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Reykjavík nightlife and the wild wild west

A few years ago, agents in the Icelandic tourism industry successfully marketed Reykjavík nightlife as the hot new ticket, all wild and free and hip and crazy. Young people from all over Europe flocked here on the weekends and Reykjavík gained a reputation as THE place to party.

A couple of years later, the then-majority on the city council introduced free opening  hours for bar owners. This was allegedly to combat the problem of thousands of people pouring out into the streets when the bars closed at around 3 am, with the resulting street party and people clamoring for the few available cabs to take them home.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but alas, it had a nasty side-effect. As soon as places started staying open until 6 or 7 am, people started going out later than they already did [read: 1 or 2 am, as opposed to 11 or 12] and by the time morning rolled around they were usually either pissed out of their skulls or, worse, stoned on something that would give them the necessary endurance to keep going well into the next day. It’s no coincidence that cocaine use started to become a problem in Iceland after the opening hours were extended [plus it coincided with the 2007-era and all the insanity associated with that].

In other words, in the past few years Reykjavík nightlife has become a lot more brutal than it used to be.

Last night [or, well, early this morning] AAH came home from a night on the town. She had on no jacket and was freezing cold. She also had no bag and no money. All had been stolen. Needless to say, she was a tad upset. She’d been looking forward to going out for several days: the bars opened at midnight [on account of yesterday being Easter Sunday, one of the very few times a year when bars are closed, so they stayed closed until 12 am and then opened] and all her friends were going out.

This is not the first time this happens. It’s not even the second or the third time. I don’t know how many times AAH has had her stuff stolen. She works at a popular café downtown – one that closes around 1 am , not one of the all-night ones. Even there she’s had her stuff taken from the staff room. On other occasions she’s had her wallet stolen, and her cellphone. Bags on at least two occasions, containing everything, including a sum of money that she’d received for her birthday that same day. She’s even gone to a regular house party and had her iPod stolen. She’s learned her lesson, though, and leaves most of that stuff at home now when she goes out, or to work. But even the contents of a makeup bag are very expensive if you need to replace everything. One lipstick costs around ISK 4,000 – and the contents of an entire bag can easily set you back ISK 50,000 [USD 400].

A few months ago, she was at a place called Café Óliver, downtown. She was sitting with a bunch of friends, and got up to dance. When she came back, her coat was gone. Fortunately she found it a while later, draped over the back of someone else’s chair, and took it back. About a month later, she was in Café Óliver again, and her coat was taken again. That time, she didn’t find it.

Last night AAH was there again. She was wearing a brand-new faux leather biker jacket, very cool, that she had bought the day before. She took it off and stuck it in her bag, along with her scarf, and kept the bag on her shoulder. One of her friends was working behind the bar, so another friend – whom she was with – suggested she should let her friend behind the bar keep it for her. Just in case she let her attention slip for a moment. Because she’d had bad luck before.

So AAH handed the bag to her friend, who stashed it safely behind the bar, right where he and the other bartender were working. Half an hour later, when AAH went to claim it, it was gone. Someone had actually dived behind the bar and grabbed the bag without the bartender seeing it. And it contained everything. Wallet, cards, cellphone, makeup, brand-new jacket, scarf, house keys.

This kind of thing just makes me so furious.

There are no rules, no code of ethics out there. It’s the Wild Wild West. The night she had her coat stolen a few weeks ago, she looked all over for it, and finally asked the doormen, who shrugged and told her this happens all the time. “Girls come in wearing no coat, and walk out half an hour later with a coat on,” they said, adding that they knew people came there purposely to steal things – bags, coats, whatever they could get their hands on. Óliver seems to be particularly vulnerable, according to those in the know. Possibly because it’s fairly upscale [i.e. with people who have stuff in their bags], it tends to be packed, and it’s very dark in there. And there’s a dancefloor, so people go off to dance and leave their stuff unattended.

Personally, I can’t bear to walk into one of those places. The last time I hit the town in Reykjavík was around 2006 and the place we were in – Thorvaldsen – was like a freaking black hole. People were pissed and falling into each other and it was so loud that you had to scream to talk to the person next to you. I hardly ever drink alcohol any more, and to be in a place like that sober is just kind of horrifying. Add to that the morale I’m perceiving through AAH’s misfortunes and I just give downtown a wide berth on weekend nights.

