No. That’s not me. On the right. With the pole. But I have to admit to being tempted. I’ve been coming to Malta for about two years now, always staying in the same room, in the same hotel, in the same town – St Julian’s. Although it’s just a short stumble from the Cavalieri to Paceville, the hotbed of nightlife in Malta, I’d never quite made it past the corner. Until last week. Mid-week. Wednesday night. And all I can say is I’ve done it and doubt very much that I’ll feel the need to do it again any time soon.
Even on a quiet night mid-week, people were spilling out of bars onto the streets. We tried a few – Plush, Nordic, Havana – and some others whose names didn’t register. Drinks are small and cheap. €7.70 for a G&T, vodka coke, and pint of Carlsberg. A few smokers brazen it out and smoke inside, preferring to pay the fine (if fined) rather than go outside. The crowd is young – very young – so young that my presence drastically distorts the demographics. Heels are high, skirts are short, and thighs are trembling…especially those thighs that are wrapped around the poled platforms. Thin, fat, short, tall, male, female – it seems like everyone in Paceville is a wannabe pole dancer.
And everyone is friendly. Very friendly. I met two Irish lads from Limerick over here with Lufthansa working as aircraft mechanics. They figure that Maltese girls are seriously intense. Some random chap walked up to me, looked into my eyes and said: ‘I like you, dawg. You’re cool.’ I heard ‘dog’ having been catapulted back in time to that old schoolyard rhyme: a bitch is a dog, a dog is an animal, animal is nature, nature is beautiful, thank you for the compliment. I questioned it as a chat-up line and he explained, all the while looking at me as if I’d come down in the last shower. What planet was I from? I was beginning to wonder that myself.
Paceville works in shifts – the very young leave by 11pm. The teens by midnight. The twenties by two and then the rest (probably those with the money) stay on. It’s quite well orchestrated really and an interesting study of humanity to see everyone crammed into a few streets. Those in the know walk the gauntlet high-fiving and ‘yeah, bro’ing’ their legions of fans. Even those tourists coming to the end of their stay have an easy familiarity with the locals while those out on their first night have the wide-eyed stares of a deer caught in the headlights.
It was certainly an experience. The company was great. The craic was almost mighty. And I can now safely cross Paceville off my bucket list.