What to Eat When You're Coming Down from a Clubbing High
Bring yourself back to life.
All photos by the author.
Later you'll laugh about it, but right now it's deadly serious. What exactly happened, how you got to where you did—hard to figure out, but the night seemed to go up in the usual smoke and blow away in familiar dust. But now here you are, some 15-odd hours later, still spinning from the DJ and trying to walk away from the club as normally as possible. Reality is starting to come into focus, and so is your appetite. In these dire times, what will help the most?
Well, my once wild and weary, you are not alone. Here, a glimpse into the lives of other clubbers and the food they run to for their long journey back to normalcy.
Nationality: German, "100%."
Occupation: biotechnology student
Young Henning started his party career in earnest around the tender age of 13 or 14, as is common for youth in the German countryside. But his raging acumen really shot up when he moved to Berlin—also quite common!—two years ago. Don't party for longer than 24 hours, for example. And when it comes to food, "Convenience over quality."
As such, a clear pattern has emerged: Big Mac and a Vanilla Shake.
"It really continues the self-destructive mood," he offers. "I crave it when I pick up my jacket at coat check."
The infamous combo, it turns out, was not only sinfully satisfying, but an enabling prop for a little good old-fashioned self-rebellion.
"Big Macs were how I stopped being vegetarian a year ago," he says with a touch of amused satisfaction. "I just thought I should go for the worst option. I figured if you're gonna break the rule, might as well go all the way."
And as for the milkshake, well, he's lactose-intolerant. But noting a lack of saliva after partying, he grabs one to "flush it down" and "avoid too much chewing." (And really, if we're being honest, you don't exactly need teeth to eat the Big Mac either.)
Occupation: Software engineer
Ever the scientist, Leo did his snack research way back in 2003 and became one of the initial crowdfunders for Soylent.
"They treat their food product almost like they would treat a software application," he says of the nutrient gloop. "They version it and improve it iteratively, and they even have release notes just like a software application would, where they specify what changed between the versions."
Now, with 15 years of partying under his belt, he's putting the science to work. Having some woes procuring Soylent in Germany, he found a nice equivalent in Mana, which he stuffs in his backpack for after the club and in the middle, too, sneaking off to the coat check to gulp a box of it down.
"Clubbing in Berlin is so excessive that it's nice to have something calming and almost bland at the end of the night," he says. "It kind of tastes like sweet pancake batter and won't make me throw up curry noodles."
Occupation: Fashion student
"I'm not a person who eats döner kebabs in bed," says Robert, a Neukölln resident with a penchant for head-turning outfits and dining at Korean restaurants. Weekly partying for him usually ends Monday mornings, when his favorite parties—Herrensauna and Same Bitches—finally sweep everyone to the curb.
After a small snooze, he slides up to the stove for something special: a skillet-wide Korean kimchi pancake. Spicy, sour, and just the right amount of greasy, it's enough to disown the döner any day. It requires few ingredients, but patience is one of them. Merely smelling it sizzle is redemptive enough to make you almost feel human again.
Six years ago, Julia was somewhere between puking and fainting when she staggered to the coat check for some salvation. What she found was something portably small, energizing, and requiring minimal chewing and interaction with the outside world (apparently both common challenges, to which even the lazy and sober can relate): Snickers and a banana. And a bonus for these coat-check chomps: They each come with their own jacket.
"In restaurants, it's like you're not supposed to be there because you look shittier than everyone else," she says. "but with Snickers and bananas, I would say that's a safe go-to snack because you can't really offend anyone—except for possibly getting mushy in your pocket." The woman has a point.
Dr. Lisa Young, nutritionist and adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, would applaud her for the dose of magnesium and potassium found in the yellow emojis. (Though she might not fully go for her side dish of cigarettes.)
Young has some other dietary tips to chew on. Besides the clear antidote—water—she recommends oranges and leafy greens to replenish the potassium that alcohol erases.
"Chicken soup is also great! It restores fluid and sodium," Young says. It also packs cysteine, which is good for the liver, and along with other lean meat, helps lower blood pressure. "Have a stomachache? Go for crackers or toast to get something in your stomach." Chewing optional; some saliva required.