The nightlife wall

The nightlife wall

The first thing you should know is that I'm a 16-year-old Italian student at the International School of Florence (ISF). The second thing you should know is that I love this city and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.   However, being a student at

Thu 06 May 2010 12:00 AM

The first thing you should know is that I’m a 16-year-old Italian student at the International School of Florence (ISF). The second thing you should know is that I love this city and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.


However, being a student at ISF, I have the oppportunity to be friends with both Italians and Americans. So you could say I have two lives: my international life, and my Italian life. This has also given me the chance to see this city in two different lights.


A major difference between my American and Italian friends is the way they spend their Saturday nights. Mine usually consists in going out to dinner with friends, followed by a jaunt over to Old Stove. However, I occasionally go to clubs with my Italian friends.  Honestly, if I didn’t have my Italian friends, I’d probably never go dancing. And this is likely why I never see American students at clubs like Tenax, Meccanò, Yab, Viper, Pavoreal, which are some of the most popular clubs in Florence. My American friends don’t know where to buy entry tickets, from whom, or the cost. The same goes for me: my Italian friends always take care of all that. Otherwise I’d still believe that PRs are night creatures who only come out long after sunset, or have secret identities like superheroes.


So, if many of us spend our Saturdays outside Old Stove in our All Star Converse, instead of dancing ourselves silly in stilettos, and aren’t satisfied, it’s not our fault, right? Is it that Florence’s clubs don’t publicize well enough? Or does it all depend on our cultural background?


According to some of my schoolmates, it’s a bit of both. Carla, an Italian girl, says ‘Florentine students are socially exclusive; they aren’t too friendly with outsiders.’ Unfortunately, I tend to agree. Cathleen, who is Dutch, says ‘Italians go to local places where they can socialize in their circles and avoid hordes of tourists.’ She adds, ‘I think there is a difference between nightlife for Americans and Italians because most Americans target a tourist night scene and bars with special discounts, like the ones on flyers that people around the centre hand out.’ This also suggests that ‘Italian night scenes’ are less targeted towards Americans, whether they are tourists or students.


My Facebook page is always filled with events that never seem to appear on my American friends’ profiles. I want to change that. I want to know that if I feel like going clubbing somewhere other than Space Electronic I have the option of going with any one of my non-Italian friends.


Most of my peers seem to believe that part of this ‘nightlife wall’  between Florentine and American teens depends on cultural difference. For example, in the United States you can’t go clubbing or drink legally if you are under 21, while both are allowed at age 16 in Italy. Another factor is that Italians are more willing to spend surprising amounts of cash (€50 is the least I’ve ever spent) for a few hours of dancing in a dark room, with loud repetitive music that leaves your ears whistling long after you leave. Don’t get me wrong, I adore that whistling! Nonetheless, I also enjoy sitting outside a pub in Florence and drinking beer with my friends. It might be that Americans simply have different preferences as to how to spend their Saturday nights, but it is also true that we Italians don’t make much effort to open up to different communities.


I think it’s time to start breaking down this nightlife wall. 


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