On your way to Madrid soon? If so, one of the first things you’ll notice that is different from the United States is the amount of time people don’t spend in their homes. Whether they are socializing or merely getting from A to B, Spaniards live much of their lives in the street. The result of this is a dynamic, café society by day, and after dark, vibrant, exciting nightlife. Once in town, you’re undoubtedly looking forward to enjoying this aspect of the culture, but how’s your Spanish? Have you got a hold on the social lingo you’ll need or do you know just enough to get by? Today we’re going to talk about 5 Spanish expressions for going out in Madrid, some social expressions necessary for making the most of a night out on the town in the city.

Nightlife in Madrid


1. Lets have a toast!

Before heading out to a dance club or anywhere of the sort, it’s customary to have some beverages and tapas to get the evening started off. After a long week, or maybe just a long day, there’s no better feeling than when the waiter sets that first round of cold drinks on the table for all to enjoy. An occasion like this often merits a toast of some sort, a moment for which you need to be ready linguistically. A typical phrase used to have an informal toast is: ¡Paarriba, pabajo, pal centro, padentro! Literally this means “Up, down, to the center, inside” and is accompanied by the gesture of moving your glass in that fashion. Other times a less elaborate toast is in order, people merely saying salud, or “[to our] health”, or other times the Italian phrase Cin cin.


2. Hit the streets

After enjoying some tapas and what not, it’s time to take the night to the next level and head to a bar or nightclub. The center of Madrid — which is most likely the area you’ll first go out in as a new arrival — is full of people in the street whose job it is to convince you to go to the establishment they work for. Part of the sales pitch usually includes a free chupito, or shot, and some type of drink specials inside. Occasionally you’ll have the opportunity to strike a deal, but you’ll have a better time doing so in Spanish. As always when negotiating, it’s better for the other party to make the first offer. Start by asking ¿Qué nos ofreces? and see what they say. Chances are they’ll allow the ladies in the group to get in free (entrada libre) and perhaps dos por diez, or dos por doce, meaning two drinks for ten or twelve euros for the gentlemen. Later in the evening everyone generally pays at the door with cover charges ranging from ten euros and up, but usually including a drink (con una consumición incluida).


3. Get talking

Once inside a nightspot, you may very well find yourself chatting to someone inside. Despite being very social, however, Spaniards are not as keen on talking to ‘strangers’ in bars and nightclubs as Americans, but when they do it’s usually not just to shoot the breeze. During conversation, for some odd reason people often like to ask you your age. Hesitant to respond? The best thing to do then is have them guess, which you can invite them to do by saying ¿Cuántos me echas? That way you can avoid surprising anyone unnecessarily, because after all, age is just a number, right?


4. Stay in touch

If in the end you manage to meet anyone interesting while out and about, be it for personal or professional reasons, you’re obviously going to want to be able to contact them in the future. Once upon a time, people used to actually call each other on the phone, but in our modern world, people seem to prefer messages over actually speaking. Of course Spain is no different, but perhaps the method of communication is. In contrast to the United States, the most common messaging application is WhatsApp. As a result, people often ask ¿TienesWhatsApp? to ask for someone’s phone number. Another common occurrence is to ask people for their Facebook, as well, which is perhaps a bit more reserved.


5. Heading home

As they say, ‘All good things must come to an end’, so sooner or later it’s going to be time to call it a night. This is the time when hopefully you don’t live too far away and the trip home isn’t excessively long. With a bit of luck, someone in the group you’ve been out with is heading the same way you are, in which case you won’t have to ride the night bus or take a taxi by yourself. To find out where everyone’s going you can ask ¿Para dónde tiras?, which is a very informal way to ask, “Which way are you heading?”. That way you can suss out who’s going where and maybe get some company.


Have Spanish, will travel

Certainly while you’re here in Madrid you’ll want to get your language skills together. Of course you can study anywhere in the world, but learning in situ is obviously the best option. If you’re still sitting on the fence, why not take the plunge and head to Madrid for a time. That way, not only will your verb conjugations be correct, but you’ll have all the language you need for social situations, something which you won’t learn stateside!