In one of my first posts on my blog, I asked if you are ever too old for spring break (see Swamp Water published 3/20/2014). Today I ask, are you ever too old to go on a pub crawl? I’ll answer this question after describing my experience on a pub crawl in Warsaw. It was a Tuesday in the capital of Poland and I didn’t have the luxury of reading a post written by a competent blogger for where to party in Warsaw. (TPOL has you covered for Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Marseille, Madrid, Sanya, among others. See Food & Drink Travel Guide for many more.) Like staying in a hostel or swiping on Tinder, I believe that I’m cheating on my personality by going on a pub crawl. Anyone can make friends by paying for it, but the test of a solo traveler is to get it for free without the crutch of an artificial social setting. However, sometimes you’re only in a town for two nights, and you want to make the most out of it while avoiding the tourist traps. That was just the excuse I needed to rationalize going on this pub crawl.
I started at one bar and made friends with two young chaps from the UK. By the X bar, my group of acquaintances had grown to a dozen after successfully maneuvering through the typical questions about why Americans are apparently like this and that. The crawl ended on the infamous bar street of ul. Mazowiecka. Upon entering the club, the group of unassuming crawlers noticed a change in the vibe. What was once a casual binge fest turned into an awkward event. And it was due to the composition of the crowd. In the VIP area, there were men seated that did not look like they were there to party. Standing in the middle of the club were women dressed in sparkling outfits that didn’t fit the pub crawl scene. With no actual dancing, it felt like a homecoming dance but replace the parents as chaperones with questionable characters.
It didn’t take long for the group to leave the place. We met up with another crawl and went to another club. There we encountered the same bizarro scene. By the third place, I was convinced that one of two things was happening: 1) Dancing is frowned upon in Poland. 2) Pub crawls in Poland lead naive travelers to the same sex tourism bars like shady taxi drivers do in so many places in the world (see Guns & Butter: Bangkok Travel Guide). Annoyed at how such a promising evening could fizzle into this, I bid my new best friends farewell and headed back to the hotel.
The answer to the previous question I posed, “Are you ever to old to go on a pub crawl?” is a resounding no. Having said that, I am too well traveled to ignore the dark side of travel where women are exploited, and tourists look the other way simply because they are on holiday (see Ephedrine? Young Lady? Happy Ending?). There’s not enough free shots and 2-for-1 drink specials to make that okay.