Why do people "go out" so late?
July 3, 2012 8:23 PM   Subscribe

People in your 20's who like to go out REALLY late: Can you please explain to me the appeal of going out so late?

For cultural context, I live in the US and am mid-20's in a major city. The scenario is going out to bars or parties on the weekend. I'm not talking about staying out late, but wondering why people LEAVE so late?

Ideally on a Friday or Saturday night I would leave the house to meet with friends sometime between 7 and 9pm, eating dinner sometime between 6 and 9 - maybe "dinner" and "going out with friends" could even overlap!

However, this ideal is drastically different from pretty much everyone my age who I know who regularly engages in weekend-night-socializing. They seem to prefer leaving between 10pm and 12pm - usually closer to the latter. When making plans, I'll ask what time we should meet and it never ceases to shock me when they respond "oh, probably 10 or 11." Of course, when 11 rolls around and I've been fidgeting with boredom at home for like 5 hours since getting off work, I'll hear that they're actually leaving in ANOTHER half hour. Now it's 11:30 and they've finally confirmed they are ready to go.

What the hell, dude(s)! By the time you get there last call is in 2 hours! I legitimately do not understand this phenomenon. Do people just procrastinate leaving their house? Is it girls in the group who take a long time to get ready? Is it just plain "uncool" to go out before 10? Is starting the night at 9 considered "starting early"? I get that in some cities in Europe and South America people don't go out till midnight or even 1 or 2am, but from what I understand there is a nap involved somewhere during the day, and apparently last call is like, Never.

I'm not asking for advice on how to deal with this or how to find new friends and blah blah blah. I'm just genuinely curious as to what the thought process is here? Especially interested in mefites who "go out" often and actually engage in this ritual every weekend. Especially if you've ever been the plan-maker who actually said "we'll leave at 11pm" - when people like me suggest leaving at 8 or 9 do I sound like an elderly person?
posted by windbox to Human Relations (71 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
1) Getting intoxicated before you go out is cheaper. Much, much cheaper.
2) When you go out later, you are more likely to find people who want to kiss on you.
3) See 1 + 2.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:24 PM on July 3, 2012 [19 favorites]

Rock stars are always late to the party.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:27 PM on July 3, 2012

If you're a nightclub type, nothing much of interest is happening until AT LEAST 10:30. Or that was the case when I worked in clubs, anyway.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:28 PM on July 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

I remember this from my younger and broker days, when going out to dinner before hitting the bars was not a leisurely affair in a fine dining establishment but a couple of tacos at a stand on 6th street, because if we spent $50 on dinner we wouldn't be able to drink. Also, if we were going to see a band that started at midnight, there wasn't much point to heading out too early.

I don't really do this anymore, but judging by traffic patterns in the bars I hang out with, lots and lots of people do. 11pm is the earliest a dance club starts to fill up.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:29 PM on July 3, 2012

1. A lot of people don't get home until late. Especially if you work retail. Your 5 hours of waiting is probably the exception rather than the norm.

2. Shower and get ready - 1-2 hours for many people, easily breaking into 3 hours if there is something special happening.

3. Dinner is typically before you go out, so add some time for that. Some R&R, maybe an episode of TV or whatever.

4. Why go early? You've got ALL NIGHT. rather than spend 8 hours on the town, why not spend 5 hours on the town and have a leisurely 3 beforehand?
posted by -harlequin- at 8:30 PM on July 3, 2012

I'm in NYC (where last call is 4 AM) and don't really go out that late anymore, but when I did, I'd go to nightclubs that were completely empty until at least 11 PM. And holy shit is an empty nightclub the most boring place on earth, drunk or sober.
posted by griphus at 8:30 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, this is A Thing (primarily in cities, maybe?). My observance is that it's based on a couple of things: (1) It's cheaper to pre-game at home, (2) getting to a bar/club at 7-9 is sort of lame because no one else is there yet - it's "dead", (3) they don't really want to be out for more than a couple hours anyway, and it's more fun to be out at a club/bar when it's busy (ie, from 12-2) than when it's dead (ie, from 9-11). So there's sort of a feedback loop where people go out late because bars are dead because people go out late.
posted by muddgirl at 8:31 PM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

5-10 years ago when i did my 20s partying, "beer o'clock" was 10-10:30pm. you'd get ready and listen to music and get a little messed up and then head out. the only reason to go earlier is if there was a great drink special that ended at 10 or if it was an alcoholiday where we'd start drinking around 11am.
posted by nadawi at 8:32 PM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

oh, and this was in texas, not in a big city, but a college town that serves as a suburb to a big city.
posted by nadawi at 8:34 PM on July 3, 2012

From a functional perspective, the club scene doesn't start happening until 10 at the earliest, because until at least nine, those areas are catering to the dinner-on-the-way-home-from-work-crowds crowd, and the Friday-evening beers-with-coworkers-before-home crowd.

