Schooled at Night

A diver goes down at Strahov’s student dives.

I went to college in New York City, where the term “student pub” means “that Mexican
restaurant on MacDougal St. where they don’t check IDs.” Luckily I procured a
fake one early, which enabled me to party in style with the grown-ups, but I missed
out on the whole traditional university experience of getting shit-faced and puking
alongside my peers. In a rare moment of profound regret, I decided to fill this
gap in my life experience while I’m still young-looking enough to get reduced
admission at museums without having to show my nonexistent school credentials.

My guide was Pablo Diablo, fiercest Indian on the Eastern frontier and a student
at Prague’s Economics University. We took the tram out to Andel, then hopped on
bus 217. Around the time I began to suspect that I was no longer in the Czech
Republic, we arrived at Koleje Strahov, a bleak landscape of dormitories in Prague
6. We were met by Diablo’s pal Fox, one of the 6,000 students who reside there.
Fox led us toward the bright lights straight ahead, past the fenced-in athletic
field where a bunch of dudes were playing soccer. Fox told me they play every
night until 2 a.m., no matter how cold it is. Wow, this really is dorm life –
jocks and everything.

We descended into the mammoth basement of Klub 01. (All of the dorm buildings
are numbered here, for your intoxicated convenience.) It was early, and the place
was nearly empty. I slapped down a note in exchange for the biggest motherfucking
sma?en'' s''r I’ve ever seen in my life; it’s the perfect way to commence an evening
of hardcore alcohol abuse. As soon as we’d finished our beers and I’d licked the
last bit of red cabbage off my plate, we were ready to find a more happening joint.

In the next building, Night Club 10 was so happening that there wasn’t even a
place to sit. Granted, it’s a lot smaller than 11, with only one room crammed
to the brim with pool tables, darts and behavior ranging from laid-back to delinquent
disorderliness. Cigarette smoke and punk rock filled the air. It’s the perfect
setting for a barroom brawl, if you’re into that sort of thing. I wanted to stay,
but Fox and Diablo needed a place to rest their cheeks after a long day of cramming
microeconomics into their noggins, so we moved on.

We walked across the field – where the dudes were still playing soccer even though
it felt like Antarctica out there – and toward an illuminated sign. “Market” led
us to the late-night convenience store with the funny name: U Černocha. “At the
Black Guy’s.” Next door is Himalaya, offering “Indian Food Czech Food Vegetarian
Food.” Indian tapestries line the cozy interior, but the only food I noticed was
a plate of fries with a sludge of mayonnaise in the center. The spice that my
nose detected wasn’t curry, but something green. Inspired, Diablo pulled out his
satchel filled with funky skunky and we proceeded to cloud our brains as our waitress
swiftly plopped down a triple order of dirt cheap Gambrinus.

“Hey, wait a minute.” The place was packed with a warm, friendly student crowd,
but something was missing. “Where are all the girls?”

Fox laughed and estimated the male-to-female dormitory ratio to be about 99 to
5. But, he assured me, the coeds from Karlova flood the place on the weekends.

Fox’s roommate joined us as we moved next door to another numbered basement: 007.
You won’t find Pussy Galore here, only DJs spinning hip hop and punk, and an occasional
live hardcore band. On this particular evening, reggae blasted through the sound
system, a few skinheads hovered around the bar with glass bottles in hand, and
I was suddenly overcome with a moment of déja vu from my previous life as a tweeker
... Something about an Antiseen show, making the acquaintance of a cute Swedish
chick with a mohawk on a class field trip ... Yes, I’d definitely been there before,
and it must’ve been cool since I don’t remember very much of it.

Fox and Diablo weren’t digging the rasta vibe, so we decided to give 011 a second

By the time we returned to our original destination, it had been transformed from
a musty dungeon without prisoners into a full-fledged Euro disco! The crowd was
rowdy and drunk and carefree, which is how I’ve always pictured student pubs to
be. The sterile fluorescent lighting had been axed, and the room was now a dance
floor where a few dudes and a chick rocked out with pints in hand. Unfortunately,
we were so drunk that nobody could roll a proper joint. By the time Diablo’s magic
fingers did the trick, Fox’s friend had grown impatient and left. When we stepped
outside to smoke it, we discovered that the soccer guys were finally gone. I guess
they sensibly decided to join the party.

After some foosball, we made our way back toward the bus, stopping on the way
for a nightcap at Dance Club 01. I drew on a poster advertising an upcoming jazz
concert while we waited for someone to open the door. I don’t understand why you
have to buzz to be admitted, considering that barring the barman, the place was
totally empty. Pop music polluted the airwaves and Britney Spears shook her tits
at us from a television monitor. We changed our minds about the nightcap and instead
headed for the exit.

Some of us, after all, had school the next day.

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