When I was twenty-one I had the opportunity to spend a year studying at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. No surprise, it was surreal to get a chance to live in Europe at that age. New information and different perspectives would continuously be revealed, and it turned out to be nine months of unlearning everything I knew. I felt lucky to get a chance to explore this relatively unknown country.
And I mean unknown in the sense that when telling my friends that I was going to spend a year in Slovenia, most of the responses I received were along the lines of:“You’re going to Russia?!” “Is there a war going on there right now?” “Will you be staying in Bratislava?”
That said, Ljubljana was a fantastic place to live. The city itself is not too large, the people are great, the women are beautiful, the beer is cheap, and it is filled with fantastically unique atmospheres that I would not have seen otherwise. It is a student town, and as such there is a decent nightlife.
If you ask any student in Ljubljana, there are no three letters that will simultaneously elicit more laughter, outrageous stories, or straight-up shame than: K-M-Š.
KMŠ is a club in the south side of Ljubljana. It’s the kind of place that most students went to when they should’ve just gone home. The rest of the place was filled out with dodgy locals and the oddly mustached. When a party, wherever it may be, ran out of drinks and it was nearing 2 in the AM, someone would inevitably yell out “KMŠ!!!” Those who were ready to go home would wisely call it a night. Those who had no idea where they were usually went to KMŠ.
This is not to say that one could not have fun at KMŠ sober. I’ve just never heard of it happening. KMŠ is the kind of place that is amazing when you’re quite drunk, and conversely, it’s incredibly annoying when you’re sober. The music sucks, everyone else is completely corked, and the place is a total dump.
But! When you’ve been imbibing all night, things are different. You hear songs you haven’t heard in forever, everyone around you just wants to party, and when your drink is done, you simply smash the bottle on the ground and carry on.
In describing KMŠ to others I’ve often used the parallel of The Wall. Allow me to elaborate on this point: I once thought that The Wall was one of the greatest movies I’d ever seen. However, it is important to note that the first few times I watched the movie I was stoned. Very stoned. Now, when one is high, The Wall is amazing. But, after dropping in on some friends watching the film one evening, and I learned that watching The Wall sans the electric lettuce…sucks. The music is still phenomenal – don’t get me wrong – but the film itself is shit. This is especially apparent if you’ve seen it previously and thought that it was the greatest thing to happen to high school sessions since 7-11.
In a nutshell, this is how I would describe KMŠ. It’s phenomenal when you’re exceptionally drunk. Otherwise, it’s watching The Wall sober.
The memories I have of the nights that I’ve spent at KMŠ are hazy at best. And by no means consider this to be a lament of KMŠ. The place will almost always yield an amazing time.
The cover was 50 cents. Naturally, this was to keep the riff-raff out. A half-litre of Beck’s was 2 Euros. You couldn’t go wrong. The music was always terrible, but terrible to such an extent that it almost returned to tolerable, albeit through irony. Think of the kind of music that would be played if the DJ were a guy from Saudi Arabia whose only exposure to Western culture was through American movies and sitcoms, and add to that a dash of Serbian stereotype. But when you’re pissed, none of this matters. You simply buy another Beck’s.
Another great thing about KMŠ was that it didn’t close until 5AM. Usually by five, you’ve had enough, no matter how hearty you can party. The lights come on – a very sobering experience mind you – and they kick you out.
One thing I absolutely loved about Slovenia is that, in contrast to North America, you’re allowed to leave the bar with your drink once the place has closed. So, when closing time arrives, everybody grabs one more beer and heads out to the patio to have a couple of cigarettes and just lounge, chat, stumble, sing, or sloppily make-out by the bushes.
By far, the most satisfying things about the whole experience is taking the bus back from KMŠ (unless of course you’ve been making out by the bushes) because by the time anyone bothers to go home, it is around 6 AM and the bus is filled with folks heading off to work.
Taking that early morning ride home, after an epic evening of fiesta personified, and surrounded by those heading into their early-morning jobs, can’t help but make you feel as though you’re making the most of your youth, perceived invincibility, and time in Europe.
And although KMŠ can, and does, yield some of the most shameful and embarrassing moments of that same youth, it is unrivaled fun for anyone who has ever stepped into the front door and been poured out several hours later.