Some man/woman hybrid thing who looked like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dressed in drag asked me if I wanted ‘sex’ as I walked past the train station in Bucharest.
That there folks, is how I was welcomed into the “The Paris of the East”, or more properly Bucharest, Romania.
Btw, I Speedy Gonzalez’d past The Rock’s ugly cousin and straight to my hostel I booked called Friend’s Hostel. A girl, who appeared to be in her very early 20’s, checked me in and gave me the scoop on the hostel and said if I had any questions, then to let her know. I had lots of questions particularly because I came into Romania with next to no prior knowledge of the country and mostly because I wanted to hear her voice. She had a captivating ‘Dracula’ accent that made her sound like a character straight out of a Transylvanian horror flick. I didn’t think I’d be so enthralled.
Here I was–officially in Europe! Continent number four of my Quest to the Seven Continents and country number ten of this trip, Romania. Out of all the countries I’ve been to so far, I knew the least about Romania. With that, I went against my usual mode of exploration and opted for a free walking tour offered from my hostel, to acquaint myself with Bucharest and a little bit of its history.
Back at the hostel, as I was lounging in the upstairs area, I met a backpacker by the name of Jasper (Poland), who was strumming away at a guitar by his lonesome. Jasper spoke English, but very slowly, so listening to him required all of my attention. He mentioned that later in the evening he wanted to go into the city to find food and explore. I decided to tag along. It would be good to see what Bucharest was like during the night shift.
We took a a cheap subway towards the city and popped up into the ‘happenin’ area of the city called the Old Town. This area was lined up with bars, clubs, cafe’s, and lots of neat restaurants in between. It actually reminded me of Amsterdam, sans canals.
We ate a delicious meal at a vegetarian restaurant he suggested and afterwards we met up a few of his friends for a few beers nearby. They were neat people and I was content on just enjoying the rest of the night there, but Jasper had hardy plans to visit an “electronic concert” somewhere in the city. He just wasn’t sure exactly where it was.
Jasper told me he loves music of all varieties and studies it back home. He saw on an online ad that there was an electronic music concert somewhere in the Old Town that he was interested in attending that began at midnight.
“Are you sure it’s a concert?” I asked him. From the way he was describing it, it sounded like a club that just played electronic music; not so much as a ‘concert’.
He wasn’t sure. I was marginally interested to see what it was and so I went with him. Why? I don’t know, I had nothing better to do. Electronic music is not really my thing but then again I was invited to an electronic music festival in Mexico a while ago and had a ton of fun. It was mainly the beer though.
He navigated on Google Maps and I followed him about the streets at night. We went around in a circle before we found a giant warehouse that was converted into a bar/club kinda deal. It actually looked pretty decent inside. We paid an entrance fee which was also a ticket for the live show. It was well past midnight, but we found that the show hadn’t started yet.
I’d say the size of the show room was comparable to the inside of a 7-Eleven; so not too big. The stage was set for a more intimate experience. When we first arrived, the floor was practically empty as a DJ played tunes that sounded like nothing I’ve heard before–a random mix of sound bytes against a repetitive monotone beat. Jasper and I got a beer from the bar and sat in one of the booths near the back wall. Conversation was almost nonexistent because the music was too loud. Jasper did express his excitement for the main event, which should have started by now.
1:30am came and went. 2am was long gone. It was nearly 3am. How late do places like these stay open for? Gradually, the floor started to fill with a crowd and so Jasper and I made our way to the front. The show was finally about to begin. At this point, it was so late, I just wanted my bed.
The room suddenly turned red. A smoke machine filled the air with fog. Two girls who looked like hipster teenagers walked onto the stage to the DJ mixer/turntable and began pressing buttons and adjusting tabs and switches. Then things just got weird from there.
A simple, yet eerie sounding beat began to play, loud as heck. People began to bob their heads as if they were in a trance. Jasper disappeared into the middle of the crowd. The music began to blend into a more sinister rhythm. The red lights of the room intensified. I looked over to Jasper who was dancing around as if he were possessed by a ghost. As for myself, I really did try to enjoy it. I even had a couple more drinks but that didn’t help. This wasn’t any kind of music I’ve ever heard.
I stood near the wall by myself while everyone else seemed to enjoy it. I’m pretty open to most genres of music but this particular genre sounded like the DJ’s were trying to summon a hipster demon and we were all about to be its sacrifice. THIS is the concert people paid to come to? This was definitely not my cup of tea. I needed to get out of there.
Jasper was in a complete trance when I went up to him. “I’m gonna get out of here,” I said to him. “I’m falling asleep!” Thankfully, he agreed to come as well. If he wanted to stay, then I would have no problem leaving him behind.
I returned to the hostel and spoke to the girl who spoke like Dracula. She informed me that the who lore of Vlad the Impaler, more famously known as Dracula, is in a town called Brasov.
That’s where I’ll go! Bucharest was cool. The people were friendly, but that demon summoning, electro concert thing was a little much. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to Jasper; he disappeared without a trace.
Perhaps he was taken by one of those demons.