Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Rules of London

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A coworker of mine just returned from his European post-college backpacking vacation. I couldn't wait to see him again, since I'm a huge fan of European travel and since I'm too broke to experience it again anytime soon, I live vicariously.

"The club scene in London is impossible," he told me, although I already knew. I've never known anyone "inside" enough to explain the rules to me in-depth, but I've been lucky enough to blend in and tag along and have a jolly good time. My impression, based on limited experience, is that pubs close to the public early, and then "members only" clubs pop up for the after-11 late-nighters. Thing is, you have to come to the club with a London native, or be incredibly attractive, to be admitted. I'd say my coworker is more than reasonably attractive, and it still took his crowd four attempts before finally earning entrance into the London nightclub underworld.

"I made myself look incredibly pathetic, which wasn't difficult," he told me, recounting their final, succesful try. "I essentially begged, and the weary doorman just passed us on through. We set our money down and received drinks, and at that moment, the lights went up and the club closed."

"I hope you chugged," I said.

"We did. We felt like douchebags."

I like London a lot, but I feel more like an unwelcome visitor there than in any place in Europe, and it bums me out, honestly. Anyone hold the key to getting a cocktail after 10:00 there? Am I just too prole, or something? Is there a password, a secret handshake?

Most of my London memories are good ones, but I'd love to learn how to navigate the city after-hours. And of course, there's this song, which will forever remind me of London... in the best possible, most wonderful way.

Long shot of that jumping sign
Visible shivers running down my spine
Cut to baby taking off her clothes
Close-up of the sign that says, "We never close"
You snatch a tune, you match a cigarette
She pulls the eyes out with a face like a magnet
I don't know how much more of this I can take
She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake

- Elvis Costello, "Watching The Detectives"

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