Considering that it is such a large city – the second biggest in Sweden, population of over half a million – Gothenburg’s nightlife scene can, at best, be summed up as ‘confusing’. Kenneth described it as ‘the city that sleeps’ and how right he was. During the day, it bustles; it’s vibrant and alive and infectious. The sheer beauty of Gothenburg’s inhabitants and their mostly impeccable style inspires you to join in – to take fika, to wander the avenue, to hold a crayfish party. Whatever they’re doing, I want a piece of it, I want to be a piece of it. In the daylight hours, that is.
Then darkness falls. You alight from the tram at central station, thinking that the key word of ‘central’ may be indicative of something lively. But as you step down from the rickety tin can in which you have travelled, the streets seem suddenly empty. You gaze around, seeking out telltale bright lights and distant music but it’s silent and dim, except for seemingly ever present arrows pointing towards a 24 hour McDonald’s. You get back on the tram, thinking that maybe Brunnsparken is the place you need, but where several hours earlier you were pushing through crowds of people to cross the bridge to Nordstan, now there’s a clear path, all for you. It leads to a 24 hour McDonald’s.
This fruitless search can continue for many hours, clambering on and off an endless amount of trams, thinking that it must be the next stop, then the next, then the next. The search is as infinite, and as hopeless, as walking towards the end of the rainbow to find the pot of gold. It just never comes. After a while of this half-drunk stumbling around the city, everybody begins to lag a little, and the night seems to go any number of three ways:
1) No matter which path the aimless adventure has taken, it always seems to lead to Queen’s. Queen’s is a bar, but only in the most basic definition of the term. Its first downfall is how ludicrously expensive it is, considering that it is, essentially, just a quite grotty pub. It is here where Suzanne famously paid 89kr for one single vodka and lemonade. That equates to about £9 in Britain. £9 for 25 measly millilitres of alcohol? God help us all. It is also startlingly bright in there. I’m not sure who told the owners that stark strip lighting was a good feature of a bar but they were most mistaken. If nothing else, it means your sobriety and disappointment has no hiding place. At worst, you’re completely unable to escape the fact that the irritating Swedish man you seem to be talking to has the most unfathomably miniscule head you’ve ever seen.
2) If, in a happy twist of fate, you didn’t end up at Queen’s, or you did but after one drink there remember how diabolic it is, the next step seems to be resorting to asking a local for directions to a club. I say resorting because the people around whom you can ask are most definitely not the chic locals who paced these streets the preceding afternoon. However, times are desperate, and off somebody trots with their best Swedish accent, returning with a hesitant tour guide. This method has led me to both a terrifying death metal club and a jazz club. I have to admit that the jazz club did end up being quite good fun, but I suppose it was only in a making the best of things kind of way. I apparently ran laps of the dance floor (which says everything about how few people were in there), whilst Kenneth rotated his fists and shouted ‘woo woo’. We all had a jolly good laugh at the strange girl who appeared to be tagging along with us, and I had a solitary laugh at the very large girl dancing alone in the corner.
3) Perhaps after Queen’s spirits were so damp that no dance moves could be summoned, or perhaps the evening had turned into a wild goose chase of non-existent bars, but sometimes the only option is to call it a bad job and go home. This usually isn’t quite as dismal as it sounds, as it seems to either involve food (although I have to admit that too regularly ‘food’ means drunk ryvita, which is just not satisfying at all) or, on one occasion which I mentioned a few weeks ago, you end up dancing around somebody’s room with a refilled glass of wine, a wooden spoon and most of the lights dimmed at long last. Phew.
At least, that was the way nights went, until we discovered the very ominously named Sticky Fingers. I suppose now is the time to admit that on our first proper visit to here, I was perhaps ever so slightly too drunk and therefore remember little to none of the night, although I heard astoundingly good reviews from everybody else. Last Saturday, we made a return trip, and I was on my best behaviour, pre-drinking 2% alcohol cider and being very restrained on the tequila front. The result of this slight self-moderation was that I had a great night, racing around the dance floor and taking incriminating pictures of everybody else. (There’s nothing like another’s misfortune to make you get over your own embarrassment, aye.)
I’m not sure that Sticky Fingers is actually a particularly astounding venue – with a name like that, how can it be? – or if it’s simply a welcome change to the endless hunter gathering that characterised our first few nights out. Either way, I have a feeling that this Saturday night routine of renting the TV room then racing to Sticky Fingers to get in free before ten may be here to stay. As long as I get to dress up and drink some wine and dance horrendously, I don’t mind one bit; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, I guess. And there’s not a McDonald’s sign in sight. Hallelujah.