So bottom line, if you’re in Reykjavík and you want to hit the town, here’s a bit of advice: keep your belongings GLUED to your body, and do not remove your coat. And if you see someone wearing a very cool black biker jacket that looks like the one on the fifth picture down, please do me and AAH a favour and ask them where they got it. And if they say “behind the bar at Café Óliver,” then please hit them over the head with a stick.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I must go change the locks.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kevin April 6, 2010, 12:33 am

    I’m a student here. Agree with you completely. Here’s my question: Why doesn’t a single bar in Reykjavik have coat check? People would gladly pay (tip?) an extra 200-300 to leave their coats somewhere safe while dancing. Yet there is no such thing as coat check in Iceland. And it’s cold here!

    My friends are all students. For most of us, a coat with nothing in the pockets is a tough financial loss. And I need two or three hands to count the number of friends whose coats have been stolen this year.

  • Icelandbob April 6, 2010, 12:47 am

    Alas a large amount of this is pretty on the spot. speaking as someone at who enjoys partying (like AAH i was downtown this weekend) and has been on the other side of the bar in Reykjavik i can say that you do need to keep your stuff very close to your chest as most bars (and clubs) have no cloakroom facilities. I carry the bare minimum (keys, phone, wallet) on me and i never have them in my jacket.

    With regards to the alcohol, i find that most places don´t care about the state of their punters as long as they keep buying alcohol. At one of the bars i worked in, i ended up refusing alcohol and barring nearly a dozen people on my first night! the reason? they were either too drunk to even sign their name on the receipt, or they were drunk and shouting abuse at the staff (example “give me a f*cking beer you b*tch”). But most of the staff and the doormen just didn´t seem to care, even when young girls would collapse on the pavement in a drunken stupor after leaving.

    And Thorvaldsen darling? God that is the 7th circle of hell, and the food is crap as well! Cafe Oliver isn´t much better either…

  • Dale Olafson April 6, 2010, 1:49 am

    This is very sad to hear. I’m amazed that the clubs don’t have coat checks, because they do work for everybody. your description makes it sound like it is out of hand in Reykjavik. They should be using security cameras as well. It is probably a small percentage of the population that is doing this, most likely the same ones all the time. People work hard for their money, but to an addict their is no respect for themselves let alone a fellow human being. What are the authorities doing about the problems with drug dealing and addiction, and or alcoholism in your country.

  • Maja April 6, 2010, 3:25 am

    They had a coat check in Barinn in saudarkrokur. But that’s no help in Reykjavik. I think if I were going out in Reykjavik I wouldn’t even take a bag. Just mobile and card in pocket, but womens clothes rarely have good pockets these days, do they? Maybe she should just use one of those money belts you wear under your clothes.

  • Joe Jarrell April 6, 2010, 4:16 am

    It sounds like you need a dose of Icelandic entrepreneurial ship. A small trailer equipped with lock boxes (like at a bus station) or petition the bars to set up lock boxes. Check into Radio Frequency tags (like they use in retail stores) if someone takes something and tries to pass through the detectors at the front door an alarm will sound. Perhaps you need to look at the punishment given to those who are caught, are the laws strict enough to deter crime?

  • Jessie April 6, 2010, 4:33 am

    There are a couple of places that check coats, but I agree that it would be helpful if there were more.

    My boyfriend and I joke about the “zombieapocalypse” that ensues on Laugavegur at around 4 am on weekends, with people stumbling out onto the street, staggering around glassy-eyed and out of sorts, the sound of glass crashing and people screaming. It often feels like the set of a horror movie.

    I’ve had my phone and a coat stolen in a bar downtown, and I find the coat thing very strange, coming from NYC. People steal a lot of things there, but I’ve never heard of anyone having a coat stolen, and most bars there don’t have coat checks. Fashion before morals, I guess.

  • Pat April 6, 2010, 7:39 am

    Downtown Reykjavik on a weekend night is one of the most disgusting/terrifying places to be. One evening while sitting by the window in B5, early evening I might add, trying to enjoy a simple glass of wine, we were treated to the sight of one drunken slob relieving himself right againt the glass of the front window.
    Family members have had purses stolen and money stolen out of pockets while they were at work.

