Taking a complete turnaround from last post about academics, this post will discuss how the party scene here in Valparaiso differs from that in quaint college town, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Quick disclaimer: the legal drinking age in Chile is 18 and all alcoholic consumption that has occurred has been done in a safe and (relatively) orderly manner. Let me set the scene for you, my avid reader… a bustling, bohemian, breathless city filled with thousands upon thousands of university age students living with their parents and eager to dance the night away. Add on the fact that there are over a dozen clubs and no one seems bothered to ask for ID when selling alcohol, there is a thriving partying environment here in Valparaiso. While marijuana is not legalized in Chile, smelling it in a club or by a bar at night is commonplace. Or if you’re ever taking a walk by some of the universities after most of the students finish class, don’t be surprised to see students rolling a joint in the street to celebrate the end of class for the day.
While in Chapel Hill the weed/drinking culture isn’t quite as out in the open, it certainly still thrives, albeit a bit more concealed. A typical weekend night will be composed of a pre-game at someone’s apartment or house and then going to a club or house party. Here in Valpo, pre-games are almost unheard of, instead party-goers just head to the bars that are packed any day of the week past 10pm. Then again, going to bars might just be normal drinking behavior for those over 21 in the US, but that’s something this newly minted 20 year old doesn’t know much about. Drinks of choice range from shitty beer to pisco (a hard liquor that smells like pure chemicals) to my personal favorite, mint mojitos. Rumor has it that fireball does exist in Chile, but I have yet to track it down. The hunt continues.
Another cultural difference is that house parties are far less common here in Chile. Nearly everyone prefers to go to one of the many clubs littering the streets. Getting your name on a list for free entrance is easy enough if you have Chilean friends who take care of it for you. Once in the club it’s typically the same shin-dig as in the US. Drinks being downed, strangers sloppily making out, and some DJ with a backwards hat and sunglass screaming intelligible lyrics into a microphone. The music, similar to in Peru, is popular American electronic/pop songs, every now and then with a Latino artist thrown into the mix.
In addition to the typical drinks, weed, and dancing, there is an added factor unique to Chile: the ‘jote.’ Our IFSA-Butler group was initially warned about these creatures during orientation, but despite our eye-rolling they are far more real than we gave them credit. A ‘jote’, for those not fluent in chilenismos, is directly translated to a hawk, and indirectly translated to creepy men who stalk the dance floor to aggressively dance with girls. And without a doubt, gringas are the pick of the crop. If you’re a girl and you are approached by a ‘jote’, you have limited options. Saying you’re not interested is equivalent to speaking gibberish, and saying you have a boyfriend in the states will only get you a wave of the hand, a wink, and the quick utterance, “well then you need a Chilean boyfriend as well!” The one quick fix is to immediately begin dancing with a nearby male friend to get away from the preying ‘jote.’ That means that my job whenever out at clubs with female friends is to watch for the ‘jotes’ and make sure everyone remembers the hand signal for “save me!” which is something along the lines of the the butterfly movement used during the poetry reading in Napoleon Dynamite.
The clock strikes 3am, and after the bars, clubs, ‘jotes’, and jolly-good times, some party-goers are about ready to head home. Another hour or two passes and most of us gringos are yearning for bed, but Chileans play by a different rulebook. It’s not uncommon for Chilean partiers to stay out till 7 in the morning, quite literally dancing the night away. After a day of recuperation, they rinse and repeat. Overall, party culture isn’t that different from UNC campus, except for the fact that instead of a single college campus, this one ranges over an entire city.
That’s all for now, next time we’ll be exploring race and the lack of political correctness here in Chile, ooh la la.