All too often visitors like yourself can be seen wandering the streets of Reykjavík in your hiking boots at around nine or ten o’clock on a Friday or Saturday night. As most stores have long since closed by that time, we assume you’re curious to see the so-called party capital of the north in action. If that’s the case, do yourself a favour and read this manual first.
To save money, groups of friends tend to drink at home before going out on the “djamm” as they like to call it. In fact, partygoers rarely head downtown before midnight so you might as well take a nap and then come back out later to see what all those guidebooks are talking about. Then you might also want to down an espresso or two because you’ll be up until at least four; Icelanders like to drink themselves silly.
Watch out for trúnó
As the night progresses you might find yourself cornered by a stranger who feels the need to express their deepest secrets. This is called trúnó. The female version of trúnó usually takes place in the bathroom. Here in the pleasant atmosphere of a public toilet, women of varying degrees of familiarity will open their hearts and tell you things you probably do not want to hear. You will probably—depending on your level of intoxication—sympathise and offer a similar story in exchange or you may choose to simply agree that yes, he is a total douche.
The experience is somewhat different for men. It can happen anywhere and involves rare displays of affection and/or hugging followed by more drinking with amped intensity. This small window of time is often used to bring up old grudges and resolve them. The reason for trúnó is thought to have something to do with Icelanders’ centuries-old tradition of bottling up their feelings. In fact, you can even find examples of trúnó in the ancient Icelandic Sagas. There’s that one time when Gunnar and Njáll of Njál’s Saga go on trúnó and bury the war hammer. It’s true! Look it up.
When you find yourself the target of unnecessary trúnó, don’t panic! Simply wait until the perpetrator’s beer is empty and he or she will go to the bar, kitchen or tent to replenish it, leaving you ample time to make your escape.
Prepare for djammviskubit
Now if you’re reading this on Sunday afternoon after a night or weekend of wild, Icelandic-style drinking-till-dawn, you are probably experiencing a very common form of hazy depression. The symptoms of which include but are not limited to: self-loathing, guilt, regret, and embarrassment. Basically you feel like shit, yet you lack a single, perfect word to describe your condition.
Dear readers, we have such a word! The feeling you are experiencing is what Icelanders call djammviskubit. This is pronounced: (jam-wisk-oo-bit). It is the combination the Icelandic word for party (“djamm”) and the word for guilt (“samviskubit”). As if the psychological symptoms of djammviskubit weren’t horrible enough, they are accompanied by physical symptoms such as pounding headache, nausea, strange bruises, extreme thirst, and in rare cases (hell who are we kidding) the presence of an unknown entity in your bed.
Do not—under any circumstances—check your bank account in your fragile condition. Call a friend and eat some greasy food, or go to the movies or a swimming pool. These are all popular healing rituals among Icelanders who will mostly be fine by the time Monday rolls around. Then it’s about putting our nose to the grindstone and just like that Loverboy song we’re all “working for the weekend” again. Come Friday, we wash, rinse, and repeat. Welcome to Iceland, we’ll see you on the djamm!