First Taste of Parisian Nightlife

So, after a few weeks of staying in every night, I have finally had my first experiences with the Parisian club scene, and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.

Having just barely turned 21 this passed December, I really don’t have much experience going to bars and clubs, and I don’t think the nightlife is particularly spectacular in Albuquerque anyway, so I was very excited to get my first chance to go out to a bar and then a nightclub with some of my new Erasmus friends.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Erasmus is basically just the French term for exchange students, and my school has a club of French students, Dauphine Erasmus Exchange (DEE) who organize fun events for their many foreign students. The main thing they do for the students is organize a night out at a different bar each Thursday night, with reduced prices for drinks, music, and socializing. I didn’t go the first week that they had it, because I had a terrible day that day and didn’t feel like going out, but I didn’t want to miss it this time, so on Thursday, January 22nd, I had my first night out in Paris, and met up with a few of my friends at this week’s bar, The Long Hop.

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It is a sports bar in the 5th arrondisement, near the center of Paris, and when we got there, there were many people standing outside smoking, like they do everywhere here, and when we went inside, my glasses immediately fogged up. The bar was full to the brim with people and it felt like a great party. It was actually a pretty large bar, much bigger than I expected in Paris, and it had a second floor. It was dark and the strobe lights were flashing, and the music was so loud, you couldn’t really hear the person next to you. And it was hot! It seemed like all 200 something international students were there, and then some, and it was packed. The music was pretty good, everyone was feeling good, and I kept running into people I had met somewhere or another in school. I liked the atmosphere because it was all Dauphine students (more or less) and the vibe was good. Everyone was really friendly and it’s all about meeting people. The bad part was that it was almost too full to move and you couldn’t really hear anyone, and many people were trying to talk to me. I also didn’t like how hot it was, and having to carry around my heavy winter coat. It makes it hard to dance or let loose.

I met up with some of my American friends, who told me they were leaving early to go to the club that many people go to after the bar. I thought that sounded much better than the hot, crowded bar, but it was hard to try to coordinate with my other friends when to leave. Long story short, my American friends left, and I stayed with my new friend Giselle, the Brazilian, and some of her friends. I met a few of her friends, two who are finished with their time at Dauphine, and are getting ready to go back to Brazil. We hung out in a corner of the bar and talked for a while, and I have to admit I was bored. I wanted to dance, but not with my big coat and sweater in my hand, and not in that crowd. I was ready to leave for the club, but I endured the boredom since Giselle’s friends were trying to enjoy their last two weeks in Paris with their friends.

Finally, we left the bar and made our way to the metro to go to the club.

It was me, Giselle, two of her Brazilian friends, Rodrigo and Victoria, and a their French friend, Redha, who I guess is a world champion in some kind of gymnastics competition, which is pretty cool! We went to a nightclub called Mix Club, which is in Montparnasse, right on the boarder between the 14th and 15th arrondissements, and it is located right next to “La Tour (Tower) Montparnasse”, which is the tallest building in Paris at 60 stories, and the Parisians absolutely detest it. In fact, after it was built, they passed a law saying no new buildings could no longer be above seven stories, so there wouldn’t be any more random skyscrapers in the middle of all the traditional architecture.

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Anyway, Mix Club has a special every Thursday night called Erasmus night, and students get in free before midnight, unless you are like us, who got there after midnight and wanted access to both the dance floor and the VIP section with bottle service. When you walk into the club you are on the top floor, and you pay for your admission, then you walk down the stairs to a coat check area, and once you’ve checked your stuff in for a small fee, you can take even more stairs down to the dance floor, or you can take the slide. Yes, a slide that will take you to the dance floor. I didn’t try the slide because we paid to have a table in the upstairs section, but maybe someday I’ll try it.

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(The slide is the thing in the back with the lights going down it)

We paid I think €140 total for the five of us to have a table in the VIP section and one bottle of vodka, and they brought cups and small pitchers of apple and orange juice to mix with it. We had a nice toast and started dancing and enjoying the music. The music was VERY mainstream top 40 pop songs remixed into dance music, and I liked a lot of it, but some of it was just not my taste, but all these foreign kids were eating it up! Almost all of the music was American or anglophone, and it was seriously all the mainstream music I get sick of on the radio back home, but hey, the beats they put on them and the loud bass in the club made even annoying songs easy to dance to. Almost everyone there was students and the majority foreign students, and I looked around in awe of the absolute slop-fest that was going on around this club. Pretty much everyone was hammered drunk and people were dancing and sucking face in the raunchiest way possible; it was absolutely gross. It was funny, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t judge, but some of it made me so uncomfortable and grossed out, and honestly I was worried about some people.

Oh, and then there was this girl walking around with this same expression on her face the whole time, being really weird. She was completely out of it and at one point she tried to take my glasses..

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I had a really good time dancing with my new friends and doing a little drinking, which I’m not super into, but I was feeling pretty good, and we all danced at our table and on the dance floor and it was a fun time.

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Here is me and Giselle!

