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A toga party in a Roman temple? How could I pass it up?
In the summer of 2013, I laid in a hammock with a glass of red wine next to me and a book in my hand. I swung back and forth in the little patio off the hostel I was staying at in Rimini, Italy. People were laughing, talking, and smoking next to me in the patio, but my mind was drifting. The wine and sound of waves started to put me into a fuzzy lull. A beautiful long blond-haired man named Marco called my name. I had met him the first night in the hostel and he was working there in order to travel. He had that beach bum vibe and a joy that was contagious.
“Acasia, you wanna go clubbing tonight with us?” He asked in an adorable Australian accent.
My eyes floated over to him while I shook my head no. No, I didn’t want to go clubbing with a bunch of strangers in a strange city, especially since a nice quiet Italian meal and a snooze in the hammock sounded so much better.
“No thanks, Marco, I think I’ll stay in."
He laughed from deep in his chest.
“You’re seriously going to pass up a toga party in a Roman temple for a night here?”
He couldn’t quite believe it.
He was right, though. Wasn’t I in Italy to experience things I never had? To get out of my comfort zone? How COULD I possibly pass that up?
I laughed and smiled and finally agreed. That evening, with help, I wrapped a sheet from the hostel around me in some semblance of a toga and improvised with sandals and fake leaves, and I was as ready as I ever would be.
We arrived at midnight, which is actually very early for Italians to start partying. It was not packed, just starting to get busier as we made our way inside. My eyes flitted to everything and everyone. We were in a sea of white, but not everyone was dressed in a toga. Women and men both wore outfits I would never see even in an American club, and some people were dressed like they didn’t bother changing from their day. People dressed as Roman guards, others as Roman Gods stood around the room. The colorful lights flashed and played against the water and walls.
Discoteca Baia Imperiale or, in English, The Imperial Bay, is not technically a Roman temple, though you wouldn’t know that by looking at it. It’s one of the largest and most elaborate dance clubs in Italy and it causes your breath to hitch just walking up to it. The large staircases, booming pillars and statues, fountains flowing, and bowls of fire, are just the beginning.
This nightclub blew my mind. Three levels, multiple rooms, a restaurant, a pond, and even a swimming pool. I felt as if I had entered an entirely new world. One that I wasn’t a part of but got to be for those special few hours. Ladies rested by the pools drinking their champagne with cigarettes in hand while men waited on their every word.
At first, I stuck close to the group I had come with, until I started to wander around exploring all it had to offer. The three different levels had five rooms across them, and each room had different DJs and music styles. I floated as if in a haze through the mansion I had found myself in, almost not believing it was real. Grabbing an overpriced drink, I found the floor I liked best and proceeded to dance the night away. I danced with men and women and probably some decedents of these Roman kings, as well.
I frequently went out on the large terrace to take a break and see the marvelous view. The club is tucked into the hills and offers an incredible view of the Adriatic sea and a bit of the city below it. I rested on chairs that made me feel like royalty and watched people laugh, cry, and drunkenly dance.
I leaned on the rails, staring out onto the Eastern coast of Italy as the sun rose and people drifted away. My eyes started to close and my feet felt the pressure of a night of dancing. Marco came up behind me and put his arm over my shoulder.
“Aren’t you glad you came,” he smiled sleepily.
And I was. I really was.