World's Craziest Party Towns
Published: May 2009
By April Orcutt
Go ahead—get crazy in these 10 festive hot spots around the globe. You won’t be alone.
“Goths in black leather sit next to new-century punks with dyed Mohawks, who are talking to a group of ‘80s revival, thrift-shop girls on their way to a party that’ll be DJ’d by a transvestite,” says Peter Chow, 30, an American student living in Berlin. He’s describing what he sees on the subway coming home from carousing at 5 a.m. in this anything-goes party town (though 5 a.m. is of course way early to quit). “It’s impossible to be bored in this city.”
Revelers may converge on party meccas like Rio de Janeiro, Munich, and New York City for specific events like Carnival, Oktoberfest, and New Year’s, but a great party town is one that buzzes year-round. It’s an expectation that Berlin lives up to, night after night. And the same holds true for other hot spots around the globe.
Take New Orleans. The Big Easy goes extra wild for Mardi Gras, of course, but the sultry, unabashedly debauched town that’s launched many a music career is a party that never stops. “New Orleans just has great odd things happening,” says resident Sally Asher, mid-30s, who loves eclectic music venues, like Rock ‘n’ Bowl, where Cajun dancing mixes with bowling.
It’s not a surprise that many of our party towns are in urban areas. Big-city vibrancy and sophistication permeates São Paulo, Brazil, often referred to as the “New York of South America” for its international culture and ethnic mix. The term “balada,” meaning “excitement, partying, and fun starting at midnight and lasting till noon,” began with Paulistanos, residents of São Paulo. And Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is famous for its Nordic brand of nightlife, and even economic downturn hasn’t stopped the revelry—it just makes partying more affordable for tourists stopping after easy flights from the U.S. or Europe.
But cities aren’t the only places to find a party. Islands, too, often spur the urge to get up and dance. Greece’s island of Mykonos, for example, lures sun and song worshipers. “The whole hungover island dozes until around noon,” says Mark Guiducci, 20, a Princeton University student from San Diego, reflecting on his most recent visit. “Then the beaches and clubs become populated with beautiful people, and techno music again percolates across the island.”
And you know you’re in party-land when the nightclub holds 10,000 guests. That’s the claim made by Privilege, a club on the Spanish island of Ibiza (also home to the “foam party,” where cannons spray suds over exuberant dancers until they’re neck-deep in bubbles).
But great parties aren’t restricted to tropical climes. Ask Gable Richardella, a ski instructor in Steamboat Springs, in Colorado’s Yampa Valley. “Steamboat is a great party town,” he says, “because locals are pulled to like-minded people who enjoy life and want to have a good time—and end up staying in Steamboat longer than they thought they would.” He’s lived in the resort town 15 years.
Richardella cites the “Yampa Valley Curse,” which says, “Once you come to the valley, you are destined to return.” Maybe that’s the “curse” of all party towns—no one ever wants to leave.