made me an LI. I'm discovering that every country has a new damn way to say LIT. In Little Cayman, the bartender (whose LIT was my favorite so far) called an LIT an LIT. In Canada, the bartender called an LIT an LIIT. Long Island Iced Tea. It seriously took the bloke a full-blown explaination to understand that LIT meant LIIT. Some people are just so dense. And here in Italia they call and LIT and LI. They don't add the Iced Tea part to Long Island and the bartender, whose English was very patchy and could barely understand my patchy Italian, figured it out after a few seconds (stupid Canadians) and poured me the most ridiculously strong alcoholic beverage I've ever had. Somehow I managed to pawn some of it off on my friends and finish the rest without being drunk at all. Had I drank the whole thing and not spaced out my sips, I'd have been totally smashed. Strong drink pouring was a general theme, I discovered, when the next night I ordered an Amaretto Sour from the bartender at Rex and discovered that the damn thing, however delicious, would get me drunk so quick I'd forget my own name if I didn't pace myself. Rex was really awesome. Funky, fresh, and definitely a local favorite, Rex was the most interesting place I've been to so far. I'm interested to see how often I'll wind up there. They do live music some nights and have this really weird and earthy atmosphere in their bar. The only thing that really pissed me off was that they had a cross, with the sign and everything, lying on the floor as decoration. I'm not deeply religious, but in one of the most religious cities in the world you'd figure they'd have a little more respect for the son of God. My friends and I all wanted to go dancing after Rex and so we walked half a minute down the street to club twice. We'd stopped in before when it was dead but found ourselves back there because the place was BUMPING. It was black and white night and they played all hip-hop until around 1:30 a.m. It was pretty awesome. The place was totally packed (smelled like garbage) and people were enjoying themselves all over. They had a really big dance floor and a lounge to hang out in for smokers and whatever. The black and white thing pretty much failed but everyone was, for the most part, dressed with a semblance of class and the Italian dancing was pretty good. The only person fist-pumping was me, and only to rep the NJ shore a bit. The guys I'd gone out with were raggin' on me at the beginning of the night about being from the shore, so I had to show off my natural born fist-pump. After the hip-hop stopped, they started playing music like Rhianna and Lady Gaga and the place started to get messy. People were packed into the club like sardines and the ensuing melee was way too much for all of us to handle and so we left.

Anyway, this has been my synopsis of the Italian nightlife as I've seen it so far. I'm sure over the course of the next four months I'm in this city this synopsis will change, and I'm sure I'll have plenty more clubs and bars to write about. I hope you've enjoyed it, reader, ma sono stancato dopo queste notti matte. Arrivederci, for now!

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