Vikings party, hard. That famous take-no-prisoners vigor applies, big time, when it comes to getting down and conquering pints of good ole bjor (beer by local breweries Viking, natch, Egils, Thule, Spegils, and Litli Jon), the low-alckie malt (brown ale), and lagerol (pale ale). Ducking into Reykjavik's three-floor dance palace NASA (slogan: "EXPECT HANGOVERS!"), I didn't glimpse too many elfin Icelanders sucking down the native caraway schnapps, brennivin, also known locally as svartidauoi ("black death" — sch-weet). I was served that on the jet over, along with yummy business-class reindeer sashimi. (Svartidauoi is a very necessary chaser when it comes to tourist palate-tester skyrhakari — putrid shark).
Drinks, schminks, the locals were out on the dance floor, booty dancing to Ali "Dubfire" Shirazinia of Deep Dish live on the tables. Got to love the native boogie that evening: a condensed, pixieish finger-and-shoulder wiggle that was a smidge early Steve Martin and more than a little high-nerd. High, for reals — my sturdy male traveling companions later reported back from the men's room, which they described as a "total scene." A woman apparently waltzed in at one point and set up a pharmacy, surrounded by a crowd that proved Viking blood courses through their veins — according to one fellow traveler, they elbow something fierce.
Though the packed club was bustling, I met with no outta-hand shoving, just friendly offers to dance with groups of fresh-faced men, handsome, slender, and high-cheekboned. This evening, the internationally renowned Icelandic ladies paled in comparison — many appeared a wee bit wenchy. You know what I'm talking about — too much maquillage, too little too-tight clothing, too many servings of rotten shark. Meow! Where's my kitten tartare? Time to repair to a quieter watering hole, like Asian fusion temple Apotek, mod lounge Oliver, or the chandeliered Rex, where Quentin Tarantino is said to have matched shots with Björk and the Iceland cultural minister.
Forget about live music tonight, although Iceland is chock-an-ice-block with creative musical originals. I followed Tarantino's lead once again — as well as Bill Clinton's — and ended the morning at the Baejarins Beztu hot dog stand by the wharf, right next to my deco lodging, Hotel 1919, circa 1919. Mind-cleansing, chill sea air. Warm light emanating from the oldest fast-food joint in Reykjavik (established 1935). The finest dog in town (homemade lamb wieners topped with delish dried onion and rémoulade). No better way to watch the dawn melt into day. (Kimberly Chun)