Nightclubs not only serve as a setting for the best of local fashion and music, but they also offer an unstructured, unfiltered environment that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the place. There is no harm in drinking a cup.
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In fact, from Baku to Berlin to Bangkok, some cities are defined by their world-renowned nightlife subcultures. For techno fans, testing the doors of German club Berghain is a rite of passage. And within the United States, cities like New York, Las Vegas, and Miami immediately conjure up the idea of a wild time.
Equally interesting is to see how clubgoers rumble in more conservative, secluded or unexpected locations. Kiki with drag queens at gay clubs and dancing barefoot on mustique beaches in the Caribbean Sea until sunrise.
For club regulars, this advice is probably easy. For people of color and especially her LGBTQ people, nightlife outside the United States offers a formative experience. Sure, some can be a challenge, while others are more comfortable in your own skin. And for those who don’t go to clubs in their own city, let alone foreign countries, what is travel, if not a time to try things they don’t do at home?
A night out nationally or internationally is a roll of the dice, but you can put a little effort into making sure things go smoothly. Connecting with locals through mutual friends is ideal, but ask around Sometimes seeing is the best advice. A tip from a dating app got me into his seven-storey club in Madrid, and a new friend at billiards got me into a rave in Ho Chi Minh City.
A little research on social media can also help. When I plan my travel calendar, I often create it around an event such as a music festival that has a mix of travelers and locals. Also, don’t hesitate to ask people you know who are based in a particular city.
Of course, safety comes first. It’s always best to be aware of your surroundings. But just like at home, use common sense and you should be fine. Keep money out of sight and drink out of sight, as my mother always warned me.
Next time you go to a big city, spend the night in the city. As much as you can learn about the place from the club’s spontaneous and colorful cast, you can also learn a little bit about who you are by counting yourself as one of them.
Dan Q. Dao is a travel writer based in Houston and New York City.