Ramble On: Slithering 'til Daybreak
The speed had gotten a bit chunky in Alisa's pocket, due
partly to condensation but more to whatever crap had been
used to cut it. God forbid a dealer would sell quality crystal
meth in this town. Ask any non-junkie drug enthusiast if
they'd be willing to pay a bit more for less filler, and
answer is always yes. There's little to be done, though.
Just as hot air rises, drug dealers will always water down
laid down the first rails in the tiny park on the Staré
Mesto side of Stefániku v bridge. Crush, cut, sniff.
And, in my case, sniff again. And again. I was having trouble
with allergies and had even less than my usual one good
nostril. The speed hung up there like a crusty booger, forcing
me to pull it in with a deep breath and suffer the burn.
off we went. First to the usual spots where we saw old friends,
new friends, and strangers. School's back in session, so
the bars are packed. Gaggles of people wide-eyed with wonder,
drink and drug. Five hours later, after hours of speedy
comfortable chatter, the house lights are on. Time flies.
It's time to choose the sunrise venue.
a long meander through old town, I found myself taking stock
of my life while sitting in Batalion at an hour that would've
yielded daylight three months ago. I feel at home in this
place; partly from the metal soundtrack that echoes my teenage
years, partly for the dirty music club feel that echoes
my college years. The front room upstairs offers several
tables with a view of the street, and the flow of people
keeps you alive like circulating water for captive lobsters.
The basement has larger tables and dark, dungeon bricks
appropriate to the soundtrack. Batalion is a good 4:00 a.m.
spot, the place to go when you need to sit with a drink
and consider what's next. You're no longer at 110%, but
aren't ready to head home, either.
4:40 a.m. and we hit the baggie for the last time. Drug
use in Prague is about still believing that the wizard is
real, about never seeing the old man behind the curtain.
It's about knocking down the doubts and convincing oneself
that life should be easy. It's about forgetting that true
satisfaction comes from challenge and struggle and - let's
just say it - from pain. If you're not careful at 4:40 a.m.
- with the raw edge of come-down on the horizon, when the
field at the trance party no longer looks like a magical
wonderland, when you make the mistake of looking in the
fluorescent-lit mirror in the bathroom - you can fall hard
into a despair of self-loathing borne of self-doubt.
you hit the baggie one last time. Or you eat that second
half of the second pill. At 4:55 a.m., I was cupping this
ridiculous destiny in my hands, cuddled not with a loved
one in a soft bed, but with a friend in a filthy bathroom
stall, holding out my American Express card so he could
take a hit of filthy Czech bathtub crank.
time: Industry55 or Le Clan. There are other places, sure,
but these two Vinohrady neighbors are the most dependable
places to escape the light. Industry for dancing, Le Clan
for landing; each with their own unique smell of decadence.
With a fresh dose of amphetamine bravado running through
the body, there's no reason not to do both. All you need
at this stage in the night are people. You need to witness
life being lived. You need to be surrounded by fellow crawlers
of similar mind frame and distortion, either sped up or
riding out their last, diminishing waves.
is the best choice in tail-end dance clubs, a downstairs
hideout where you can't look behind the curtain because
there is no curtain. This club knows what it is, knows what
it isn't, and everyone's there for the same reason: to burn
off the traces of rocket fuel running through their blood.
The two-level dance area is anchored by a shiny bar and
flanked by a chill-out room with couches. In back is another
bar and a small foosball room. On Saturday and Sunday, the
music (heavy on the straight-ahead techno) goes until noon.
you want to start the descent, get out of Industry and walk
down Vinohradská, turn right onto Balbínova
and ring the buzzer at 23. This is Le Clan. With good DJs,
sexy crowd, soft-red lighting, and a gritty, couch-strewn
ping-pong dungeon, this is the best after-party scene in
Prague. When your head is still buzzing around like a fly
caught in a jar but your body has lost the rush, find a
spot and stretch. This is when conversational inhibitions
are beautifully absent, when statements between friends
are delightfully deconstructed. This is when your drugs
are almost done lying to you, but not quite. When the tanks
are empty, wish your friends goodnight and step into the
crisp daylight. Head home to watch some movies, maybe listen
to some music, letting your body slowly and gently touch
down. Just try not to sleep the whole day away. That's when
the self-loathing of the day-after really takes hold.