Naturally, all it took for me to abandon the many reasons for missing a Tuesday night out at Espresso was the right text from the right person: “You out tonight?” Shoes are dug out from under the bed, jeans are found, you even pull out that Nicce London t-shirt you were saving for a special occasion. Quick shower in aftershave to hide the fact that you lacked sufficient time for a the more conventional water based version and you’re all set, knowing full well you will return to the cold shoulders of those to whom you normally say “I’ve got an 8am tomorrow, I can’t go out”. Everyone loves spontaneity.
Pre-drinks was the most international event I’ve ever been to. In fact, it was everything I hope a UN Conference afterparty to be. Ireland, of course the drunkest nation there, and the life of the party, banging on the tables and singing some song about a boat that no one else knows in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the British representatives, who, in true fashion stand, somewhat uncomfortable and quite unsure of their surroundings, slightly to the side, but trying to join in, before giving up and closing in their group to create a private, non-mainland Europe conversation.
The Italians sit, wine in hand, clutching their corkscrews in case anyone dares suggest getting a pizza in (it’s not pizza if it hasn’t been made in Italy), and disdaining anyone blasphemous enough to turn up with a screw top bottle. Greece, absolutely no idea what’s going on, but just over the moon at being invited, makes itself known with its heart-warming friendliness. France, who hasn’t even joined in on the party, but is just wondering why it’s taking place in their county, remains aloof and employs that magical French ability which allows them to ignore everyone in the room, without batting an eye, and carry on making dinner. The Americans, slightly apart from the Europeans, keep a watchful eye over the proceedings and intermittently sip from multipack bottled beer, unwilling to jump into the unknown and dangerous waters of the pint. Who knows the chaos that could ensue from an America not thinking straight. And then, as if by clockwork, the Germans turn up, organise everyone and get us leaving. Just as well, we’d all forgotten what we were doing anyway.
Although only a short walk to Espresso, we received many a warning from departing punters: “don’t go, it’s dead”. You see, the once thriving, weekly Erasmus party has been rocked by internal political intrigue to rival the Red Wedding, casting Espresso Jalal out into the cold and turning him to the dark side, leading to the rise of Duplex Bar. However, loyal, we persevered, and after making firm friends with Belgians at the bar I was feeling more than a bit integrated. At 2am I left with two Spaniards, a nation ill at ease with drinking ending before dawn, heading for town, and dreading tomorrow’s four-hour lecture.