They also have a guy who comes around and takes your picture and posts it on their Facebook :)

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[Rodrigo (Brazilian), Giselle (Brazilian), Victoria (Brazilian), Me in all my pale, bald ponytail looking glory, and Redha (French)]

Around 4am I started feeling tired and I was ready to go home, but my friends still wanted to stay so I headed out by myself. The metros stop running somewhere between 1 and 2 am, until 5:30, but Paris has a nighttime bus called Noctilien that runs all night, and luckily for me, one of the major stations is right outside the club. Unfortunately for me though, I was an idiot and didn’t pay attention to which direction the bus was going in, so I got on the right bus line, going in the wrong direction! I ended up at the last stop somewhere on the complete opposite side of Paris than where I needed to be, and had to get off the bus and wait for the next one going the other way. I waited about 20 minutes and then it took at least another hour to get home. By the time I was nearly home, I had to pee so bad that I was in pain, and I was worried about getting off on the wrong stop, and accidentally got off one stop too early. I could have walked home, but I didn’t think I could hold it long enough, and by this time the metros were already back on! So, I hopped on the metro for one stop and barely made it up to my apartment in time before I totally peed my pants! I know that’s TMI, but I thought it was funny.

 

So, after my first night out on the town, I have to say it was a success. I definitely enjoyed the club much more than the bar, but The Long Hop would be a great bar to hang out at on a normal night when it isn’t so crowded. The atmosphere of Mix itself (lights, music, space, cleanliness, etc.) was really great, but it really is full of super blasted people embarrassing themselves, haha!

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(Me embarrassing myself in right hand corner putting my guns up for some reason?)

I’ll write about my second night out the next Thursday since it was basically the same experience. I met up with Giselle and her friends at the bar, and this time the bar was called Panic Room and was much smaller and more cramped than the last one. I didn’t like it at all and it smelled so bad! I think I saw some French kids behind me huffing on something and it smelled like some kind of disgusting chemical in there. Luckily we didn’t stay long and once again went to mix.

This time there were eight of us, and we each had to pay about €35 in order to get a table, and this time we got two bottles since there were more of us; a bottle of the same kind of vodka as last time, and a bottle of whiskey, which I didn’t try. Very pricey for two regular sized bottles and a sticky table and couch, but for a going away party for Rodrigo, Victoria and Eduardo, I guess it’s worth it! I probably won’t pay for VIP much in the future, though, just for special occasions.

I have to say I was disappointed because the music was exactly the same as the week before, like seriously exactly the same playlist. I expected some variation, so I didn’t like that, but I still danced my little booty off and had a good time.

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So here we have Tim (English), Eduardo (Brazilian), Victoria (Brazilian), Luana (Brazilian/Rodrigo’s girlfriend), Me, Giselle, and then Fazz (English) and Rodrigo (Brazilian) in the front.

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Once again, this club was a slop-town for all these Erasmus kids, and I was again creeped out by how many guys stare at you with these sketchy looks on their faces and invite themselves to start dancing with you and trying to grab you. I know it’s just the way things are, but it just gets old after a while when you are just trying to dance and enjoy the music. I have to say that even though Mix Club is fun, fairly upscale, and has decent music, I wouldn’t want to go there by myself or with just girl friends, because it’s very handy to have a guy friend around to save you from awkward situations with guys imposing themselves on you. The first night out the French gymnastics guy, Redha was my protector, and the second time it was Fazz from England, who came to my rescue and pulled me away acting like I was already dancing with him when someone wouldn’t leave me alone. I guess you just have to learn not to feel bad to totally reject someone, but like I said sometimes they won’t leave you alone. Another thing I realized is that you really have to be careful about not getting too drunk in places like that, because I’m not kidding, I seriously felt like if you are out of control drunk you are almost guaranteed to get sexually assaulted in there! It’s seriously gross. So both times I’ve been careful about how much I drink. I don’t want to give the impression that every guy in there is like a creepy predator, because it’s not true, I’m just saying there are a lot of highly intoxicated people who just make things weird.

So this time, we all decided to just stay in the club until it was time for the metros to open up again at 5:30 since it’s faster than the bus and cheaper than a cab. I had a nice conversation with Eduardo, (from the photo), who is also getting ready to go back to Brazil after his semester at Dauphine. He really loved it in Paris and was having fun drunkenly telling me stories about his adventures in Europe. He told me he visited 24 countries while he was here, and he is so sad to be leaving. He also said that Erasmus night at Mix club is one of the funnest parties I will find here in Paris and that he has been here so much and has had so much fun at these parties. Finally the time came to head to the large Montparnasse-Bienvenue metro station, and we all got on the metro and went our separate ways, and I once again got home around 6am and collapsed into bed!

All in all though, I’ve been impressed with my experiences with the Parisian nightlife, and still have many more clubs I want to try, and hope the bar experiences get a little better. I’ve really enjoyed being able to get out of the house and dance, and Paris is feels extremely safe at night. I probably won’t be going every Thursday, but I think Mix puts on a good party for us Erasmus kids!

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à bientôt,

Michelle :)

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