A night out
Different people have different ideas about what constitutes a nice evening out with friends. Some of the ideas are, at least partly, culturally defined. Spaniards will not start their parties before the time pubs in England have already closed. While Italians will try hard to impress members of the opposite sex, Slovenians try to sheer away from interacting with anybody that is not already part of their group of friends. But what about a Czech night out?
It leads no surprise that in a beer country like the Czech Republic, it`s not only men who drink beer. Most of the girls do exactly the same, although some of them prefer wine. The starting time of a night out convention may surprise some Southern Europeans or pretty much anybody non-Czech: between 7 and 8 PM, right after dinner. Most evenings end by 2 or 3 AM, although the good parties sometimes last until the next morning, possibly at one of the `non-stop bars` which are open 24/7.
`99% of the young people I know smoke marihuana`
Off to the pub
Most people use the local pub as a place to meet up, with an option to move on to a club later at night. Out of all people I speak to today, only Petr (29) refuses to show himself in pubs. He is also the only one to tell that he doesn`t enjoy drinking beer: `I like to drink Diet Coke and I prefer to do so at home rather than in a pub. I may drink a glass of white wine on the few occasions that I go to the discotheque. I spend most of my spare time playing ice hockey on the Xbox 360 or taking my wife to the cinema. The rest of my time is dedicated to sports. I play floor ball in the highest Czech league, and most of the time play against my friends on the Xbox 360, if have spare time at all. I play in the highest Czech floor ball league and need to train for that quite a lot. Tennis and football consume any time that is left over`, Petr says.
Like the Slovenians, Czechs like to go out in groups, consisting of up to 10 to 15 friends. Martin (23) usually moves in a group of 3 to 5 friends from secondary school. `We go out to one of our two favourite pubs in town, oftentimes on Friday. We don`t really need to call each other. I just go there and expect some others to be there. If not, I will order a beer for myself, and possibly another one. If they end up not showing up, I will call them or start chatting with somebody else in the pub. I know all of the people there anyway.`
`It`s nice to be surrounded by people you know, but the bad thing is that it`s hard to meet new people and to make new friends. Talking with the same people about the same stuff can get boring every once in a while. The best way to do that is by going to a club, but we only do that once every two months, and only if we have decided in advance that it should be included in the plan. For guys who are interested in a girl, it`s common to buy her a drink. The rest of the conversation may guide towards getting her phone number and/or meeting up in the same place some other time in the future. Girls walking up to guys and inviting them for a drink is not very common. It`s up to the men to take the first step, but it takes quite some courage and I don`t always have enough of that`, Martin says.
Organising the evening
Lucia (23) does not really like to go to clubs. `I prefer rock music, which is played in pubs rather than discos. I like dancing, but don`t do it too often. The best thing about going out in Czech Republic is the beer, which I am really fond of.`
Although beer is consumed collectively, buying rounds does not seem to be a common practice. `Everybody in my group buys his or her own beer`, says Tereze (21). `Some drink more than others, so it`s more practical this way. One of my friends drinks to get drunk, while most others drink to socialise. For the others, getting drunk is not what you would call an exception either, though.`
Smoking and drinking
Smoking bans are still far from being introduced in the Czech Republic. Tereze can`t wait to see smoking prohibited from pubs. `None of my friends smoke, and we prefer to go to non-smoking pubs. I don`t like it too much when people sitting next to me smoke, even though it`s obviously their decision to smoke and not mine.`
Milos (24, photo), who is studying civil engineering and working as a site surveyor, tells me about the way Czech youngsters conveniently use drugs when they go out. `Getting drunk is a quite common way to end the evening, which is why I personally prefer to walk home after a night out. About 20% of young Czechs don`t mind taking the car when they have downed a few pints, especially the ones from Moravia. Death tolls on roads are much higher during weekends, which is when most people go out and have a drink.`
`Smoking marihuana is also quite popular. I guess 99% of the young people I know do it. The pub is not a suitable place for that. You`d have to walk outside, or light one at home or during summer festivals. Some disco-fans will also take Pernik or Piko, nicknamed `gingerbread` which is a Czech type of amphetamine. It allows you to dance for three days and nights in a row. And will get you sleeping for two days and nights after that. Piko is said to contain local herbal ingredients, apparently making it `healthier` in a way than cocaine or heroine.`
Boris (24) is also familiar with people smoking marihuana. `It`s easy and undangerous to obtain. I prefer Cuban cigars however. I enjoy the taste and it combines well with the conversations I have with my friends. We usually go out as a men-only group, while the girlfriends of my friends go out somewhere else together. We talk about our hobbies, about cars and about girls ? even though nobody in our group except myself is still single. Approaching the girls is another kind of sport. I wouldn`t dare to do it without first making eye contact. Joining other groups is not the easiest thing in the world either. Group of friends stick together and it`s not always easy to make new friends. I think I meet new friends once every half year, and that`s about it. Fortunately, it`s quite easy to know when Czechs open up to strangers. Everything becomes easier after a pint or three.`
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