British nightlife is full of paradoxes. Security to get in may be tight, but after that brief charade of sobriety we can spend all night being fairly openly fucked up. We'll buy bottles of water for the same price as a beer, then keep our hoodies on and sweat out all that hydration to avoid a cloakroom charge. We'll spend a week getting excited about seeing a DJ, then spend their entire set failing to see anything thanks to our MDMA-induced flicker-eye.
Imagine, then, how weird this behaviour must seem to those who haven't been raised amongst it. To find out, I asked visitors from around the world what they made of Britain's nightlife:
NINA, 21, FRANCE
"What probably struck me the most when I moved here was the pub culture and the actual amount people drink... which is a lot. It shocked me at first, but let's say I got immersed pretty quickly. People I've interacted with in bars were always really friendly, but I feel like living in Manchester did help a lot, as Mancunians – and people in the north – are so kind and just the best. Sorry, southerners.
"Also, the alcohol law was kind of strange for me to adapt to, because even though I look quite young for my age, I've never ever been ID'ed back home. Here, as I clearly look younger than 25, it's almost every time; I guess I felt kind of offended at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly and now I don't really care."
TENDELLE, 29, USA
"My first time in London was also my first time going clubbing alone. First stop in the club was the bar, for a Red Bull-vodka. To my dismay, the hard liquor bottles came with an automatic system designed to precisely measure out one shot. Instead of the free pouring I'm accustomed to from Spain and even the US, when I tried to ask for a little extra, the bartender said flatly: 'You mean a double shot? That's £10.'
“Besides the unfriendly English pouring system that made it very expensive for me to get drunk - thank you British lads for feeding me alcohol - Fabric was a drum and bass experience like I never had before. People I met there have been in the D&B community and coming to Fabric for more than 10 years! I’ll never forget the unique vibes of that night.”
ANT, 24, NEW ZEALAND
"My friends and I went to this place somewhere in London that was having a 'soul' night – Amy Winehouse impersonator and all. The cover charge was £20. You would never pay that back home unless, like, Amy herself had risen from the dead to perform an intimate set. Having paid that much, everybody there was determined to squeeze their damn money's worth out of the event. Loads of people had this vacant look in their eyes, like they'd been sitting on hold with the bank for 20 minutes. Drugs!
"Apparently this dude got punched by another guy and fell to the floor, and was gushing blood all over the show. Everyone had cleared the dancefloor, but I hadn't realised and continued dancing on the spot five feet from this gentleman bleeding out on the floor. I would have looked like one of the more committed partiers there. I'd never seen a bar fight at a cocktail lounge before."
KAYLA, 24, USA
"For one, I was very surprised by the fact that we were offered drugs right as we exited the station for the tube. Drugs are not as easily accessible in America, so this caught me off guard. Then, once we were actually in the club, there were so many people openly doing drugs. This isn't something I notice in American clubs, at least not on the dancefloors. Next, people were getting very intimate on the couches. There was a couple on top of each other on a couch. People overall seemed to be much more touchy and sensual."
GEMMA, 29, AUSTRALIA
"In Australia, if you miss a DJ you want to see, you probably won’t get the chance again for another year. But in London, you can catch your favourite artist every couple of months. People also stay out much later, too; in Sydney, everything closes at 3AM. People know so much more about electronic music and are more open-minded, whereas Australian DJs often have to work a lot harder to keep a dancefloor full, by playing more recognisable stuff. There are some amazing Australian underground scenes, the scale is just far smaller due to population and geographical isolation."
NIKITA, 22, ECUADOR
"After my first visit to the UK, all my memories are about good music, nice people and the best food. I went to three different clubs, and what really took my attention is how much they search for drugs when you enter the club, which is something you do not experience in Ecuador, even though drugs are illegal here too. Oh, and the free water! This is something that got my attention, as in Ecuador you have to pay for it. Every time I went to the bathroom I ended up adding someone to my social media. People were pretty nice and welcoming – I can't wait to go back again."
ALVARO, 35, COLOMBIA
"To me, the UK was a dream come true, in terms of music and fashion. Going around and seeing minimalist girls mixed with hip-hop styles and posh couples – a bunch of people you never expect to be together in the same place... it's unimaginable in another places in the world. However, the clubs I visited in London, Nottingham and Brighton didn't have the vibe I expected. Overcrowded, over-hot, overpriced, and people were less keen on dancing than I imagined.
"In Colombia, people buy bottles of liquor, while in the UK people just drink shots or beers... who can get drunk off shots? In terms of drugs, I didn't see anything really weird. The same shit everywhere: LSD, pills, weed, coke, etc. Probably with more money you can get better parties, but with the same amount of money you can have a really good time in Amsterdam or Berlin in quite good places."