I met my colleagues after work for a drink in Place Lux on more than one occasion. The European Parliament is located in Brussels and happens to be the shiny backdrop for this popular after work square. The patios are packed with people standing and drinking. Everyone is wearing business attire: black, grey or white skirts, dress pants, jackets and high heels for all the ladies.  The mingled tone of all the voices in several languages and accents are humming after a long day at the Commission for most Lux-goers. The music is loud in the background, but is muffled by the conversing people.

Drinking a gigantic beer out of a plastic cup (just like everyone else), I look around at all the business people wondering how they can do this every night five nights a week. Its easy to see that they don’t eat any dinner after work. They just walk down to Place Lux and get a few beers or glasses of wine. Everyone is thin, well dressed and engrossed in conversation. My throat begins to sting from yelling to be heard and from inhaling all the smoke. We stand under a white roofed tent with clear plastic walls. It’s like being in a dark greenhouse but its full of smoke instead of warm humidity.

Around 9:30pm the patios begin to thin out as people head home to do what ever they do in the evenings. Maybe they have another drink. Maybe they eat a piece of toast or a salad and check their emails before taking a shower.

My clothes ingrained with the smokey smell and my throat ached, I felt even more tired because socializing in this atmosphere is work for me. Standing for a few hours, straining my voice to its limits in order to be heard by the person standing next to me, trying to come up with topics to talk about with people I’ve never met, all while keeping an eye on my purse and my beer.

Place Lux may be the cool place to be Monday through Friday evening, but be prepared to have a second job of professional socializing because you never know who you will meet when you’re there.