  • Petri Aho April 6, 2010, 7:46 am

    That’s just shocking. I’ve thought Iceland along with other nordic countries are relatively safe and free of pickpockets and other such annoyances. I’ve never encountered or heard of such here in Finland, but granted I go out to a bar maybe once every 2-3 years. Is this a new phenomenon, maybe because of the economic situation driving people to crime? Also I agree with Kevin. Back when I was teenager I was most annoyed that all the clubs here require you to leave your jacket to the coat check, since it costs money, but in retrospect it’s probably not such a bad thing.

  • Sue April 6, 2010, 8:23 am

    Thank you for the warning Alda, I had no idea that theft and drink/drug-related crime is so rife in the city. Time to remove my rose-tinted specs and travel a little bit lighter in June. Poor AAH 🙁

  • Joerg April 6, 2010, 8:25 am

    It’s sad to hear those stories from Reykjavik. As I take it from statice.is the overall number of criminal offenses, registered by police, has not increased significantly or even decreased over the last decade – with the exception of drug related crimes, which almost doubled in this period. Don’t people report petty theft to the police? Or are those cases generally summarized as drug related?

    I don’t visit places of this kind and still feel generally quite safe in Reykjavik downtown, even on weekends. But the noise created by drunk people shouting, revving cars and thundering drums by night is annoying and lets me avoid centrally located accommodation. And having to get up early like for a return flight to Germany on weekends is always a very peculiar experience – there are more people on the streets than at rush hour, many of them obviously drunk or stoned.

  • Veerle April 6, 2010, 9:48 am

    So Reykjavík has become like the rest of Europe. As a foreign student back in 2002 it was so weird to be able to leave your belongings alone. But it’s too bad it has changed!

  • Dumdad April 6, 2010, 10:56 am

    Niceland not quite so nice nowadays. That’s a shame.

  • vincent April 6, 2010, 11:23 am

    something changing in Iceland? it’s sad this kind of situations. I remember an island where people leave the keys in the car and the house’s door open….
    during my last visit (june 2009) I went around and around but no Reykjavìk nights I had; maybe something happens???
    protect your wonderful country, protect your young people….I pray you all for this.


  • Max April 6, 2010, 11:35 am

    I spent summer of 2009 in Reykjavík, and we went out a couple of times a week downtown when we were there. It’s true, Laugarvegur is a ghastly sight at 3am, but I don’t think it’s much worse than the situation here in London. It’s just in a more concentrated area, and unlike London, peters out much later (after the last Tube, Central London is basically deserted).

    As for losing belongings, no one of us out of our group had a problem whilst we were there, and we showed up at the aforementioned Café Óliver a few times. I think the usual sensibilities that should accompany a night out, like drinking responsibly, and keeping an eye on your stuff, should suffice for most people. Obviously pickpockets do operate, but coming from a city where pickpocketing and mugging is rife, it doesn’t seem too extreme. Although admittedly I have never had my coat stolen. This kind of thing tends to take place more often out on the street over here, anyway.

    I do think that there are steps that could be taken to ameliorate the problem. As other people have already said, more bars should open up cloakrooms; I don’t think I’ve ever been to a pub or nightclub in London which doesn’t operate some kind of cloakroom service. Perhaps we’re just more worried about terrorism here or something. If people had a place where they could leave their belongings and just worry about having a good time, I think we’d see a sharp drop in the amount of incidents reported. Perhaps someone could open up such a service in a Portakabin in that little space opposite Café Óliver (you know, that bit next to Hemmi og Valdi where that yellow hot dog stand sometimes operates). Come on, budding entrepreneurs!

  • alda April 6, 2010, 11:37 am

    Thanks for the input, everyone.

    Max – I don’t think you can get much more sensible than stashing your stuff behind the bar where the bartender – who happens to be a friend of yours – is working. But alas, even that did not suffice.

  • Max April 6, 2010, 11:46 am

    I don’t know Alda, I would not feel comfortable doing that myself. I thought the golden rule was to never let your belongings out of sight. All it takes is for your friend to go to the toilet, or go out on their fag break, and your stuff is gone. Plus they can’t be watching your stuff the whole time.