A lot of clubs are actually restaurants during the day.

And I imagine noise ordinance plays a role too.

And it just doesn't work to be dressed to the nines in a slinky thing for the night on the town, in a place full of people still in rumpled workclothes who are relaxing and winding down, not building up.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:38 PM on July 3, 2012

Some people just don't like being around other people all the time and would rather spend a few hours reading the internet, doing chores, cooking, watching TV, etc. in between work and going out. Plus getting clean and dressed up can take a while.
posted by scose at 8:41 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Another big one - a lot of people go to the gym after work. Then a shower is mandatory and a meal is often desired.
posted by scose at 8:43 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Girls. As mentioned above, they can easily take a few hours to "get ready." No one knows what this means, but obviously girls are the main draw for "going out."

Scenario: girl gets home at 6 from day stuff, spends an hour or so settling in/eating, spends 2 hours "getting ready," then spends two hours pregaming. That's 11
posted by Patbon at 8:43 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was in my 20s I worked in a retail establishment that closed at frickin 11pm. So home, food, shower, get dressed at the bare minimum would put me ready to leave home no sooner than 12:30 and that was if I really rushed through everything. Restaurants, shops, service industries in general tend to stay open later, especially in cities. If you had the next day off or were on the later shifts already, you could stay out until closing and sleep in the nest day. At least, that's how it worked for me.

Plus clubs are pretty much empty until midnight. The DJs won't play any of the good stuff before 1am.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:44 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd say that all of the above reasons apply, but this pattern also is likely a carry-over from college, where, at least in my experience, people tended to go out to party in the 10pm-midnight range as well. Pre-gaming was a factor there, but it also just takes a while to text everyone and manage to get everyone to agree on a meeting place/time. For the girls, getting dressed and done up took a while as well. I would imagine carrying that experience over into 20-somethinghood is another reason for this pattern.
posted by zachlipton at 8:45 PM on July 3, 2012

Yeah, I've always thought this was silly as well. But it feels even sillier to go somewhere at 9 and be one of three people in the place.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:47 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

in my groups, some of the boys could take just as long, if not longer, to get ready.
posted by nadawi at 8:47 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Bars are pretty boring early on, honestly. Yeah, if you're going to a quiet bar to have a few beers, then whenever is fine, but if you're going to drink/dance/meet people, it doesn't really ramp up until late.

Even now, when I'm not really in my bar-crawling prime, I get home around 5:30 at the earliest, then I want to go to the gym, which is another 1-2 hours, so now it's 7:30ish, maybe later if I needed to run some errands on the way. Then get home, shower and make myself presentable, get dressed, that's another hour or so. Then I want to have a nice, big dinner to soak up the booze I'm going to drink--and Real Food at a decent place, not like McDonalds, something good and solid that'll last--so add that in, and add more time if I'm going with friends and we're sitting around bullshitting. Which puts me rolling into the bar close to 10.

Besides, the party don't start til I walk in.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:48 PM on July 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

Plus getting clean and dressed up can take a while.

As someone who has always been able to shower and dress in five minutes or less, it took me a while to catch on that most people really do need incredible amounts of time before they are clean, dressed, and fully primped.
posted by Forktine at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Schedule, particularly as it works in DC, where you seem to live:

5pm-8pm: Happy Hour
7pm-10pm: Dinner with close friends/SOs/dates.
10pm on: "Going out" with your larger group of friends. Parties never really get going until at least this time, anyway. At this point, even if last call is at 2, do you really want to spend more than 3 hours at a bar/club? In any case, there might be a party at someone's house/apartment that is running later.
posted by deanc at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

But it feels even sillier to go somewhere at 9 and be one of three people in the place.

But see, I wouldn't be bringing this up if I haven't been to tons of bars where there ARE people in the place at 9 or 10pm. And it's crowded - not jam packed grinding-dancing crowded, but definitely loud and full of socially lubricated people?

If we're making plans on Friday and I say "great, meet me at McClarens at 9 o clock" are you on the other line thinking "ughhh NINE? What is this the fuckin' early bird special??" In other words, do I sound like a loser?
posted by windbox at 8:52 PM on July 3, 2012

In NYC I usually don't go out until 12-1am or so. I will take a nap first because otherwise I become a fractious toddler waving my drink angrily at the bar.

Sometimes I will only go out at 330 or so to catch the start of an afterhours.

Bullshit on that ridiculous "oooh, girls take soooo long to get ready" trope. Most girls I know are ready to go before our guy friends are done picking their noses in front of the mirror.
posted by elizardbits at 8:53 PM on July 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

Also, is last call really at 1am most places? I moved from a town/state where bars have no legally mandated closing time (which means they generally close at 4 or so when everyone wants to go home) to a state where they legally had to close exactly at 1am and found it really weird. I assumed the early closing time was a weird quirk here (and was surprised to find that people still didn't go out until 11 or so.)
posted by geegollygosh at 8:54 PM on July 3, 2012

Last call is usually 2 or 3 depending where exactly you are, and if my people are leaving at 11:30 they're going to get there by midnight.
posted by windbox at 8:55 PM on July 3, 2012

5pm-8pm: Happy Hour
7pm-10pm: Dinner with close friends/SOs/dates.
10pm on: "Going out" with your larger group of friends.

