I know this is a blog for university and I really shouldn't be giving out "how to party tips" but it's not really like that. To people in Madrid it's actually a very social thing and really makes up a large part of their city, culture, and economy. I had a short two and a half week Spanish class to improve my Spanish before I started school since all of my classes are in Spanish, and one of the first things my teacher taught the class was the culture of the nightlife and how time is different here. It actually was very helpful, I just wish I knew it earlier.
Step one: Start everything later; do everything different from before. You have to remember that the scheduled that the locals are on can be very different from yours. All of the times the people do things are very different from what I was used to in the United States. The first time I went out with my German friend we arrived at the bar at around 11 or 12pm. There was literary three other people in there. We thought- wow we must have pick the wrong place. We left and went to a few different place; all of which were vacant. We thought we must have picked the wrong night, but by around 2am the streets were packed. Every bar, club, discotheque all packed. The next day I was telling someone from Madrid that I met about this and they couldn't believe how early we went out.
When we were in the first bar at 12pm, the local people were still finishing up dinner or tapas and drinks. We didn't know this then but all of the people do everything so much later, and for this the hours of a lot of stores and shops are very different from what I was used to. The people usually don't head to the bars or clubs until 2-3am, but stay out till 6-7am or even later! The metro closes pretty early at about 1:30 and doesn't open back up till 6am -I think this maybe one reason people stay up so late; so you don't have to take a taxi home. I know that is one reason for me. I live with three Spanish people and I was talking to them about this and my roommate, Maria, told me her and her friends stay up that late enough para desayunar "to eat breakfast". That has now become a reoccurring theme with me and my friends now as well. I remember the first time I talked on the phone with my parents and told them the times I was getting home they thought I was crazy, but in reality I was just assimilating.
It's not just the times of the bars that are different here. It's just about everything. I literally had to make a time scheduled in my notes because certain types of shops have very different hours from the United States. For example, I went to go by my bus and metro pass in Atocha (a very nice, large Barrio in Madrid) I thought I had everything I needed to get my bus pass: my ID, the forms all filled out, a passport photo, and money. Once I got there I was ready to get my pass but I was missing a copy of my passport. So, I traveled back to my flat which is about 20minutes each way. By the time I returned to the station it was closed! And it was only 2pm! I must have went to that shop three or four times that week until I learned that, like a lot of shops in Madrid, opens in the morning, closes for a few hours between 14:00 to 15:00 and then reopen for the night until about 22:00. Lot's of stores are like this, but so far I haven't found system that is consistent.
One person I met from Madrid, Enrique, told me that this city parties "domigo a domigo y lunes a lunes" Sunday to Sunday and Monday to Monday. So yes I think this really is "the city the never sleeps". I even looked it up on line to see how it compares to New York City. According to NDJWorld, New York City is ranked 32nd. Cairo, Egypt was ranked number one, and Madrid was ranked 6th. However, Spain was ranked the country that never sleeps because it has six cities in the top ten cities that never sleep. (NDJWorld 2011)
Another man also agrees with me. His name is Ernest Hemingway and he said "To go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer. For a long time your friends will be a little uncomfortable about it. Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night. Appointments with a friend are habitually made for after midnight at the cafe". This is a short quote taken from Hemmingway´s book “Death in the Afternoon” about Spanish bullfighting. This book was published in 1932 and this quote still holds to be very true.