Midnight rolls around and finds me standing on a balcony atop a hill in the picturesque town of Vina Del Mar, gazing across the bay at the fireworks display in Valpareiso. The air is warm, I’m surrounded by nice people, and the champagne in my hand has been upgraded with the addition of a dollop of pineapple ice cream (it’s a local tradition). Life is good, but this being Chile, the night has only just begun. The clubs open at 2am, most are best accessed by car, so we get to see the previously hinted at native penchant for drunk driving in full affect – everyone is at it, and it’s absolute mayhem on the roads, a gigantic automotive piss-up. We pick our way through the chaos to arrive safely at our venue of choice, Conference Town, a downtown hotel where an outdoor stage has been erected to accomodate some of Chile’s finest techno DJs. It’s as if someone has organised a low-key dance festival in the grounds of the Swiss Cottage Marriot, but it works, although you’ve got to feel a little sympathy for the normal residents. We leave at 7am, and my first task of 2003 is to change a wheel on the car after we drive into a pothole and puncture a tire.
Still, boob tubes are in fashion here. Top stuff.