There’s no denying the Valletta atmosphere has been completely made over in recent years, especially when it comes to nightlife. Whether you’re looking for a night at the movies or looking for the latest hideaway, here’s how life has changed since the sixties.
1. Clubs had some weird names back then
The Żejża Club was the place to meet. Then you made your way wherever it was that you were going. You could even grab a milkshake before you caught the bus – because this non-place was the dedicated van that sold dairy products, just outside City Gate.
These days, you’ll meet at a place with a less risqué name. Then again, there is no City Gate to meet outside of.
2. Hooking up was way more low-key
If you wanted to meet a boy or a girl, your best bet was to join a religious group like the Legion of Mary, Santu Rokku, or Żgħażagħ Antonjani. Then you could
have a legitimate excuse to take part in dramatic productions, go on hikes, plan trips to Gozo, do volunteer work, go swimming at taħt iż-żiemel or at il-Cable, and talk to boys in the street without the grapevine twisting itself into knots and tangles.
Nowadays, almost no one bats an eyelid if you plan a sleepover.
3. We had weird ways of saying things too
We used to phone and ask if someone was going out, only then we called it Tiela’. It roughly translates to “will you be walking miles up and down Strada Rjali this evening?” It was a done thing for cliques (even elite ones) to congregate on the main street to gossip and flirt, match-make and snog, or even borrow each other’s homework. It was cheap and cheerful.
Fastforward to 2017, there are more places to go, and more things to do; alas not all of which are in the City.
4. Movie-going meant risking unwanted guests
If you wanted to watch a film, you knew that there would probably be cockroaches watching it with and/or on you. If you had a tight budget, you could even smuggle in a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of frozen orange juice. If you wanted to see a dirty film, there was one specific place to go.
Who knew Netflix would be such a convenience now. A visit to the Embassy is always a treat though.
5. You had your go-to-guy for shopping sprees
If you wanted sweets, you’d go to Camilleri. Toni ta’ Cadena had delicious food. Muscat and Maistre had stationery. Balbi, Ellul, Caruana or Galdies had pots and pans and fajjenża. Baking and cooking stuff was from Queen’s, The Albion, or Wembley Stores. Danjieli had exotic stuff. Fresh hot bread was from tal-ħobża or Dalli.
But of course, Is-Suq was the one-stop-shop, if you did the rounds of Pawlu tal-Bajtri, the Tal-Vinċ brothers, Freddie ta’ Dedu or Tad-Derek butchers, Ġanni tal-Ħaxix, and Polly tal-Ħalib.
Today, you can kickback, relax with a glass of wine and order online. Or head over to your local supermarket.
6. There were no-go zones throughout the capital
Taking shortcuts by running through Auberges and The Palace, and racing one another around the block was par for the course. But ‘good’ teens never cut through that den of vices, Strait Street, lest the sight of Frankies or Marijas corrupted us. Except for the coast road, Valletta’s streets are all at right angles – so you couldn’t get lost unless you wanted to.
These days, with the advent of V18, Strait Street is being given a chic new lease of life; and running hell for leather along the streets is very difficult, anyway, given all the tables and chairs diners extend their floor areas with.