Seeing as Vicky was arriving the Friday evening from Dijon, I had decided to take her on a Parisian night out, an event for Paris IV students in Montparnasse. In true classy English girl style, we decided to crack open the vin de pamplemousse (Vicky’s recommendation, not mine – though it rather moreish!) before heading over to Odéon to meet some of my Erasmus friends. The rest of the evening went plummeting downhill from there.
So far I think I have seen life in Paris through particularly rose-tinted glasses and have only had positive experiences when going out, however this idyllic view was shattered in an instant. Friday night was something else. Having finally entered after a fairly long queue, we were eager to get into the club and onto the dance floor. Upon entry we were abruptly halted in our tracks by a blunt doorman who was not letting any girls through with handbags and was shunting them back to the cloakroom queue. This was nothing to do with safety, just a massive scam – 6 euros for a coat and bag. If they were that concerned about security, they would have checked peoples’ bags and not prised their possessions away from them. What’s more, I saw several girls with bags who told me that they had come much earlier when we finally got in. Though we weren’t going to let this first obstacle hinder our night, and went straight to the bar for a much needed drink. Hurdle number two – apparently you needed a refillable cup and your ticket each time you wanted a drink. Thinking my ticket was pretty much surplus after entry, I had left that in my bag along with pretty much everything else – great. Luckily a friend slipped me his ticket, so the problem was solved for the time being. Our patience had already been tested several times, but we tried to keep spirits high and went to dance. The music was exactly as it was advertised: ‘old skool’, which was fine, but the general atmosphere and combination of difficulty after difficulty was resulting in a less than average night. After getting spilt up from my other friends and being refused at the bar without a ticket yet again, mine and Vicky’s patience was really wearing thin. We didn’t quite understand why the bar was making it so difficult – didn’t it want our money?! I suggested calling it a night so we could get the last metro home to avoid taxi costs.
And here the nightmarish evening hits an all-time low. Vicky received her stuff almost instantly, though I am kept waiting a bit which doesn’t concern me at first in the slightest – it’s a busy night and there are a lot of people leaving. Though after about ten minutes of watching a guy wade through coats with no success, I do start to get a bit agitated – my bag has my metro pass, my phone and my keys. I ask if there is a problem, though I receive a very blunt ‘non’ and am informed that he is looking. As time began to tick away, I once again made my presence known, as none of the staff could quite look me in the eye. My breaking point was when the guy I had been ‘served’ by began to deal with other punters. I was then ushered through to the cloakroom in order to stop me from drawing attention to their inadequate customer service. And still no coat or bag. Seeing as I was standing there completely like a muppet I starting trawling through the coats myself but to no avail. Forty minutes had passed now and I was really starting to panic. Yet every time I expressed my anxiety I was quite literally told to pipe down. Meanwhile Vicky was waiting for me on the other side of the counter, where a bouncer was continuously accusing me of not having a real ticket and making up fictitious belongings. I was really starting to fume by now and our treatment by the staff was absolutely abysmal. After several heated arguments and insults of their customer service, my stuff was miraculously discovered and shoved into my hands. When I angrily demanded a full refund, I was shouted at and bundled out the door before I could argue. Though after that escapade I was more than happy to make a quick getaway (if you can really call it that…) So we had without doubt missed the last metro by this time and forked out for a taxi seeing as we were just in the mood to get home. This was my first experience of such rudeness here, however Vicky says that this is far from her first time and is often discriminated due to the English binge drinking stereotype. As much as this is a problem back home, it is still completely unfair to treat a group of internationals differently according to their nationality. After a stressful night, we told our woes to some very sympathetic French men in one of my local kebab shops. And once again I heard that famous phrase I have heard quoted several times by Parisians: «Bienvenue à Paris»