Spaniards are known for doing many things later in the day than northern Europeans (eating being the main one) and partying is no exception. So, if you want to run with a crowd of Spaniards on a night out, you won’t be starting on your first beer or copa (cocktail or spirit and mixer) until at least 10pm – and even that would be a relatively early start.
If it’s going to be a truly late one – i.e. in a club until dawn – then Spaniards will rarely go out before about midnight. The key is to have dinner at about 10 pm to really set yourself up for a night out Spanish-style.
Once out, the types of venue visited usually follow a particular order. First, there’s tapas in the bars, accompanied by either beer or wine; second, you’ll graduate to what Spaniards generically call “pubs”, which in the UK would be actual pubs as well as late-night bars, where you drink copas; and then it’s on to a club for the rest of the night.
Spaniards love to socialise and party over a few drinks, but you rarely see them falling-over drunk, even when they’ve been out all night. This is partly due to the fact that eating and drinking go together in Spain in a way that they tend not to in the UK (see below), but also because Spaniards are masters at pacing themselves.
Doing the same is crucial to Spanish-style drinking and partying, especially if you’re going to be out all night. Start on the beers and take it slowly, perhaps interspersing the booze with an occasional soft drink to keep yourself from flagging.
Spaniards often find it weird that people from the U.S. or northern European countries will go out drinking all evening without eating a thing; indeed, the separation that exists in the U.K, for example, between going to a restaurant for a meal and going to the pub to drink is much more blurred in Spain. Understanding that fact is crucial not just to partying with Spaniards but to appreciating Spanish culture in general.
So, before you hit a club (possibly the only kind of Spanish party venue where people don’t eat, mainly because they’re too busy dancing), keep the tapas coming with your drinks. Not only is this a great way to sample a variety of different dishes from the region you’re in, but it will also extend your night out by increasing your stamina.
If there’s one thing to remember and accept when partying with Spaniards is that nothing has a fixed time and there is no plan. It’s a far cry from drinks parties in the UK that have a set beginning and end time. Dinner might last for hours, the next venue won’t be decided until you’re virtually upon it, and the night will have various stages, each merging organically into the next. Just relax, go with the flow and forget all about time.