With a lot of people I know, the 5-10pm slot there is (aside from the long shower mentioned above) mostly sitting on the couch playing video games with one or two friends, maybe drinking at the same time. That's not my thing, but I know what feel like gazillions of people who seem to use it as a loosening up part of the evening preparatory to actually going out.
posted by Forktine at 8:55 PM on July 3, 2012

Of course, I share your attitude about the European way of doing things, to the point where I can't stand to go out with Italians and Spaniards I meet while traveling, because while my idea of a good time is going out at 10 or 11 and getting back at 2, their idea of a good time is going out around 1 or 2 and stumbling home around 5.

If we're making plans on Friday and I say "great, meet me at McClarens at 9 o clock" are you on the other line thinking "ughhh NINE? What is this the fuckin' early bird special??" In other words, do I sound like a loser?

Not a loser, but likely my schedule can't accommodate this, because I will still be out at dinner or not even home from work/gym, yet.
posted by deanc at 8:56 PM on July 3, 2012

I would like 2-3 hours to comfortably get dressed up for a night out, and I'm a girl, so idk. If you go out with really femme girls they probably take a few hours. Don't know how long most guys take.

I think it's basically a little bit of laziness and the generally lax atmosphere surrounding most college nights out, plus that the posse can go to someone's apartment after last call. My friends and I really only wanted to be in a bar for <2 hours, so that was fine. After that meant hanging out somewhere else/drinking at home or hooking up with someone. Staying drunk in a bar for over two hours can be expensive.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:56 PM on July 3, 2012

Also, I don't know, but I just LOVE being out late. My brain works better at night in general and I feel more upbeat and ready to roll. So, maybe your friends just aren't really in the zone (after eating, cleaning up, &c.) until later in the day. I'd rather do it the European way, and wish bars were open later where I'm at. Actually I'm an outlier in my friend groups, most people want to be home and in bed between 1:00AM-3:00AM.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:59 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with above posters... when I was in my 20's, my friends and I tended to have the kind of retail/service jobs where we wouldn't get off until 9 p.m. or later.

Plus, last call wasn't the end... it was more like intermission. After last call, we'd all go to someone's apartment and keep the party going until dawn or so.

Even in my thirties, 10 is still standard.
posted by Gianna at 9:00 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two reasons that I can think of from my social group, where this is the norm. 1, if you work in a bar (which many of us do), you're going to be up til 3 or 4 in the morning on nights you work. You're not suddenly going to switch to going to bed at midnight on your off-nights. Also, if you want to go home with someone, or want a drunken after-hours house party to happen, being kicked out of a bar after last call together is a great excuse for that.
posted by quiet coyote at 9:02 PM on July 3, 2012

I used to go out late, but late meant warehouse/house parties ending at dawn or later. This song perfectly captures the feeling, I suppose it could be the feeling your friends are after too. This wasn't Europe, this was SF.

Your real answer, though, is "people vary". If you're curious why your friends do it, well, ask them.
posted by nat at 9:03 PM on July 3, 2012

Okay, this has been really informative and it's really awesome to see "the other sides" perspective on this. This is my last post, but as it stands it looks like the reasons are:

a) It sounds like a lot of people are in fact already with friends before they "go out" and the reason I'm so frustrated is because I'm sitting around at home. I live on the opposite side of town as my friends so I constantly rely on meeting them out, unless I want to "pregame" by myself which just sounds horribly depressing.

b) It looks like a lot of the "party doesn't start till 11" culture is based on a lot of people not getting off till really late. I get out off work at 5:30 and the very second I leave the building on Friday I am freaking pumped to get out and do something. I'm the guy who can go from happy hour till last call or later, but the idea of sitting around waiting for hours for the party to start is so daunting to me.

Okay done threadsitting/looking like I have the largest stick in the universe up my ass.
posted by windbox at 9:11 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

For me, it's that 8 or so is when I get home from work. (If I'm lucky. Fridays are always long days, then there's maybe an hour commute by transit.) So 8:30 is when I finish collapsing on the couch and start thinking "what shall I have for dinner?" If this involves cooking, that's another hour right there, and then there's the showering and getting dressed. Then you want to meet where? Oh, that's 45-60 minutes from here by the time I get to the train / bus stop, wait 15 minutes for it, and then ride it there. So what, are we at 11 or so by now? If you said "meet at 9," I'd think "hmm, can't get home and back, let's go out for dinner somewhere near my work."
posted by slidell at 9:16 PM on July 3, 2012

It sounds to me like you need to find a "local" - a bar near your house where you can hang out for a few hours with the rest of the after-work crowd until your friends are ready to meet up. That's pretty typical.