    Heh, perhaps I just don’t trust my friends with my stuff. 🙂

  • alda April 6, 2010, 12:00 pm

    There are two bartenders working there at that time of night and not a chance they would leave the bar unattended. It’s also not easy to get behind the bar, as far as I can understand, and almost impossible for someone to do so unseen.

  • Max April 6, 2010, 12:01 pm

    Inside job?

  • Albert April 6, 2010, 12:34 pm

    One of the reasons I love your blog and writing is that it is a breath of fresh air compared to others writing about contemporary Iceland. However, this post was a self-serving screed, full of mis-information, which certainly wouldn’t have been out of place on the editorial pages of Morgunblather. You might as well have condemned the legalization of beer, because that may well have an even stronger correlation to the half-facts you stated.

    If I could paraphrase your rant, “everything used to be so much better when I was younger”. While that may or may not be true, that does seem to be a complaint we all make as we get older. Without being too fatalistic about it, things do change over time. Crime rates have grown in certain areas in modern Iceland. It still remains debatable whether those increases are strictly due to local social policies. One has to remember, correlation does not imply causation (assuming that the correlations cited even exist).

    PS. I still look forward to your next post very much. Everyone is entitled to rant now and again.

  • alda April 6, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Wow, touchy. You wouldn’t be a shareholder in Cafe Oliver by any chance?

    And clearly the misinformation is not too severe, seeing as many commenters have had exactly the same experience as the one I describe.

  • Albert April 6, 2010, 1:50 pm

    Ha!!! Count me amongst those who’d put Cafe Oliver in numerous circles of hell. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lost a jacket to late night Reykjavík, which I attribute to my own stupidity and naïveté. As I see it, the comments from Max and Veerle are the most insightful. In their words, Reykjavík is now like the rest of Europe. Modernization to be like the rest of Europe has been a goal for the past several years (decades, even). Unfortunately, that has brought both good and bad to modern Iceland.

    I may have been too circumspect in declaring misinformation. I largely was referring to the comments implying recent drug usage problems are directly attributable to bar opening hours. There also was an implication that stolen jackets relate to these later hours. To me, these are post hoc fallacies, and it is very difficult in these circumstances to determine the exact cause(s) and effect(s). If anything, drug crime rates were increasing prior to the extended bar hours in 1999, and they may well have decreased over the past couple of years (though the bar opening hours have not changed; see http://www.statice.is for numbers).

    It was the post hoc fallacies which got under my skin. You are usually better than to do that, which I mean as a complement. I don’t find myself downtown late very often these days, and when I do I keep my valuable close to my skin. So, my experience could still be considered the same as other commenters.

  • Nancy April 6, 2010, 2:06 pm

    I must defend the blog I love – there was nothing self-serving, “screedy”, or mis-informative about this post!!! I had no idea about the theft problem and I’m sure many travelers appreciate the information. Would be nice if the patrons requested that these places get security cameras, and then report the thefts that occur. If there was evidence of theft and police involvement, this type of crime would decrease. Hope it happens. Sorry that AAH was targeted again!

  • Michael Lewis April 6, 2010, 3:21 pm

    I thought it informative post. I’m off to Iceland for a fly fishing trip in late July, planning on having two days either side in the capital. It has made me think: for one thing, I’m not so sure its the place to bring my wife and 3yr old son. The other, the fact that its like London or other European city is neither here nor there – I have the a lot of sympathy for Alda’s daughter. Just who thinks its ok to steal from a youngster ?(I assume is still at school or whatever) that is unlikely to be flush with cash themselves. It is deplorable.
    Contrast with a colleague of mine, having a meal with his family in Singapore – his wife left her handbag at the table – which was outside the restaurant – on a pavement area. Two hours later, they return – handbag untouched. If it never used to be like this in Europe, why are we so happy for social standards to degrade?

  • TomThumb April 6, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Thanks for the warning. If I was to set up a public gallery for the peace vigil paintings, just a small space, would day time hours for viewing be any safer than evening hours? I am guessing that the space would be nothing but lights, paintings and their descriptions, and the entrance and exits! I am sorry that she had to go through that awful experience over and over.

  • Michael Lewis April 6, 2010, 4:04 pm

    It could be worse, this is London today:


    A woman raped whilst having a cigarette outside of a restaurant. Honestly, only when we start hanging these people will we see the trend decline, in my opinion.

