Introduction: Five-Story Club
Off the east end of Charles Bridge is Karlovy Lázně, Prague’s most notorious tourist trap. The bright blue neon lettering boldly declares that it is “The Biggest Music Club in Middle Europe.” Personally, I’m not quite sure what the hell Middle Europe is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Karlovy Lázně, with its five stories of dance clubs (earning the nickname Five-Story Club), lives up to this claim.
The decor is almost too bizarre to be considered tacky. The Kaleidoskop Room on the second story, for example, features a statue on the dance floor emitting red lasers from its eyes. Seriously.
As disgusting as Karlovy Lázně is, I would add it to the list of must-visit attractions in Prague, alongside cultural landmarks like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and Old Town Square. Five-Story Club is where tourists flock, and as an appropriate response, there is not a single place in the city that panders more to that audience. Simply put, Karlovy Lázně is exactly what Czech people think of foreigners.
But when I write about the Czech Republic, I’m reporting my own impressions of an unfamiliar place. Though I’ve done my best to document people, places, and events accurately, there are probably errors and misunderstandings in these stories. My perception of the Czech Republic could be as wildly aloof as Five-Story Club’s best estimate of Americans, but it’s that gap in culture, language, and personality that makes travel writing as fun to read as it is to write.
Since I left, Karlovy Lázně has replaced their sign to read “The Biggest Club in Central Europe.” I guess we’re all learning something.