Published June 1, 2012
I had a drink with an elderly couple from Washington, D.C. the other day. They were stopping over for a few days before continuing elsewhere and our mutual friend in D.C. thought it would be fun for us to meet. So I met them and we chatted a bunch about what it’s like to live in Iceland.
At some point, one of them asked, “So, what’s the nightlife like?” Well, I thought, there’s a lot to say about that. Notably, director Quentin Tarantino once said: “In America, the idea is to get the girls drunk enough to go home with you; in Iceland it’s to get the girls home with you before they get so drunk that they´re passing out in your bathroom or vomiting all over you.” But I didn’t really feel like getting into that nightlife discussion.
Still, I told them that most people head downtown after midnight and then proceed to drink themselves silly until 6 AM. And that’s when they told me something about Reykjavík’s nightlife that I didn’t know. Namely, that the US State Department actually warns travellers about it. I looked it up upon returning home and sure enough, after standard advice like, “Do not put any bags containing valuables, such as your passport, down on the ground” and “Do not leave your valuables in parked vehicles, even if the vehicle is locked,” the State Department website states: “In addition, be aware that downtown Reykjavik can become disorderly in the early morning hours on weekends.”
As much as I was surprised to see this on the State Department’s website, it’s true that Reykjavík becomes disorderly and people should be aware of it. Take a stroll downtown after 2 AM and you’ll see drunken Icelanders smashing glass bottles on the streets, peeing on buildings, and puking on themselves. Yes, disorderly to say the least.
If that has you turned off, you should also know that some bars in 101 Reykjavík are less disorderly than others. To help you find your kind of bar, The Grapevine threw itself into harm’s way last weekend and drank a beer at every single downtown bar to make a comprehensive bar guide, which you can read on page 19.