Or maybe work on a hobby?
posted by muddgirl at 9:18 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

the very second I leave the building on Friday I am freaking pumped to get out and do something

well in all honesty the only thing i am ever pumped for fridays after work is being home and in my pajamas by 530. fuck friday nights, i want a bath. saturday is the night for me.
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 PM on July 3, 2012 [10 favorites]

Combining your post and mine, it sounds like you need two events -- one with someone like me, who'd actually prefer to go out for a beer and some dinner (at 7:30 or 8 even) and then go home and read, and then one with the night-owl party crew.
posted by slidell at 9:20 PM on July 3, 2012 [10 favorites]

>Okay done threadsitting/looking like I have the largest stick in the universe up my ass.

I personally think you're stickless! I'm self-employed, so I can go out whenever. My better half, on the other hand, often gets off work at 12AM, and he usually doesn't manage to get ready until 1AM. I totally understand your frustration. I'm only 22, but I guess I'm also "like an elderly person" in that I'd really prefer to do something fun and be in bed at a reasonable hour.
posted by plaintiff6r at 9:28 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

this is just from memory, but the later you go out, the fewer reminders of daytime life you see and the more mysterious your environment becomes. a city at 2am is a completely different place than the same city at 2pm.
posted by facetious at 9:48 PM on July 3, 2012 [14 favorites]

Girls. As mentioned above, they can easily take a few hours to "get ready." No one knows what this means,

Metafilter has a fairly large female user base y'know.

Hair/makeup actually can be a lengthy process. Especially starting from damp hair, and then drying it, applying products and heat treating it, that can take forty-five minutes to an hour in its own right and another half hour doing makeup. A full 'face', especially if you don't always copy the exact same look, may involve many layers of product- moisturizer, primer, concealer, foundation, blush, setting powder, eye shadow in several tones that need to be blended, eyeliner, mascara, lip liner, lipstick- this is even before the current trends for false eyelashes or if you like things like glitter/bindi/goth eyeliner doodles. A group of women 'getting ready' are all managing this around a small square footage of mirror.
posted by Phalene at 9:52 PM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Everything Phalene said. It took my pals (guys and girls) ages to get ready and that's probably because we were all goths. It also takes a long time to put on certain garments; lacing up high combat boots, putting on corsets, several layers of torn fishnets etc. It still takes me at least 1-1&1/2 hours to go from shower to out if there is hair and makeup involved, and I'm only 30% goth these days.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:57 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Big city or small town doesn't make much of a difference, IME, when I hang with girls. Primping does take that much time, making it the perfect opportunity to pregame if you're the type to be ready early. Some of the best times I've had are drinking beer and cutting loose with the ladies' significant others who are ready to get the party started.

If you want to do something with your early evening, you'll have to find it. Amping up solo would be depressing for me, sounds like it's time to make friends with random appealing strangers in your potential SOCIAL pregame time and get the good vibe juices flowing.
posted by Giggilituffin at 10:03 PM on July 3, 2012

Have you considered just setting some sort of pre-outing thing up for yourself and inviting whoever? Like "Hey guys, I'm going to be at Quiet And Cozy Bar With Good Food from 8-10 before everyone gets going, come hang out with me if you want." Bring a book if no one shows up (or pick a bar with TVs or socialize and make friends with the people that came out early) and enjoy yourself and if someone shows up, even better.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:06 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

When this was more my scene it was warehouse parties too, but we did start up by nine or ten. And go past dawn. Because it wasn't bloody alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, people. Get it straight!

Everything moving to "clubs" is when it went to hell. See also: people staying home for a few hours to pre-binge drink. So sad.
posted by ead at 10:06 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

What the hell, dude(s)! By the time you get there last call is in 2 hours!

Some people may use this as a safety net - you won't get super trashed in only 2 hours. It's tougher to stop drinking when you're on a roll if the bar is still serving. "maybe just one more...."

Is it girls in the group who take a long time to get ready?

Seriously? Seriously? Why not just say "some people", because -holy crap- there are guys that take longer to get ready than women (I should hope "girls" are not going out to clubs with alcohol). Between this and "dude(s)" above, I wonder if you only want feedback from men?

...anyway, In my experience, it just is what it is. I'm a night owl and don't mind it - I'll be having more fun at 2am than at 8pm. Besides, by the time everyone's hope from work and you can get everyone's schedules together - that takes some time.

I don't go around saying, "what is up with people getting breakfasts in cafes at 5am?!" Not saying your question is wrong, I'm just saying, it could simply be what some people prefer, especially if they're night owls. They might not be able to actually pinpoint why. Even if my friends were ready to go at 5pm, I'd probably still prefer to head out late.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:09 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm old and don't go out much, so I don't think I'm who you're talking about, but...

