Dancing into Spain’s Late Night Culture

posted in: Destinations, Spain | 0
Swinging around at a bar in Ibiza.

“Spain can be a bit crazy. You think you’re going out for just a few beers, and all of a sudden it’s morning outside.” | A friend I made in Ibiza


Spain has a late night culture. In the same way that Vegas is a city that never sleeps, Spain is a country that never sleeps, except in the afternoon for long naps called siestas. I knew all of this while going to Spain, but in the same way that you hear things about every country and still don’t expect it. You don’t necessarily believe the rumors until you are in the club at 4 in the morning with zero inclination of what time it is.

More than anywhere else in West Europe, Spain is the place where the party animal thrives. No one cares if you sleep in until 2 a.m. here. Sleep all day if you want. The night is what truly matters to these people. Dancing and singing and celebrating and being loud and loving life is a zealous nighttime affair.

Clubs technically open at 9 or 10 p.m., but you’re not actually supposed to show up until 2 a.m. Clubs stay open until 6 a.m. and that’s when you head home. A typical night out in Spain’s bigger cities goes like this: have dinner at 10 p.m., stay at dinner until midnight, go to a bar and drink until 2 a.m., then head to the club for the dancing until 6 a.m. Watch the sunrise over some gorgeous hill, maybe grab a bite to eat from a bakery, and be in bed before 8 a.m.


Here’s a rundown of what Madrid looked like for me:

1: Morning

Wake up at 2 p.m., fresh from sleeping 6 hours. Make an Iberian ham sandwich with meat you bought at the local deli. Go to a park called El Retiro. Watch the birds and the couples kissing in canoes and the friends skating by on roller blades and the men selling cans of beer for 1 euro. “Cerveza? Cerveza?”

2: “Afternoon”

Head back to the hostel around 5 p.m., passing dressed up characters taking pictures for money. A man totally spray painted gold looks still as a statue with his janitor broom. When a little girl puts a coin in his can, he breaks the stillness and makes a face at her. She screams in delight. Skype a friend from back home and gush about Spain: the cheap wine, the constant dancing, and the general amiability. Laze about on a hot pink beanbag chair in the hostel common room and take a nap. Wake up from the nap. Make plans for dinner. Take a shower. Get ready for dinner. It’s almost 9.

3: Dinner

Go to dinner at 10 p.m. Stay at dinner until midnight eating loaves of bread with olive oil and sizzling plates of steak and sausage. Have a glass of wine. Pig out on steak fries. Have another glass of wine. Hug the person next to you. Have a glass of wine.

Go to the bathroom. Take selfies in the bathroom with new bathroom friends. Discuss with dinner mates whether or not you should partake in hostel pub crawl. Mention that you are pretty tired and should get some rest, only to be told that you are on vacation and you don’t need to actually do anything tomorrow to get rest for.

Decide to join the hostel pub crawl that is leaving in 10 minutes. Head back to the hostel just before midnight. Pay 15 euros and join the pub crawl, neon yellow paper bracelet slapped on your wrist.

4: After Dinner Bars

Head to three bars in two hours. Pose for dozens of group photos snapped at each location for posterity. Drink nasty tequila shots with lemon wedges because the bar ran out of limes. Make friends with Germans, Austrians, Kiwis, a guy from Argentina, and a pair of loud Australians. Take another tequila shot. Bars love to give tequila to tourists.

5: Wee Hours of the Night

Find out it is 2 a.m., and head to the club. It’s freezing outside and the line for coat check goes all the way down the stairs. You want to save 3 euros so you tie your jacket around your waist like a first grader on a field trip.

Dance to Jason Derulo singing “Talk Dirty.” It plays several times. The Spanish version of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” goes on. Everyone goes wild. Spanish clubs love that song. Salsa music is up next, and by god the Spanish are so good at dancing. These girls are wearing 6 inch stilettos and doing the one two three four step so smoothly that the floor must be waxed. The men’s curly hair is wet with sweat but they still smell godly.

Up on the rooftop deck, cigarettes are passed out by a generous man in a sports coat. “Para ti, mi amor,” he says to everyone. Sink into a plush red velvet couch, cigarette in hand and feeling like Audrey Hepburn. Take a look at your phone for the first time since dinner. It is 5:30 a.m. Woah nelly. Back home people are waking up for work, and you’re here at this magnificent club with six floors, salud!


Leave a Reply