True Italy Stories – Out of Gas in Puglia (Part 6)

Blissful Adventurer - Michael Housewright

Puglia Boy Offering Beer

Here is part 6 of the day the disco broke down

After Da Matteo our Italian friends, Puglia Boy and Chef Girl, called it a night and even though we urged them to join our American beach-bound birthday bash the Italiani simply were not having it and I believe they just wanted a quiet evening alone. As we sat on our porch enjoying a bottle of wine (or several) we could hear the discos in the background revving up into the foreground and we were getting noticeably excited.

Puglia Boy explained that we need simply drive down the road and choose which club looked interesting. We all jumped in the Audi with the orange glow of the low fuel light glaring in my face. I took the driver’s seat and as always questioned why Puglia Boy made a habit out of keeping the car so near to empty. On many occasions I have jumped in the car on my way to a time sensitive meeting or errand and the distance to empty meter on the trip computer indicated I had less than Zero km till empty.

Now, I have also seen my buddy drive the car across town and back on 0km more than a few times so I knew this indicator to be more Russian roulette-like than a forgone conclusion the car would cease to operate prior to making a fuel stop. I also been in the car numerous times and in fact just a few weeks later again when Puglia Boy pulls into a fuel stop with the car on “E” and I see him simply add 5, 10, or 20 Euro of fuel to the tank.

This is baffling to me. 10 euro of fuel is about 1.5-2 gallons which means that the whole 0km till empty dance will begin again in just a day or two. Now, as I am apt to do, I begin to adopt the same habits of those I am around and as I glanced at the glowing orange 0km till empty I knew somehow that if I went for fuel now rather than proceeding directly to the disco I would  be killing our very adventurous buzz.

In truth, I was actually pretty damned tired at this point (now well after midnight) and I knew if I stopped for fuel I might simply call it a night and I had 3 very excited passengers ready to get their disco birthday groove on, and I could not let them down. In fact, I wanted to just chill on the porch with PB and CG this night and relax to myself, but duty called and I could not let this birthday party come to an end without making every effort to lead our intrepid revelers once more unto the breech. So, on vapors both physically and mentally I drove us forward along the beach road, windows down, wine buzzes at their peaks, and everyone looking gorgeous.

Blissful Adventurer - Michael Housewright

A Much Needed TBA Beer Charge

Of course, the discos are all hidden by the treeline and only small nondescript signs indicate whether a club or a pay beach lay on the other side of the trees. As we made one pass along the beach road almost to the next town of Savelletri we knew we had seen all the choices and had to turn the car around and head back this time preparing to select. Keep in mind the orange indicator light was now glowing brighter in my mind’s eye and I was actually concerned the next chamber held the big “E” bullet. As we were making our way back we saw the dimly lit parking lot on the left and folks making their way into the grove of trees across the road on our right. We knew we had found a place. I pulled into the parking lot and was waved along by a buff flag-man who was somehow smoking a cigarette, waving a flag, and talking on his cell phone all while wearing a little orange vest and no shirt.  We pulled into a spot that was about 15% smaller than a space in Texas that would be labeled Compact Car Only and we proceeded across the street to the club.

Doormen must have a particular genetic code that makes them doormen, because at any club worldwide the doorman, bouncer, ID guy, or fashion assessor has the same look, same stare, and same response. If you are a guy, solo, and without proper cash or cache you are likely denied, but with 2 beautiful girls, the chains are lifted and the entrance fees are forgotten (at least so we thought). Now, I had heard for years about the price gouging for drinks at clubs in Italy and most of Europe and the myths proved to be reality. In my experience with Italy, the Italian is not often a big drinker of alcohol as inebriation can lead to making an ass of oneself which is a high crime in the appearance is everything world of southern Italy, so it is not uncommon to see Italians have Coke, Fanta, OJ, or some other sugar-laden concoction deep into the night. The beach disco has taken all of this into careful consideration and charges no less than 8 euro for a non-alcoholic drink and 10 euro for any sort of call drink. Now, call me crazy, but if I can get a drink with a premium liquor like real Cuban Havana Club rum for 10 euro or a Coke for 8, I am drinking the booze on principle alone. Of course, this was a birthday bash and we needed bubbles so Lobster-Head (still pink but numb from wine) ordered a bottle of prosecco from the barman. This bottle would have been about 9 euro in the store, but was a cool 50 spot at the disco.

This particular club was a series of ground level decking laid out like sidewalks through the sand with little seating areas covered in white sheer fabrics along the sides and nestled into the small dunes.  Basically, it was impossible to avoid getting sand on you and in your shoes so we just accepted it and rocked on in our flip-flaps as the Italiani call them. There were little thatched seating areas all about with semi-damp cushions and sheer fabrics blowing in the breeze and waving in time to the thump thump of the euro-dance in the foreground. I was well into my troppo caro prosecco when the next idiosyncrasy of the Italian disco dawned on me. I looked up at the stage and noticed the DJ was surrounded by preening dudes. I did a double-take and noticed that unlike a club in America where the stage and the DJ would be surrounded by scantily-clad and very attractive women, the Italian beach disco was laden with guys each vying for their turn to dance at the front of the stage. I carefully looked about to make certain we were not at a gay club and in a moments’ notice I was sure this was a well mixed crowd and it became apparent that the stage rush was just another classic Italian mating ritual. There were more gel-haired peacocks on that stage than grains of sand in my shoes, clothes, and ass (I made the mistake of sitting for a minute). Then I noticed that there was a guy with a microphone and he was “assisting” the DJ by riling up the crowd with pleas and dance maneuvers designed to keep the crowd in time, but he was really just being a total tool and listening to himself ramble. It was at this moment that for some reason (couldn’t have been alcohol, exhaustion, or too much responsibility) I decided I wanted to leave and got into a bit of a tiff with my wife. Birthday girl and lobster-boy were in their own planet and I took a walk to the front and sat again on a muggy seat-cushion and ogled a few sparsely clothed girls who were a color of bronze not seen since the discovery of Pompeii. Holy shit where was I?  Of course, within minutes I was lonely, vexed, and in need of  a Mojito so I found my crew ordered the next round of 10 euro drinks and realized at this point I had dropped about 80 euro on booze, which  more than curbed any joy I received in the free entry.

This was the point that I learned that entry to the club was free, but the exit was not. When I spent my 80th euro I was given a small token that satisfied the drink minimum for myself and my wife. This was an all important token because basically if you do not present it at the door on your way out, you either pay 40 euro per person or are summarily pummeled into the ground by the doormen, the parking attendants, the bartenders, and the passing barboni.  Needless to say I kept my token close to my heart while attempting to upstage the peacocks with some vintage ’89 dance moves that were all the rage for the Bizarre Love Triangle crowd. You better believe my 1.97 meter 105 kilo frame was stirring up some fucking sand on this night. The space around our dancing crew looked like the entrance of the classic Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil and I liked it this way. The 4 birthday revelers were owning the beach disco (at least in our heads) and no one was going to stop us; except the music was getting bad, the air was getting cool, and the day had just been too long.  We collected ourselves, our tokens, a couple of yards of sand and headed for the exit.


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