    I have to say, and some will accuse me of jumping the gun here, but Iceland having control over its borders is a big plus in fighting crime.

  • Kevin April 6, 2010, 4:15 pm

    Alda, another word of support 😉 I love your writing, and thanks so much for offering what I think is the best (admittedly one of few) English-language sources for we foreigners living in Iceland.

    Despite the idiocy, nay, because of it, I do love nightlife here. I lived in NYC before this–and in New York you don’t get to see girls dressed to kill climbing TREES on the main drag, screeching and tossing empty bottles at their boyfriends, just for the heck of it… while in the background someone is rolling their buddies down the hill in a Bonus shopping cart. Perhaps this isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but I love it. But I digress.

    I think that many coat-snatchings are unfortunate mistakes. One (or more) drunk person leaves with the wrong black jacket (because everyone in Iceland wears black jackets on the weekend)! Then there is some percentage of the others, who might on warmer nights accept the loss, end up sneaking off with someone else’s coat that fits.

    I don’t believe humanity is gripped by a steady moral decay, and I certainly didn’t feel that Alda was implying that. As for me, sometimes I wish Icelanders didn’t push so much, and I hope to see the coat check industry blossom in Reykjavik! But aside from that… see you next weekend!!

  • alda April 6, 2010, 4:49 pm

    Nancy, Kevin – thank you so much. 🙂

    TomThumb – please don’t misunderstand — it’s not like it’s complete mayhem from sunset until sunrise (does not apply in summertime, heheh). The kind of nightlife we’re referring to here mostly happens between 2 and 6 am. All other hours are perfectly safe. That said, a lot of windows get broken during the night downtown — but that would presumably be the problem of the gallery owner, not yours.

    Michael – thanks for the words of support. As for Iceland having control of its borders — um, not so much. We’re a part of Schengen, so anyone within the Schengen area can travel here freely.

  • JH April 6, 2010, 5:25 pm

    I visited Iceland over the easter holidays and was kind of surprised to see so many broken windows on Laugarvegur. Now, after reading your blog post it fits into the picture. It’s sad that there always seem to be some people who are unable to have fun without stealing or damaging stuff – and it’s sad that this problem seems to have reached Iceland , too, now.
    Lucky for me that I’m not into nightlife so much, so I guess I can continue to travel to Iceland and feel perfectly safe.
    The volcano was incredible btw. – the view from the helicopter, the view from around Fljótshlið at night as well as the view from Valahnúkur at Þorsmörk (unfortunately only at daytime because the bus back left at 4 pm). Thank you so much for the hints about taking a tripod and binoculars!

  • The Fred from the forums April 6, 2010, 5:33 pm

    This hurts to read about even though I’m not affected. On my all too brief trip to Iceland, one difference from the US that I noticed was that the pay phones still had phone books even though the phone books weren’t chained down. I want to believe that there are places on earth where people don’t automatically steal things.

    Is Iceland small enough that a crime wave could be caused by only a handful of people?

    Sociologists sometimes do experiments where they drop a statistical sample of wallets in public places and count how many are returned. Has anyone heard of that being studied in Iceland?

  • sylvia hikins April 6, 2010, 6:14 pm

    When I was recently in Reykjavik I drove out to Seltjarnes after dark in the hope of seeing the Aurora. The only other couple of cars out there were occupied by teenagers smoking dope, drinking beer and chucking the cans out of the window. So I’m wondering -is there a dope taking/ binge drinking scene with Iceland’s teenagers? (There certainly is one in the UK) And if yes, is anything being done about it? I was at Seltjarnes about midnight and I didn’t feel threatened- although I did not get out of the car and had the door locked. Similarly, I was asked by addicts around the bus station for money. It’s so sad to see young lives so wasted.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Joerg April 6, 2010, 6:28 pm

    On a clear evening last November, I took my full camera equipment with me from my hotel room and walked through Reykjavik downtown, taking pictures of the nightly city lights until well past midnight. I wouldn’t have done so in most other bigger cities but in Reykjavik there has never been a moment of feeling uneasy about it (ok, it was midweek). And the bright summer nights, even on noisy weekends, make me feel anything but unsafe. Maybe, it’s a biased perception, but I wouldn’t advocate issuing security warnings at all.

