Nightlife & the Arts in Prague
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Before 1989, bar offerings were fairly limited to beer and shots of domestic rum or slivovice (plum brandy), and most bars closed by 10 pm or so. Decorations were a few pages torn from calendars and some stray sports trophies.
Now Western-style cocktail bars have come to dominate the downtown area, and traditional Czech pubs, with long wooden tables, early closing hours, and menus that look like they've been run off on mimeograph machines, are being pushed out. That's a shame, because nothing beats a good night at the pub for a true Czech experience. (But you can find a few of these relics these in the outlying residential neighborhoods.)
Bars in the center have grown closer to their Western rivals in international liquor selection—and price. But Czech beer on tap is still king in the majority of pubs. And outdoor seating at pubs and restaurants and beer gardens in parks in the summer offers a relaxed way to unwind after a day of trudging around the city's seven hills.
Recent entries to the cocktail-bar trend offer panoramic rooftop views of the skyline or trendy interior designs and lighting schemes, but these are clearly modeled on similar bars in Western Europe and the U.S.
For those who want to look beyond the bar there are evening cruises on the Vltava that show off a waterfront that is quickly being developed into prime real estate after decades of neglect.
And while Prague isn't Monte Carlo, gambling is legal, and there is a range of establishments from exclusive high-class casinos to all-night bars with slot machines and video-gaming terminals. Most gamers, though, say the venues are a bit lacking in luster and ambience.
The music club scene has been growing since the early 1990s, and many clubs now have long-standing theme nights and, often, visiting DJs from across Europe as well as resident DJs with committed followings.
The city also has an increasingly visible gay scene, as the local attitude of minding one's own business at all costs means that gays and lesbians, while not always welcomed with open arms, are tolerated without objections.
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