Off the Grid: 24 Hours in Dublin with the Wild Bunch
Deny it all you want, but deep in the heart of every young man lives a desire to make next Friday night better than the last. This is what propelled my four roommates and I to take a 24-hour trip off the grid. The itinerary was simple: fly to Dublin, forgo a hotel, get bombed, and come home — no luggage to burden us, and no phones with cameras to incriminate us. Simple enough, right? Let me back up.
Last semester while studying abroad, I was placed in an international dorm with four other dudes from non-English-speaking countries, an alcohol-infused, sex-starved gang of misfits that I affectionately deemed, “The Wild Bunch.” (I once heard Pekinpah’s film summarized as “crude men attempting to survive by any available means.”) There was Alexi, an aspiring actor who ate more candy than a Russian Bear; Takeo, a Tokyo native on a fashion scholarship; Bruno, a German tour guide who spoke terrible English with conviction; Jeon Seok, a Korean drummer who drank himself silly every Saturday and then spent all Sunday at church; and me, an average student with an undeclared major from an average university.
As soon as we arrived in Dublin we were already several drinks deep from the flight. And if it wasn’t clear before we left, it was clear now: All of our conversations about sightseeing and absorbing the culture were nothing more than justification for five dudes to spend 24 hours getting shit-faced in the city that set the global standard for getting shit-faced. There was to be no Blarney Stone kissing or cathedral touring on this trip. We were running a booze-bath and Dublin was our basin… or more specifically, Temple Bar, the French Quarter of Ireland, was our basin. And since I was the only one who could navigate the Irish accent, I became our de facto leader.
Our first stop was The Quays, the sort of rowdy place that tourists love and locals hate. Like most epic benders, the first half of our night started off with a bang. Bruno made out with two chicks at the same time, Alexi scored coke from a local dealer, I won a beer-chugging contest, and Jeon Seok got on stage with the band. It was everything we could have hoped for, until the night took a turn for the worse.
By 10 o’clock we were insanely fucked up. Alexi was shoveling booger-sugar up our noses and we were ordering more drinks than we could handle. And then we lost Takeo. He had never done coke and his English sucked, so losing him without a phone was seriously fucked. Jeon Seok and Bruno stayed at The Quay and Alexi and I headed off to find Takeo. Our plan was to rendezvous at the neighborhood landmark and namesake, “The Temple Bar, “ in one hour and continue destroying our livers. At least that was MY plan, but unfortunately along with this level of intoxication came a new addition to our already towering language barrier.
Two hours later, I found myself waiting alone at The Temple Bar. Somehow, I had managed to lose the entire Wild Bunch. How exactly this happened is still a mystery to me; perhaps “wait here” means “get the fuck out of here” in German, Russian, and Korean. Who knows? All I knew was that I had to make a choice: keep waiting at the rendezvous or play drunken detective and find my lost roommates before we miss our 6 a.m. flight.
So, I set off in search of places that would attract degenerates. My first stop was The PantiBar. The neon sign boasted a bottle of alcohol fucking another bottle of alcohol doggy-style. It was perfect. I passed through the ominous green door and I found Takeo chatting with some dude. Then I saw him kiss that dude. This was a gay bar and my bunkmate was gay. Didn’t see that coming. Perhaps it was the cocaine in his blood, but he went from in the closet to center stage faster than I’ve ever seen.
My next stop was the local drunk tank where we found Alexi. Apparently he likes to throw things when he gets fucked up, and he was arrested for tossing a chair off a patio and hitting a parked car. The question was, had they found the coke? Fortunately, they had not. But what I did next surprised even me. Sure, I was drunk and making bad decisions, but I was their leader and it was my duty to get The Wild Bunch home safely. So, I bribed the officer with a paltry 100 euros (roughly $130). And let me say, THERE IS NOTHING MORE NERVE-RACKING THAN BRIBING A COP. Watching him debate the money for a full 10 seconds felt like a honey badger was climbing up my throat after taking a five-alarm burrito shit in my stomach. But it worked! They released Alexi on one condition: never come back to Dublin.
Now it was 1:30, just an hour before the bars close and we were still missing two-fifths of the group. We went to all the places we’d been to, until we ran into the band from The Quay. They told us they saw our friends go off with two hookers — Bruno’s tonsil-hockey partners from earlier in the night. Then they pointed us in the direction of the shittiest hotel in town. When we arrived, we walked the halls until we heard a German accent making nasty pillow talk. It was Bruno. The door was unlocked, and Alexi wanted to surprise them by bum-rushing the bed. But the surprise was on us. When the lights went on, we saw all four of them in bed together without any blankets like some fucked-up outtake from “The Human Centipede.” It’s an image of groping and penetration that I will NEVER forget no matter how hard I try or how many bong rips I take.
We barely made our flight home the following morning, and for the remainder of my stay abroad, no one really talked about the events of that night. But one week later, when Friday came back around, we were once again ready to make this Friday night even better than the last. All we had really done was upped the ante.