by Brianna Novak
“A Gin Tonic, please”. A big queue stands behind the bar and everyone is waiting to be served their drinks. The bartender tries to serve every order quickly so that no one has to wait too long. The effort and stress can be seen – a bead of sweat runs down his forehead. The bartender gives the young lady her gin and tonic and she walks away with a smile on her face. Next to the bar, in the corner, there is a round table with two people. Red fingernails of a girl embrace the glass of white wine while she looks into the bright blue eyes of a young man sitting opposite her. He speaks to her, whereupon she laughs heartily, and dimples can be seen on her face. At the very beginning of the room, there is a large table with a group of six Italians. In front of each person there is a glass of beer and just as many empty glasses around it, which the waitress cannot take all at the same time. Each of the men is in a loud conversation full of laughter. At the bar, the bartenders try to mix the cocktails quickly to serve the next Sex on the Beach. If you go to the exit, a cloud of smoke, which initially takes your breath away, will greet you. All smokers stand outside and are engrossed in a conversation.
It’s 2 AM in Amsterdam and the street is glowing. Everywhere you can hear voices and see bars full of life. Through the windows you can spot numerous people sipping their alcoholic drinks and talk. But if all the people are in the bars, where are the dancing people in the clubs? Statistics prove that the number of clubs is decreasing and bars are becoming more popular. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, for example, in Germany the number of bars has risen sharply but the number of clubs has fallen. There is a clear change in the party culture and the reasons for it are versatile.
The Italian men hold their beers in the air to toast to a good evening. Matteo fulfils all the clichés of a young Italian. He has dark brown curly hair, big brown eyes and looks like kissed by the sun. “Club? A bar is much more relaxed. We come from Milan and have some big clubs there but in a bar you can talk better and stay among yourself”, he tells. A remix of the song “The Power of Love” by the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood is playing at medium volume. Another young man called Luca adds: “Besides, we are a big group and not everyone here has the same taste in music. In the club the focus is more on music and dancing, in a bar on communication”. The youth researcher Philipp Ikrath from Vienna says that the subcultures, which are oriented towards a musical direction and youth culture, do not exist anymore for ten years. Nowadays, the music is divided into several sub-scenes, which have their own specific meeting places. In his opinion, clubs today are no longer a place of cultural identity as they used to be. Young people no longer go to clubs to belong to a certain culture. “These days, it’s an emotional place to visit to have some fun. It’s lost its meaning”, Ikrath says.
The 22-year-old Julia and Levi – the couple in love at the table in the corner – thinks that a bar is a nice place for a date. “This is our third date and we enjoy the drinks very much. People surround you but you still have your privacy. In a club I don’t like spending money on drinks because they usually don’t taste good”, Julia, the blond girl with the green eyes tells. People who visit a bar usually want to enjoy their drinks and for that reason they like to spend a little more money. In a club, the drinks are secondary, since many young people already drink at home in order not to spend too much money on drinks in the club. Levi adds: “In a bar you can leave whenever you want. If you are in a club you pay for the entry and you are bound to stay a few hours. After that you come home very late and drunk, the next day you have bad hangover. I can’t afford it because I have a lot to learn on the weekends”. The expert Ikrath confirms his statement: “Students hardly have time to do anything or go out because of their studies and work”. Many students have to earn money, mostly on weekends, to finance their studies and lives. There is simply no time to celebrate.
It’s 3 AM. Matteo enters his secret code on the reader to pay the drinks. Then everyone takes their jacket and goes to the exit. “We’re going to the next bar!”.