1. I always stay up late anyway
2. I don't want to be out all night ever
3. By going out late, I can be out when my friends are, but not be out for a long time
4. I take a while to get ready (guy, FWIW)
posted by univac at 10:13 PM on July 3, 2012

Disco nap: In my day this was actually a thing.
posted by La Cieca at 10:17 PM on July 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

Personally, I need a few hours to decompress after work before I'm interested in going out. I have to Be Productive at work all day, I don't want to come home and feel like my social life is another damn job.

So, get home 6-7ish, change clothes, flop on couch and read or whatever for a little while, figure out what to make for dinner, make dinner, eat it, clean up, take care of some household stuff, take a break, and...okay, now it's at least 10 and I'm just starting to gear up to go out.

It only actually takes me 20-30 min to get ready to go out, including figuring out what to wear and washing my face and putting on makeup and getting my things together without rushing like I'm late for an appointment.
posted by desuetude at 10:17 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

My experience in Chicago has been that the bars are full of douchebags taking clients out for a beer after their marketing meeting bro from 6-9. Or people day drinking end their evening around 9 and nothing is worse then trying to get your buzz on around already tanked people.
posted by Uncle at 10:28 PM on July 3, 2012

One of the great pleasures of adulthood is that instead of just being thrown into whatever social scene based on your town you grew up in or your college or whatever, you can figure out what you actually want to do with your time and then find people who are doing that. It took me sort of a long time to figure that out-I spent some time trapped in scenes where I tried to do what other people thought was a good time that was unnecessary. I know that you sort of said that you were only interested in finding out why people do this, but it doesn't really matter-they do it because they like it for one reason or another. It seems like that isn't you, no sense in trying to figure it out. As you note, plenty of people go out earlier...you'll have a better time making friends who do that than spending one more second trying to puzzle this out.
posted by Kwine at 10:31 PM on July 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

What the hell, dude(s)! By the time you get there last call is in 2 hours!
When I was in my 20s, 12pm-2am was when you met your friends at a bar and collected intelligence on where the good after-hours parties were likely to be. Then we'd go there.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:44 PM on July 3, 2012

It sounds like a lot of people are in fact already with friends before they "go out" and the reason I'm so frustrated is because I'm sitting around at home. I live on the opposite side of town as my friends so I constantly rely on meeting them out, unless I want to "pregame" by myself which just sounds horribly depressing.

If you don't have a roommate, then you probably are something of an outlier among the twenty-something demographic. (I know that I had to change up my social life once I could afford to rent my own place.)

Do you have a different set of friends you could spend the between-time with? If I know I'll be meeting up later with friends who'll have been pre-gaming somewhere I can't get to, then I'll make a point of going out for drinks after work with a colleague.

Also, have you mentioned this issue to your friends? When I was in my early twenties the group of us who lived together used to be joined by the girl who lived the next town over early on. She'd bring a backpack with her clothes and make-up then get ready at our place. Sometimes she'd come back to ours, sometimes she'd leave the backpack in the club's cloakroom so she could go straight home after. There were a couple other friends who did the same thing less frequently. Maybe you and your friends could do something similar?
posted by the latin mouse at 11:09 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do these friends have 9-5 jobs, or do they start work later in the day? (Or are they still in college?)

When I was in college, I was awake for the exact same number of hours that I am now, but everything was shifted later in the day. I would wake up at noon. My classes and work shifts were in the afternoons and evenings, sometimes going until 9 pm or after. Then, you get home, eat, change. By that point, 11pm or midnight is the perfect and natural time to go out. 4 or 5am is the natural time to go to sleep. When all of your friends are on similar schedules, you all get in the same habits and it is normal for you.

These days the thought of being out at 11pm is miserable. But that's only because my whole schedule now begins hours earlier in the day. If your friends have to be at work at 9am every day though, this makes a lot less sense to me.
posted by cairdeas at 11:41 PM on July 3, 2012

Hey I totally hear you and I couldn't understand it when I moved to NYC too. I finish work and am home by 4:30 so for me it was even more obvious! And going out super late on weekends would kill schedule since I would be leaving house at 6:30 am on weekdays and the sleeping schedule had to be sort of engrained to make it less painful.

I never really found a solution. First, I just went out after work on Fridays with coworkers who were friends on the same schedule but we would all end up going home to pass out by 11.

Then I tried to hang out with Manhattanites later but you're right about the pre-gaming thing. If you're not having drinks with a couple friends or roommates first then it is boring and annoying waiting to meet up.

Also I take 45 min max to get ready so that's also depressing to think I'm a female and not doing whatever people are supposed to be doing for the other 2hrs to get ready. No wonder my dating luck is so bad.

