In your time in Madrid, it is very likely you will go out at night A LOT. In downtown Madrid, you will easily find a place to party anytime, and any day of the week, including Sundays and Mondays till dawn. Yeah, you read that right.
There are many discos and lounges that organise events for Erasmus and international students. These parties are very popular, and it is a great way to meet people from literally everywhere! You’ll find out soon enough that Thursdays are a very popular day for university-student events and parties. Discount entrances to clubs, lower prices inside, special offers… it gets crazy.
It’s probable that many Friday nights you’ll end up at Joy, right next to Puerta del Sol thus extremely central. It’s also very populated with international students, which frequently host Erasmus parties.
But surely, on your first Saturday night in Madrid, you and your new friends will probably be anxious to party all night at Kapital, the famous seven-story club. You’ll dress-up, put on your most expensive clothes and your best smile, you’ll happily wait in line for as long as it’s necessary… because once you’re inside, you know that for a long time you’ll be telling the story of the first time you went to Kapital.
My personal recommendation is that you also take a little time to party like a local. It’s definitely cheaper, you can dress comfortably, you get food too… And, you actually get to talk to people.
So how do Spaniards party?
It’s very common that groups of friends will get together to “picar algo de comer” (grab something to eat) and then play it by ear. Unless it’s been specifically said that you’re going to dinner at X place, when your Spanish friends invite you out, you know you’re going out for sure, but the plan itself is never set in stone.
You’ll probably end up bar-hopping, (which is nothing like pub crawling!). You might visit several bars, where you’ll receive a tapa – a small portion of food – for every beverage you get. Although you might think wine, and especially red wine, is very popular in Spain, most Spanish young people will ask for a caña (small beer). Once you finish your caña and tapa, and have had a nice chat with your friends, you might go on to the next bar.
The “chatting” part is very important. Because in Spain, people usually gather around food. And although there is often alcohol involved, it’s not a means to get drunk, but to socialise.
And so, after you’ve visited a few bars, had a couple of beers, tried several tapas, had time to catch up with your friends (who, by the way, probably speak very loud!) and you’ve had some good laughs… they’ll suggest you get a “copa” (drink).
Seldom will they take you to a club like the ones previously described (Kapital, Joy…). You’ll go to another bar nearby where you can sit and talk, or if you’re in the mood for more, you’ll go to a pub where you can dance!
Granted, the regular Spaniard will need that first drink before getting out on the dance floor. But once it’s on, you never know when you’ll be going home! If you’re all having a great time, you might stay there for a long time: till 3 am, or maybe 6am because you might as well wait for the subway to open again.
The local thing is: whatever happens, it’s never planned. By the time you arrive home, you will have eaten, been to several places, maybe danced, talked a lot and to many different people, and, perhaps even had breakfast on the way back.
Sounds good? Well, doing the local thing is part of the experience. To help you with that, coming soon: a list of great places for cañas and tapas, pubs that play Spanish music, and other tips to make your time in Madrid as good and as authentic as it gets!
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