(roughly edited as of 3.10.07)
Determined to make a name for ourselves in the Swedish socialite network, Cara and I turned to where most socialites go for nightclub advice…Google and tourist pamphlets. We read about a nightclub that was “buzzing with energetic and optimistic youth,” it was in the same building as “the Spy Bar,” which was “legendary within the Stockholm community.” For me the Spy Bar carried images of an international crowd dressed mostly in black suits and cocktail dresses; one hand on the martini and the other hand stealthily fingering the Glock 45 stashed above the cummerbund. I couldn’t decide which suited me best for although I am an optimistic youth, I have watched a lot of spy movies.
I didn’t bring a suit with me so we decided it best to head to the bar with those our age; besides it was in the same building as the Spy Bar so if we heard the sounds of gunfire and glass shattering we’d know that the party should move up to Spy Bar.
We had only been in Stockholm for twenty-four hours--ten of which had been spent sleeping--but we decided to make our way to the bar using our new knowledge of the metro and the best of our map reading skills. Although most people in Stockholm know excellent English, I still find the Swedish language best understood when accompanied by an IKEA instructional booklet. Each street had a name consisting of no fewer than eleven characters and many looking like typos of a street near it. In addition to the language handicap, our nightclubbing skills are best described as novice to non-existent. Aside from a few short, rowdy trips to Canada and the occasional “18 and under” night at an American club, our social smoothness consisted of shoving our ID into the bouncers hand and nodding with a nervous smile.
Luckily the area we were lost in had an active scene of hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs so while en route to our destination we compiled a mental list of possible alternative options. When you pass by the same street twice in a city you know nothing about you suddenly feel as if you’re going in circles and every road leads to this one. In our case we were going in circles and were finding our way back to “Dankiensplakanstein”. My mental list of possibilities was inching its way to the front of my mind when we reached our destination. We missed it before because it was…completely. dark. inside. Pressing our faces against the glass we could see what appeared to be a dance floor, and oh, over there looks like a possible bar, and those lights look like they’d be fun when you turn them on! The Spy Bar that seemed to be one floor up was dark as well, not even the faint sound of a silenced gun or refreshed martini. My youthful optimism was draining out of me like the drinks once served at the empty bar.
“There’s a TGIFriday’s over there,” I told Cara as I pointed to the restaurant’s façade speckled with a few too-drunk-too-early individuals who looked like they could have been plucked from the middle of Pennsylvania. Except blonder. We retraced our steps looking for our other options. Walking along one of the nearby streets we could hear what sounded like fun in a side street. Making sure to walk as inconspicuously as possible we came upon an “MTV EUROPE VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS PARTY MUNICH” sign outside a grand hotel and bar. “When did we arrive in Germany?” I thought to myself. The entrance had two security guards flanking a red velvet rope. Next to the entrance was a large MTV logo carved out of ice, and inside music, lights, and hordes of attractive people solidified our notion that this was, indeed, a party. I walked past the hotel fingering my Pennsylvania Drivers license in my pocket and chuckling to Cara at the notion of going to an MTV party while in Stockholm. While I played it off as a joke I was already mentally picturing what kind of activities were going on inside and which celebrity was shouting into their Blackberry, “I can’t hear you! I’m at this MTV thing in Stockholm,” as they absentmindedly brush off the silver platter containing cocaine, caviar and assorted condoms.
The best bet seemed to be an anonymous club that had not only a large group of young Swedes outside but a ton inside as well; the wall of windows displaying the dancing rituatals of the young Swedish community. We passed this bar before and were hesitant as well because Cara had spotted some small pieces of paper clutched in each of their porcelain hands. “Is everything a private party in Stockholm?” I asked, spotting the flyers Cara had mentioned. Cara seemed to be hesitant as to the notion of us going out at all this night and I swear I could have spotted her looking in the direction of the TGIFridays but I was determined to experience Swedish social life, dignity or no dignity. “Let’s just go up to the guy, and see what happens. At least we know its all people our age, a lot of these other places seem to be older people.” I led the way, traversing the chain-smoking youths till I reached the doorman. He said something to me in Swedish and I nodded as if I understood, taking out my wallet and reaching for my ID. He said something in Swedish again and I leaned in further; perhaps if I hear it more clearly I’ll understand the language. I gave him a slight smirk and reached for my ID again. “Have you been in here before,” he said, in English. I looked over to Cara as if she would know more than I would. “No it’s our first real day in Stockholm but we really love it! Stumbled upon a great thrift store and went to a Toy museum that I think you’d really love!” I wanted to say, impressing him with my admiration for his city. I simply shook my head no. “It’s a private party. Under 18 Birthday. No alcohol,” he said, sensing my confusion and putting it into simplistic of terms. “Ohhh” I said as I shook my head up and down showing him how I fully understood now. Looking over at Cara who was silent beside me, I turned back to the man and replied with a friendly chuckle, “Then nooo” as if I still had the option and was simply turning it down due to the fact that it was filled with minors and had no alcohol. I was too much of a mature drinker for that party indeed!
“Let’s just go back to the MTV party, we could totally get in,” I said to Cara as we scampered away from the Swedish Super Sweet 16 we were just rejected from. She groaned as I pressed on. I was devising a mental monologue and back-story I could present the bouncer if they denied us entry. We are American MTV workers who are in Stockholm on some youthful business, this party being business of course. Our intern Rachel should have faxed your people our credentials but it’s so like Rachael to forget (we’d fire her but she’s a college intern and you can’t help but empathize). We had people to meet inside, goddamnit, who know what sort of important MTV business will go unfinished if we don’t get in and meet our colleagues. As we approached the entrance I was mouthing my personal profile and perfecting my business like strut. When I actually reached the entrance a group of people were leaving and I simply walked in as they walked out, blocking the absentminded security guard who was now on her own. Looking back as if someone behind me just said something totally plebian and annoying I saw that Cara had done the same and we were actually inside rather than walking to the real, more heavily guarded, entrance. We did make it inside…looks like intern Rachel finally did something right. I’ll have to make sure to thank her personally when I get back to New York.