So really I totally agree with you and get where you are coming from. The only real solution is either adapt, give up and get old (what I did) or find people with earlier schedules and just have an earlier social life (what I used to do but then I guess you miss out on the city's vibrant late night scene and see a different version).

But asking someone to meet up at 9 at McLaren's or whatever, that sounds totally normal to me..but see above. But then the bars are busy so someone is there! As with all things it's just a matter of trying to find someone whose schedule, lifestyle and interests match yours. Don't give up like me!!
posted by bquarters at 1:06 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that pretty much every response focuses on the logistical reasons people go out late.

Isn't there something that is just fundamentally feels different about being out late?

As evidence of this, you can see how inhibitions recede as it gets later and later. Situations arise which are unique to the flow of the night; also, the story of a given situation will be different if it occured from 12 - 2 rather than from 7 - 9. Stories commune with the distinct identity of the night. It might occur to you that what's going on is the closest thing to experiencing a ritual. Often a night might seem thick, or serene, the uproar of the party hitting harder because of the night's particular silence. The current in the stream of events starts to pick up, and everything that happens starts to run smoothly together. When in the process of telling the story of a night, we remember its events as if they happened more slowly, or as if imbued with a fog that makes all the light seem diffuse and open.

Some would point to alcohol as being the reason for late-at-night to yield perceptual differences, but alcohol shouldn't bear all the blame. Night changes us.

So, why do people go out so late? They desire to author the stories it yields, and to yield themselves to the flow of its particular current.
posted by victory_laser at 2:48 AM on July 4, 2012 [12 favorites]

Last call in the Boston area is between midnight and two, depending on the town. I have seen bars fill ip by 9:30 because of those. Even so, if I go out with friends I want to be able to HEAR them. My time is precious. Their time is precious. I don't want to spend my evenings shouting at them.going out late never appealed to me in my mid-20s. So I sympathesize with you completely. My group of friends were the quiet-pub-at-3-in-the-afternoon crowd. Then we'd all play video games at someone's place until late but before the T was crowded with drunk kids. Nothing's less appealing than riding on publicntransportnwith 100+ drunk kids about to throw up. Going out late? Completely unappealing. I never understod it either.
posted by zizzle at 4:07 AM on July 4, 2012

Agreed with people who say that bars/clubs are usually boring early on. That said, I don't usually go out that late anymore (I'm 28) but am more likely to go out to dinner and then drinks after or something, which could lead to staying out pretty late, than waiting to go out really late. As I get older I'm more likely to just stay home if I don't get out earlier in the evening.

In my earlier 20s I remember "pre-gaming" at someone's house most of the time before going out, usually because we were mostly going to clubs/bars and those don't really get going until later.
posted by fromageball at 4:39 AM on July 4, 2012

Ah my friend, welcome to the urban human mating game. Years ago, in what seems like a former life, I inhabited Los Angeles nightclubs for several years, and then had a career in San Francisco researching nightlife on behalf of A 500 Pound Gorilla.

For the first time, I will publicly summarise findings here for you, although if I am ever asked about these findings, I imagine the random amnesia that occurs on occasion will kick in.

Why People Go Out Late for Windbox

First, let's look at the cast of characters that inhabit the nightlife continuum:
1) Single men
2) Single women
3) Couples (men + women, men + men, women + women)

Single men go out "to have fun", which really means both "to meet single women" as well as "celebrate the magic that is my amazing life".

Single women go out "to have fun", which really means both "to meet single men" as well as "celebrate the magic that are my amazing friends".

Couples go out "to see something" which really means both "to see single friends" as well as "to celebrate the magic of something specific". Couples live in CoupleWorld, which is a place generally off-limits (because single people find it boring), where they see other couple friends.

This begins setting up the dichotomy. There is a shared aspect of why singles and couples go out – "to celebrate the magic of life" – and differing aspects. Singles go to meet people, couples go because their single friends need to meet people.

Now, let's look at the time horizon of a typical night in a club somewhere in the Western World.

Early (7 – 9): Drink specials. The people that show up early are either regulars that comfortable inhabit the space, or people looking for a deal on drinks.

Kickoff (9 – 11): People begin arriving for The Nightlife, the drink specials end, and everyone is in a decent mood. People at this point are sticking close to their cliques, as the booze has not taken effect and the crowd is a mixed population of Singles, Ambiguous, and Couples.

It's quite a dangerous time to be looking for Someone To Play With Here, for when someone hits on an Ambiguous person (who look exactly the same as Single people), either their pride suffers (if they are unsuccessful) or their face/hair suffers (if they are successful).

This is the phase where Couples play Matchmaker, inviting two Single friends to meet. If the Single friends hit it off and drinks are quite expensive, the Couple will often take their leave. If the Single friends do not hit it off and drinks are quite expensive, the Couple and the Single woman will often leave. This gives the Single man another opportunity to celebrate his amazing life and go hunting.