    Iceland is actually quite lucky to have so high prices on alcoholic beverages. It prevents people travelling there for the sole purpose of binge drinking. Compared to many other European cities (particularly those having a lowcost airline connection with – sorry to say – the UK), Reykjavik’s nightlife is rather harmless.

    I hope, those cases of theft can be avoided by taking appropriate measures and precautions in the future.

  • María April 6, 2010, 6:29 pm

    Things seem to be pretty much the same everywhere. It all keeps getting worse and worse with people’s behaviour. It’s like nothing matters anymore. *sigh*
    But I must admit that the wildest stories about nightlife’s dangers come from my friend who lives in Reykjavík.. Geeee…

  • idunn April 6, 2010, 6:30 pm

    Condolences on the faux biker jacket.

    I’ve known places where people do not lock their doors, or if forgetting to were not particularly upset. The kind of place where strangers are just as likely to smile, or help one if in need. Just yesterday a fellow helped me shovel out my car, just offered to out of nowhere. These are also the kind of places where news of the world if sad is out there, somewhere beyond, seemingly seldom touching one’s own home.

    People sometimes discuss the merits of different places, in saying someplace isn’t all the bad, no worse than anywhere else, nowhere as bad as the worst. As if one could never expect better, but they simply do not understand what is possible.

    I find this story of missing coats and personal items regrettable, in having thought Iceland perhaps better. But such behavior may not be confined to nightclubs, in at least some of its bankers having exhibited similar traits. On the other hand, I still recall with pleasure the stories and pictures of mothers who feel safe enough to leave their babies briefly outside shops in their strollers.

  • María April 6, 2010, 6:39 pm

    PS.. another friend of mine who spent last summer in Reykjavík said Laugavegur early in the morning on a Sunday was like The Night of Broken Glass. I guess he wasn’t exaggerating!

  • María April 6, 2010, 6:43 pm

    PS 2.. Although I never felt any weirdness myself while I was there in summer two years ago, probably because the only place you could find me early in the morning was either my bed at our Ellidavatn hotel or having a bite while watching the sky near Grótta.

  • James April 6, 2010, 7:34 pm

    Just like going out in central London…

  • bun April 6, 2010, 8:16 pm

    Wow, sorry to hear about the jacket…!! (and it was a pretty cute one btw, poor AAH..)

    I’m not so sure that bars opening till late is the indirect cause of these problems. Well, at least from my experience, that is not the case. I’m currently living in Hamburg, and as some of you might know, the Reeperbahn (or ” die sündige Meile” = the “sinful mile”) is the place to go for a night out. It is, of course, full of bars, discos, restaurants, sex shops and fast food joints, all concentrated in just a handful of streets. They are also open till pretty late (some of them till 9-10 am 😉 ) and, in over 4 years, I’ve never had anything stolen in there. Granted, some clubs do have cloakrooms, but smaller bars don’t, so you just leave your stuff on a chair, and I can guarantee you, it will be right there when you come back.

    In fact, I think the Reeperbahn is quite peaceful, considering how many people go there and how drunk they get. Even taking the U-bahn or S-bahn is actually a quite civilised thing, the drunks do their best not to bother you at all. You’ve got to give it to the Germans, even while drunk they are all proper and respectful! 🙂

    And a last thing, I disagree on blaming the victim for not being careful enough with his/her stuff. These things should not be happening at all! Especially if you are at a bar with security or bouncers at the door. You should be allowed to go dance and have a good time without worrying if your stuff will be there by the time you are back to your seat. Dunno, for me it is part of a good costumer service; the least a place can do is to offer you security while you are using their services (and yes, that includes denying you more alcohol if you are already hammered)

    Just my 2 cents!

  • Angel April 7, 2010, 1:55 am


    Reykjavik is not different than any other city in the world, I think it is just Icelanders seem to think it is OK to leave their coat on their seat while they go out dancing. It is just not OK and pretty much everyone knows that unless they have at least one person who is to sit and watch over all the belongings you can pretty much kiss some of your belongings goodbye.

    Sorry to hear about AAH’s stuff being stolen from behind the bar, it just seems like too much and seemingly a safe place to leave ones things. Some people just do not give a crap.

