Luke Conor Baker takes us through the ups and downs of student night life in Milan.
Having been a club-keen student at UCL, the prospect of a year abroad in Milan, away from home comforts like Loop and Club de Fromage, was a daunting one. Did Italians drink as much as Brits do? Were there night buses in Milan? Were pre-drinks an established thing?
Despite all these initial worries, my clubbing experiences in the city have been largely positive.
Food permeates through all aspects of Italian life, and their nights out are no exception. A typical student night out in Milan will likely start with aperitivo in a bar; an ingenious idea which the UK has yet to grasp. Put simply, you pay a set entry price (in expensive Milan €5-€10) and this buys you a very strong alcoholic drink and access to a buffet. The Italians do buffets well, and a hearty portion of pizza, prosciutto and panettone works wonders for lining your stomach before the heavy night ahead.
Between aperitivo and the club, your night tends to go one of three ways. You can find a few bars and merry yourself on Aperol Spritz (a Milanese special), you can pick up a crisp white at just €4 a bottle and find a nice piazza for botellón (read: classy street drinking) or you can head back to somebody’s apartment and drink there. Being on a budget, but not a fan of the street sellers that pester you in the piazzas, the final option is usually my choice.
Before you know, it’s midnight (the Italians are late to everything, clubs included) and you’re hazy-eyed, vino-breathed and ready to hit the discoteca.
Where you go is again down to personal choice. Milan, being the largest and most-westernised city in the north of the country, has a nightlife ranging from intimate bar-clubs like Hollywood to large Berlin-style raves like Alcatraz. Yet in my experience, there are a number of consistencies across all student club nights in Milan.
It is an absolute given that drinks will be sordidly cheap. At the equivalent of around £7, €10 can usually buy you entry and two drinks. The Italians, much like their Spanish brethren across the Mediterranean, are known for their generous measures and generally these potent brews will see you through an evening. If through some small miracle you do need something more, decent beer is available at ~€3 a bottle.
The above is most likely responsible for the next point. It is guaranteed that the Italians will be extremely drunk. When you take a nation of people already known for their passion and add a lot of cheap booze and Avicii, it results in carnage. Although generally the ruckus is innocent, the loud, boisterous demeanour of a drunk Italian can be intimidating to the reserved Brit.
To this end, groups of girls in particular should be aware that although well-intentioned, drunk Italians can get a bit physical when drunkenly lovestruck by a British belle. If you’re not looking for an Italian stallion to pass una bella notte with, be firm and they will usually back off. Just be sure to keep your wits about you and stay close to friends.
It would be impossible to write an article on Italian clubs without discussing the largest way in which they differ from ours; people openly smoke in them. Oddly enough, this was the largest culture shock I experienced in my year in Italy, and although not life-changing, as a non-smoker it’s an unpleasantness which needs mentioning. Unless you enjoy the smell of stale Camel cigarettes and vodka, I would recommend not wearing anything that you’re planning on wearing again before a thorough wash.
This said, Milanese clubs are fantastic encounters that every student should be encouraged to try out. The music will vary from the biggest modern day EDM hits to throwback classics (R. Kelly and Sean Paul are a given) and the Italians certainly know how to build a party atmosphere.
When it’s nearing sunrise and you’re stanchi morti (a charming turn of phrase meaning “dead tired”), night buses run all through the night in Milan. This makes passing out in bed wherever you’re staying – be it an Airbnb, a hotel or a mate’s sofa – incredibly easy.
If in the morning you’re rendered too hungover to get up and experience any culture, don’t worry. That is completely normal. You didn’t want to see the Duomo anyway.
Featured Image: That’s Milan.com