If the drinks are cheap, everyone probably stays, and may well make a mess.

The Reckoning (11 – 1): One of the many wonderful aspects of being in a Couple is that You've Already Found Someone and thus, after one has celebrated their amazing life (1 - 3 hours depending on how amazing it is), they have their match and go home -- often to do the thing that the Single people (especially the men) are trying to do. If one of the large motivations of going out is the result of sexual activity, Couples have an advantage here. They do not need another $13 martini to ensure the monkey dance happens.

And if one looks closely, there is The Exodus Of The Couples within The Reckoning. The Couples begin taking their leave. If Single friends have been unsuccessful, the Single friend goes too.

This is often why headline musical events are staged at this time. If the musical event is the draw for the couples, they will leave when it's over. The Singles are equally as attracted to the prospect of meeting other Singles, thus they will stay.

The Couple Exodus occurs quite quickly, for there is little less appealing to a Couple than a bar filled with drunk Single people. If it's a happy relationship, Couples go home to get happy. If it's an unhappy relationship, Couples go home because staying may result in a Public Altercation, which disrupts the illusion they have of harmony.

Regardless, the Couples leave quickly, leading to The Shining Moment.

The Shining Moment occurs about 12:30 in San Francisco and Los Angeles, when the Couples have largely left, and now the Singles are free to pair off. With the distractions of Couples and Ambiguous singles removed, the remaining group are Singles open to further adventures, either later that night or possibly another day in the future. From 12:30 – 1, the progress of a Single Man is amazing. He has already established his Top 3 prospects – as have the Single Women.

Then comes Battle Royale, that time where it's a high-speed game of musical chairs. Each Single moves quickly, and there are immediate pairings... new ephemeral Couples that follow permanent Couples closely in time.

A feature to remember is that if one arrived early (for the cheap drinks), chances are by now, their skills are diminished (indicated by slurring and inappropriate touching) and they are sending a broadcast message to the other Singles that they will not be participating in the Battle Royale. They are often targets for Singles With Bad Intentions (robbery or worse) and thus The Referees (sometimes called Bouncers) will actively remove them from the Battle Royale, if they don't have the good sense to remove themselves.

The Interlude (1 - 3)

After the obvious pairings have departed, clearing another phase from the floor, the negotiations begin. Everyone is in sales mode, for whilst they have not found a direct and obvious match, they're keen to meet new people. This phase starts enthusiastically and gradually dwindles. This is often when words like "Pizza" or "Denny's" are first mentioned.

The Couples are now asleep, ready to wake up early and have brunch with the other Couples and gossip about Singles from the night before.

The Aftermath (3+)

As the evening has departed and morning is soon to arrive, the bar is literally a bunch of drunk and rowdy Single men overcome with emotion, ranging from raw rage to open tears. "Pizza" and "Denny's" change to words like "Taxi" and "Drunk Tank".

It sounds like your friends may be wise to this process, and thus rather than watching the pre-game show, and the first half of the game, they're keen to arrive at half-time and watch the finish to see who wins.
posted by nickrussell at 5:18 AM on July 4, 2012 [46 favorites]

this is just from memory, but the later you go out, the fewer reminders of daytime life you see and the more mysterious your environment becomes. a city at 2am is a completely different place than the same city at 2pm.

Yes. This. The old people are gone by then and the city is finally "ours". It's about being as different as possible from everybody else.

(Is what I felt when I was that age.)
posted by gjc at 5:43 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel pretty much the same way you do. Maybe you should go to the bars early and start hanging out with the people you meet then! Or get your friends to invite you over for the pre-party/prep period.
posted by mskyle at 6:11 AM on July 4, 2012

Just FYI, dc has no closing time, and clubs stay open until 4 am fairly regularly. I used to come home at sunrise in dc all the time.
posted by empath at 6:28 AM on July 4, 2012

Also, don't forget about after party. You pre-game, then go to the club, meet people, then go to an after party at someone's house for more music/drinking/drugs, etc.
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on July 4, 2012

In many parts of Europe, the good clubs don't open until 11 or midnight, and they really don't get rocking until 2 or 3 am. That is a completely different scene from most of the the US, but some clubs in bigger cities of Chicago and New York are a bit like that. Of course, in a place like Berlin or Rome it is common to only sit down for dinner at 8 and then linger over it for 3 hours, and a 'night out' often lasts until the sun is coming up for the dedicated.
posted by rsanheim at 6:33 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Or maybe work on a hobby?

I do improv, so I'm either performing or at a friend's show. By the time things wrap up at the theater (the last show usually finishes up after midnight; though it's possible to bail any time before that if people are up for it), it's the "going out" time you describe.

