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Grace Abroad: Pros and cons of UK going-out scene

After three weeks of living in the U.K., I was baffled by the going out scene. It's taken some adjustment, as nightlife is vastly different in Swansea, Wales. Unlike Athens, the U.K. requires more stamina for a night out. 

Here are some of the biggest differences between the going-out scenes in the U.K. and the U.S.:

Timing is everything

In the U.K., it's normal to go out around 11 p.m. That means you'll also get home a lot later, as many places don't have early closing times. In Athens, bars are required to shut down by 2:30 a.m. to ensure they're adhering to House Bill 674. 

However, bars in Swansea like Jack Murphy's and Proud Mary's typically close at 3 a.m. Even better, many food places stay open until these closing times, making it much easier to grab a bite to eat after a long night out.

2010s music is extremely popular

Surprisingly, the U.K. plays a lot of American pop songs that were popular during the 2010s instead of queuing up current hits. It's funny to hear songs like "Shout Out to My Ex" by Little Mix or "Worth It (feat. Kid Ink)" by Fifth Harmony play in a bar, but it's also way better than hearing the same five rap songs over and over again in the U.S. 

Most clubs and bars have DJs, and it's rare to find a place without people dancing and screaming along to something from the 2010s.

Etiquette is worse than in the U.S.

It's hard to believe, but the U.K. needs to improve bar etiquette. While the U.S. is not necessarily a champion of this, the norms around how to treat people in public are concerning. If you're in a bar or club, you will most likely get shoved around and cut in front of more than usual. People aren't very apologetic, so you have to learn not to take anything personally.

This common occurrence is why being with a big group of friends is extremely important, as it's easy to get lost when only with two or three other people. For women, it's also not very safe, as spiking drinks and sexual harassment are more frequent at night. While the U.K. is working to modify its protections against spiking, it's still a major issue I've heard about from my U.K. peers. 

Vape machines are everywhere, and it's concerning

The most wild contraption I've seen in the U.K. so far is the presence of vape machines in most bars and clubs. As someone who doesn't partake in vaping, it's interesting to watch people use the vending machine-style vape dispenser. All you have to do is put your credit card information in and pick from an array of options, and the vape is delivered to you in seconds.

While it's very common to see vape stores in the U.S., you would never run into one in Athens. The vapes also come in smaller sizes and are cheaper than a standard one. ELFBAR is the brand you'll see the most for these machines, and mini ELFBARs start at £4.99 or $6.29.

Student bars exist on campus

Another strange difference is that some U.K. universities have student bars on campus. Swansea University has a student bar in its student center called JCs, which has cheap, affordable drinks most nights of the week. It also hosts karaoke, football and soccer watch parties and trivia nights. 

The university also recently reopened its nightclub, called Tooters, which is available for students to attend on the weekends. You can buy tickets in advance to skip the line, with tickets starting at £4 or $5.04. 


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