    I have been here for over 20 years and the same stuff was happening when I first came here, so not much has changed with exception of an increase in violent crimes. There has always been 3 a.m fights..usually between two guys and there were fists flying. Now people are carrying knives and it is not just one on one..it is 3 or more on one. Even the girls fighting back in the day were not so crazy..it was a lot of hair pulling and most of the time was stopped by others right away. That does not seem to be the case these day.

    My daughter and her friends were downtown the weekend before Easter having a good time at a night club. A girl walked into the nightclub and started a fight with her ex-boyfriend who was among my daughters friends. When my daughter and her friend tried to ask this girl to leave him and them alone she attacked my daughters friend. The fight was stopped by the ‘bouncer’ of the club and the girl was removed. Not too long after that she came back with two of her girlfriends and a man and a fight ensued outside of the club.

    My daughter was attacked by one of the girls because she asked the original girl to leave them alone, when she defended herself the man (who also happened to be the boyfriend of the attacker) grabbed my daughter and beat her, breaking her nose. When she hit the ground she then continued to be kicked in the head and body by the three girls who were standing by. He then continued to beat my daughters girlfriend who was with them, she lost consciousness.

    The man involved is 26 and a bodybuilder; built like a truck! My daughter is 20 and hardly competition for him. The girls were minors and I believe harder to charge them.

    This man has told people if we press charges he will come after our family. He does not scare me and both girls have pressed charges. I am going to speak to a lawyer tomorrow to ensure I can do everything within the law to make him pay for beating my daughter .
    Wild, wild west is right! My only fear now is that he will be slapped on the wrist and walk away as all the prisons seem to be full.

  • RLJ April 7, 2010, 10:15 am

    I’m not sure what borders have to do with it. What Alda is describing is predmoninantly amongst Icelanders. I suspect even the coat stealing is girls who have come in with no jacket, think it has become a bit chilly out, so pick up the first one they see. Foreigners all wear jackets (and hats!) here, even in July!

    Any indication that the attacker in London was foreign? Or is it the victim’s fault because she was foreign?

  • alda April 7, 2010, 11:14 am

    Angel – that is HORRIBLE! Your poor, poor daughter – and her friend. Of course one of my first thoughts was that at least AAH was OK, i.e. not physically hurt. Because I know the situation you describe is all too common. That’s what I told her — but of course it was not what she wanted to hear at that moment!

    I hope your daughter and her friend recover soon, although I know the psychological wounds take much longer to heal than the physical ones. I also hope that you are able to pursue some kind of justice against the perpetrators. Good for you for not allowing yourself to be intimidated!

    Would you feel comfortable sharing which bar this was in?

  • Angel April 7, 2010, 11:57 am


    The nightclub there were in was Jacobsen downtown. Luckily one of the bouncers at Jacobsen had gone with the girls to the Police station when they were pressing charges to be a witness. There were several other witnesses to the attack as well. Sadly some actually just watched while this man beat my daughter and her friend. I suppose they were just frightened.

    We have been in contact with a lawyer as of this morning and have an appointment next week. I know my daughter is a pretty tough girl and I am sure she will be fine once the ‘Avatar’ look she is supporting subsides. I am going to do whatever I can to make sure this man pays for what he did to those girls. I just hope the law is on our side.

  • Peter - London April 7, 2010, 3:42 pm

    “In their words, Reykjavík is now like the rest of Europe. ”

    It doesn’t sound like it. I have had one jacket stole in twenty years of going out in London, most people would get robbed once in their lifetimes in London. Getting clothes stolen on a regular basis is not normal in most western European cities.
    Not at all normal.

  • Sam April 7, 2010, 4:05 pm

    I seem to remember Hresso having a coatcheck. It is, however, ground zero of the Reykjavik Zombocalypse.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland April 7, 2010, 7:16 pm

    Thanks for that tip Alda, must not leave my 64gb iPad at the bar when I have to take a leak:), seriously commiserations to AAH and obviously the thing is wear everything and forget the handbag leave it at home.

  • hildigunnur April 8, 2010, 11:12 am

    The Fred, yes those experiments have been done here and we came up as pretty honorable – but I suspect the experiments weren’t done late night at the bars…

    Really sorry to hear about this, both AAH’s unfortunate losses but especially Angel’s daughter! Wasn’t that on the news?