So yes, find a hobby. Or find a closer group of friends who want to pregame/hang out/skip the bars and clubs altogether with you, rather than without.
posted by Eideteker at 6:42 AM on July 4, 2012

If it's any consolation, your friends will probably age out of this. I remember about a year ago (when I was 28) being on a train at 12:30 on my way home, and hearing a 22-23 year old on a phone making plans for how she was going to meet her friends. And even though I used to do that at her age, I was filled with this sense of, "my god, she's first meeting them now? That just sounds exhausting."
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:13 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's hard to get a big group of people together for anything, especially young people with different schedules. Further, a lot of young people don't work 9-5, and may not even get off until 10.

Finally, large groups often have difficulty making decisions, so a plan often doesn't come together until the last minute.
posted by spaltavian at 7:24 AM on July 4, 2012

I go out late because there's stuff to do.

First there's the mundane stuff - do laundry, clean my room/apartment, do the dishes, take a shower, wash my hair, etc. Let's say i get home at 6pm after work, I'll decompress with a beer or TV or something and it's 7pm before I start any of these, so given an hour for housework it's 8pm - or later if the laundry machines were busy or I had to go out and grab shampoo from the store or something.

After that I'll grab dinner - it could be something cheap so I don't feel as bad spending lots of money later at the bar or maybe there are some friends I'm having dinner with.

There's a conceit I feel I should point out here - I might be nice/friendly towards you, and I might actually like you and genuinely want to meet up later, but that doesn't necessarily mean I would want to have dinner with you. (Sorry!)

Either way, figure an hour for dinner, so it's 9pm.

After that, it's hobby time, though I feel like 'hobby' is the wrong word as what goes here varies and may be something I only do once a month on Fridays for 2 hours before going out. (Nor do I feel that the word procrastination necessarily applies either.)

Maybe I'm gonna go watch the new movie that just came out that I really wanna see. Or maybe I bought a video game and I want to play that for a bit hour. Or go to the mall and shop. (but that'll usually be directly after work instead since the mall closes early). Maybe there's an AskMe that I want to pen an answer for. Or a book/magazine I've been meaning to catch up on.

By this point it's probably around 10:30, and still need to get getting dressed up and go somewhere. Depending on location of bars and where I live and how dressed up i get, 11pm sounds nominal to meet up with you somewhere.

If doing all this before heading out sounds exhausting - well, yeah, that's why you might sound old when you want to skip all that and just go out at 8 or 9 and a few drinks, and go home and sleep. Actually, the situation's actually worse than that though - it sounds like you're boring and don't have a life (wherein the above constitutes "having a life") or friends of your own. (I'm not trying to be mean, but you did ask about thought processes.)

"Going out" has the specific connotation of having done all of the above, that you're in a good mood and am ready to party. You may have more luck asking "What're you doing before that?" or better yet, suggesting a cute new place we can grab dinner at or something to do beforehand.
posted by fragmede at 1:17 PM on July 4, 2012

nthing comments about drinking before going out to maximise your budget, which thus shifts your evening later.

Best bit of going out late for me is being in the city at night. The city takes on a whole different character, bits you thought you knew well are transformed and it's all an adventure. I like how the night air smells. And, I like those moments you get when it's night but you're walking around in a deserted city and it feels like it's all yours. It's your very own secret city playhouse. That is also very empowering, as a woman, but only if I'm not worrying about imminently being the victim of crime.
posted by thetarium at 5:48 PM on July 4, 2012

I don't really like to hang out in a bar for 4 hours, it ends up being too expensive and staying in the same place that long gets boring, unless it's a club with a good dj and people are actually dancing (and at those places it doesn't get good until 1 and often later, so no need to arrive until after 12). Getting there late, staying 2 hours and leaving around last call would be better than getting there early and feeling like I'm done with this place and ready to leave by 11 - that is when I feel like an old person.
posted by citron at 6:55 PM on July 4, 2012

I'm just here to say that you should just count yourself really lucky if your friends actually show up within 30 minutes of when they say they will. Especially since you're in the D.C. area.
posted by zephyr_words at 7:44 PM on July 4, 2012

I'm gonna say that I've felt similar to like you, op... forever. Even when I was freakin' 19 I wanted to basically go to bed at 10:30 or 11. Hell it wasn't even until I was about 25 or so that I was really able to stay up past midnight without feeling like somebody had drugged me (and no, I'm not narcoleptic, my body just prefers to go to bed early). So much for keeping up with the party.

I'm probably the only rock n roller guy I know who has always felt like he would like the party to begin at 2pm and finish by dinner.
posted by bitterkitten at 7:19 AM on July 5, 2012

(I should hope "girls" are not going out to clubs with alcohol).

I didn't hang out with a clubbing crowd in my 20s, but in my teens people would try to get from the bar/pub to the club just before 11pm - before entry costs went up but a while after the club opened, so there'd be a few people there. Also, drinks in nightclubs are a lot more expensive than the ones in pubs,which we could just about afford at 16/17.
posted by mippy at 3:10 PM on July 5, 2012

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