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IV's Survival Guide: Place Lux

A tongue-in-cheek guide to the weekly rite of passage for Brussels interns and trainees: Thursday evenings at Place du Luxembourg. Stereotypes to look out for, who to avoid, and how to get out alive without rinsing your bank account and still in a state to survive Friday morning.

 For the locals, this square next to the European Parliament is still Place Luxembourg. A few overpriced bars, a statue, occasional demonstrations and a gaping void on weekends, nothing special. But for interns it’s Plux: a pivotal component of survival in Brussels.

Some might find it difficult to adapt to this jungle of interns, with its peculiar wildlife, but you need not worry. Internal Voices will be your guide to this strange weekly phenomenon in the heart of the heart of Europe.

Paid and unpaid interns alike join together for the happy hour from 6-7pm. You can see the panic start to spread as it gets closer to 7 o’clock, reaching its peak when the hoarders begin shuffling into a queue at five minutes to seven. They are all stomping their feet, pushing and shoving to buy the four beers for the price of two that they so desperately need to get through the night. It’s a cut-throat world, especially in the last two minutes before seven. Our recommendation is to start slow, don’t fight the fiercest at 18:58, but the more easy prey in line at 18:45.   

How to get drunk in an economical way?
It’s a question as old as the pint; how do you maximize your intake of alcohol while at the same time spending an absolute minimum of your paycheck (haha, paycheck... good one!)?
Simple: don’t eat, take full advantage of the happy hour, and buy several beers before the bar closes at seven.

How to make a good impression?
We have been around for a while; trust us. If you wish to make a good impression, eat something. You are going to regret not scoffing down that calzone from Exki when your head is throbbing at work tomorrow and you remember how you accidentally assaulted that MEP last night. The beers are only about two euros, you don’t need to fill the entire table surface with them, the two you are already holding in your hands will do just fine. Another thing: Never dance on tables. And no, it’s never a good idea to pole dance on a tent pole.

Stereotypes

Although each Thursday and Plux is different, there are some stereotypes you can’t miss.

The hobo:
This guy, looking like the cross-breed of a lumberjack and a raccoon, blends into the environment. You’ll most likely find him sipping beer in a corner. He’ll be wearing a pair of worn out jeans and a beanie. You won’t be able to stop wondering if he’s an actual hobo or simply an intern with the UN trying to nail the Berlin hipster look. If your curiosity gets the best of you, ask him about the post-2015 development agenda. If he knows what you’re talking about, he’s most likely an intern.

Out of our league:
This girl is stunning, speaks five languages, has two masters and a ton of work experience. We have no idea what she is doing here with the rest of us plain mortals, and we’re too in awe to ask. Let’s face it: she is probably from Sweden where all drop-dead bombshells have their habitat. Even the sleaziest of sleazebags will be smart enough to stay away.

The MEP:
This rare specimen, albeit not impossible to spot, is a king amongst men, a giraffe amongst zebras, a lion on top of the hill - in his own opinion. Clinging loosely to a table with a beer, he will charm and lure you in with talk about directives and reforms, until he draws his sermon to a close with the remark ”Let’s finish this and go somewhere to snog, shall we?”.  Many young and inexperienced souls have fallen prey to his charms, but stay strong and fear not; you will prevail.

The drunk girl:
Playing on sexist stereotypes, there she is in all her glamour. We have all been there, yours truly several times. The drunk girl forgot to eat before sitting down, and is now too happy and unaware to notice how the alcohol is blurring her vision and making her laugh louder and louder with each sip. She is taking full advantage of the happy hour and recently used her skewed logic and declining mathematical abilities to buy four more beers before it ends - just in case. Tomorrow is a day far from memory, and will be spent hiding behind a glaring computer screen.

The serious one:
Looking like a deer caught in headlights, he glances nervously over at the drunk girl - whose laughter has now reached a pitch that can only be heard by dogs - and the MEP who finally found someone to snog. With his tie firmly in place, he slowly sips his single beer, which he bought five minutes before happy hour so that it would not be economically sensible to buy two. With plans to only stay for happy hour, he packs up his things as the clock strikes seven. Afterwards he goes for a run or finishes up on work for the next morning. We watch them from a distance and have yet to converse with one. To be quite honest we don’t run in their circles and are not sure where they hibernate after work hours.

How to get home
On a more serious note: Brussels was recently called the most dangerous city in Europe (source: streettalk on the corner of Gare du Midi) . If you have a long way to walk home, don’t! Split a taxi with friends, not that random guy that you met five minutes ago (this is an advice relevant to all genders alike).

A night-time snack can be a great way of ending the evening, and preparing for the horrible morning you’re about to have in five hours. Our only recommendation is:

Place Jourdain

The double fried frites will be the subject of a special report on Belgian fries in a later edition. Just one thing: Ask for the tartar sauce and let your mind be blown. If you haven’t tried these bad boys you haven’t tried fries at all.

Antti and Lina are both interns at UNRIC (UN Regional Information Centre) and frequently found at Plux on Thursdays.

 

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