  • Kris April 9, 2010, 6:14 am

    Back in the day circa 1980, Hotel Borg was the rage. Drunken fishermen in $1000 suits would brawl on the dance floor and people would ignore them until the bouncers came. Downtown was the same. Lots of angry drunks and belligerents downtown. Last time I was there, 10 years ago me and my sister hit the town and had a blast. We even hug with the cool kids at Circus. No fire codes there! But, I have to say that going downtown to party both in 1980 and 2000 was fun fun fun. Always fun.
    Iceland, at least in comparison to any US city, is super safe. I lived in one place where I took a baseball bat with me to walk my girlfriend to her car after dark.
    Watch out for those post hock fallacies. They’ll get you every time!

  • Tom Harper April 9, 2010, 3:51 pm

    I know this post is a bit old, but I’ve been out of intarwebs touch, so I’m going to leave my 2 kr =)

    I felt super safe in Iceland the whole time I was there, and was constantly surprised at feeling this way. That being said, I would never leave anything at a table at a bar/club late at night. What AAH did sounds really sensible to me, and it sounds to me like she had a run of really bad luck.

    I don’t think that safety and respect in Iceland is suddenly in a downward spiral of doom. I do know that Icelanders have a growing tradition of getting completely wastedface when they drink and also getting crazy when they do so. When someone is surrounded by a bunch of equally drunk people, they encourage each other even more. The people that steal this stuff probably do it for a laugh. They would never do it in the light of day, and if it were done to them would be shocked and indignant. For some people, alcohol becomes an excuse to throw impulse control out the window. I don’t know what Iceland can do to curb this growing social phenomenon, but hopefully it can be stopped somehow.

  • Neil April 9, 2010, 10:21 pm

    My 2 cents as well… I had a lot of fun when I was in RVK 3 times about 6 years ago. It was fun, and as long as you do not get too scared to see some guy running around without his pants on, then nothing bad ever happened.

    Now, I remember that 5 years ago, in most clubs and in the streets the average age was relatively low in comparison to other cities I have lived in, like London or Munich – I was almost always the oldest guy around (I was 35). What is the situation like in these days?

  • Jim April 10, 2010, 2:11 am

    Good post Alda and by the reaction in the comments section it would appear that this has struck a nerve with the readers!

    From my own experience as a foreigner living in Reykjavík I have to say that all in all, I have never felt safer in a city, even after dark. However, the coat thing is indeed a true nightmare and it really does depend on where you are.

    I have had coats stolen in Jacobsen not one, not two but THREE times! Admittedly, I was always a bit worse for wear by the end of the night, but the coat was never there at the end. I would go and ask the next morning and look through the (huge) pile of coats left from the night before and mine was never found.

    Now here’s the thing and it definitely alludes to what you mentioned in your original post, that Oliver and bars of that ilk (Jacobsen) are hot spots of coat theft. I would definitely agree with that assertion, as I have many a time left my coat on a seat in a smaller, grungier bar and never had a problem with “walking” coats apart from one time. I was completely sober and my coat was not where it was left, I asked a friend behind the bar and it hadn’t been returned. I returned the next day and there was still no sign of it. Later in the week I went in to meet somebody and on the off chance asked about the coat again. Remarkably, there it was in it’s filthy, beer-stained glory! A drunken punter had taken it home thinking it was their own until they realised the next morning what they had done. They done the honourable thing and returned it to the bar with apologies and I ended up a few thousand krónur better off because I didn’t have to buy a new one!

    So yeah, there’s my anecdote. Sometimes I know that coats are simply stolen in downtown Rvk, depending on the clientele bar of course. I do, however, think that a large proportion of these is due to drunken folk just picking up the wrong coat!

  • KarlP April 12, 2010, 2:18 pm

    I think Jim’s on it. If you go back to a bar looking for your jacket, you’ll see a MASSIVE pile of (some quite fancy) jackets that haven’t been claimed. Someone gets the wrong one, someone else gets the wrong one, and someone at the end of the chain is looking at a jacket that’s not even close to the one they have.

    I’ve never permanently lost a jacket, only temporarily, but I think I’ve lost 5, maybe 6 towels at the pools. Goddamn warm water junkies. The expansion in services with all the new pools across the entire TOWN has led to a WAVE of crime, making it impossible for me to feel comfortable at any of the pools. I just never know if my towel will be there when I get back.