I arrive at the Greek island of Corfu’s infamous party hostel “The Pink Palace” — an entirely pink compound where riding ATVs and kayaks by day turn to “Are you on birth control?” by night. The desk clerk tells me that it’s too early to check in, but I’m welcome to drop my luggage and head down to their private beach.
“A private beach at a budget hostel?” I think to myself. “It’s too good to be true… I’m for sure getting bed bugs.”
I take my welcome drink (it’s 8 AM), and start for the beach, passing a poolside Jacuzzi, private nightclub, and twenty-four-hour bar on the way. The first thing I notice when my toes hit the sand, naturally, is a group of twenty-something dudes laying out, shirtless, blasting candy pop on their portable speaker. It’s an auspicious start.
I pick a chair close enough that they’ll notice me, but not too close that they’ll know I want them to notice me. One individual — perhaps the douchiest dude I’ve seen since Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” — begins chatting me up and I cannot contain my excitement for how much I hate him. His name is Luke and he’s from Maine. He’s sporting an American flag swimsuit that is just short enough it’s neither European nor okay, and white sunglasses resting on top of his baseball hat to complete the look (of my actual nightmare).
If it seems like I’m being overly judgmental, it’s because I am, but Luke will also go on to brag about how last night at the hostel’s gender swap party, he had sex with two “gold star lesbians.” Still, I’m alone and trying to have a good time, make friends, and keep an open mind, so even though Luke will definitely lose a bodybuilding competition one day, I decide to keep up the interaction. Besides, he seems relatively harmless. (This might be a good time to mention that I definitely made out with Luke).
A twenty-year-old girl with stringy hair and smudged mascara plops herself down on Luke’s lap. Her name is Kristine and she works at the hostel. “Works” is a loose term; Kristine is staying for a month for free in exchange for being a hot girl. Her job is to help organize the parties, pass out free shots of ouzo, and “keep it lit.” Kristine and I make small talk, and while I can’t tell if she and Luke are a “thing for now,” I get no sense she’s territorial. In fact, she’s sweet, charismatic, and overtly flirting with me. She asks if I want to get ready with her for the night’s Toga Party. I jump at the chance, thankful to have someone to hang out with.
“Great!” she chirps, kissing me directly on the mouth and scurrying off into the ocean, like a caricature of a free spirit in a poorly written rom-com.
Luke clocks my surprised expression, and cuts off my thoughts mid-sentence: “You do know what this place turns into at night, don’t you?”
“Uh, the sunken place?” I reply, cautiously.
He laughs. “You’ll see.”