My Worst Party Foul: Hitching a Ride on an Ambulance in Sao Paulo

The first and only time I’ve been on an ambulance was on a hot winter night (mid June in the southern hemisphere) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at a big club called The Week.

The Week is usually a gay club, but that particular night a big name Brazilian DJ was coming to play, and the club was brimming with people coming to see him. I was one of them! After “discovering” the deep and bass-y sounds of Alok in Green Valley a couple weeks back, I decided I couldn’t miss his show in Sao Paulo.

Alok at Green Valley, the #1 Club in the world according to DJ Mag a couple years in a row.

The line to the club was long but we didn’t despair. I went with my Brazilian friend Claudia and my NYC friend who was visiting, Billy. Eventually we got in by some slightly aggressive tactics pushing ahead in line. A couple other friends were going to come, but they accidentally bought some tickets from scammy scalpers in line. Well, the tickets were valid except they were valid for women, and my friends were two guys. Oops. So then they gave up and went home.

The Week was quite a cool club! It had two big rooms – one playing Brazilian music and the other playing electronic music, which was pretty typical in Brazil. Then there was a smaller outdoor stage, and even a pool (that you can’t go into).

Ran into Deborah, who I had met in Ciudad del Este en Uruguay a couple months back. And that’s Billy on the right!

I ran into a friend of mine at The Week and the drinks were nice and strong, so I was at my happy place. By the time Alok came on, probably around 2 or 3 AM, I was already very pumped up!

Wearing heels didn’t stop me from dancing and jumping around. Claudia had gone home at some point, but that didn’t stop my party mood. Around 5am, Billy and I pushed to the front of the stage and continued raging:

(I guess I like to shriek when excited)

After hours of abuse, the floor of the club was trashed. There were even broken beer bottles carelessly thrown to the floor, then pushed to the side. Whatever. I kept on dancing and as I jumped up and down to the beat, I feel a bit of a pinch on the arch of my right foot. It appears that I jumped up and onto a piece of broken glass as I was coming down, at the force of my whole weight.

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Alcohol is great anesthesia, and I didn’t want the night to end, so I just kept on dancing. However, the gushing blood was starting to impair my movement as it made my shoe slippery and hard to dance on. Reluctantly, I told Billy “I’ll be right back” and headed to the bathroom to wipe the blood off my foot.

I slinked off to the toilet and tried to put water on my foot to wash the blood off. Unfortunately the blood continued to gush out. Unfazed and undeterred, I decided to return to the dance floor anyway.

As I was leaving the restroom, a girl looked at me up and down and exclaimed, “moça, seu pé tá sangrando!” (“girl, your foot is bleeding!”)

“Não é nada!” (“it’s nothing!”) – I said to her.

I tried to walk away, but the girl stopped me and told her friend to call someone. Sitting up on top of the sink, my foot continued to bleed over paper towels. Very quickly medical staff appeared (wow, surprising Brazilian efficiency!). They said they needed to take me to the medical station, and put me on a wheelchair.

Thus commenced my trip on the wheelchair from one end of the very large club to the other end of it. I was pulled by the foot (I guess they needed to keep my foot propped up). The whole club was staring at me. Billy ran along my side.

I arrived at the first aid station (actually really impressed they had a nurse station at a club) and the nurse inspected my foot. She cleaned the wound and made sure there were no glass shards in it. Then she taped a gauze over my foot.

“Ok,” she said, “Your wound is clean and there’s no glass in it. But as the gash is quite big and needs stitches to heal properly. So you should go on the ambulance and go to the hospital.”

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Even though I was drunk, the American in me heard the word “hospital” and immediately saw dollar signs. Who knows what my cheap travel insurance actually covers.

“I don’t have health insurance! It’s not possible for me to pay for an ambulance and a hospital!” I moaned, “Can you just sew it up for me pleeeease?”

The kind nurse said, “I would do it for you, but I don’t have a needle here. Don’t worry, the hospital and ambulance are free!”

Hearing the words free but still kind of dubious, I reluctantly allowed them to call me an ambulance.

The ambulance came in what seemed like two seconds. Me and Billy were ushered into the ambulance. The ambulance turned on its sirens and sped through Sao Paulo towards the hospital. Starting to feel and act drunk again, I looked around the ambulance and observed that all the equipment were in yellow, blue, and green bags. With the World Cup on my mind (it was right in the middle of the World Cup 2014, where Brazil was the host), I smartly observed to the EMT, “Wow, são cores do Brasil!” (“Wow, these are Brazil colors!”)

I thought I was being funny but the EMT looked at me like I was retarded. Fair enough.

We got to the hospital, which was quite run-down looking (I guess because it’s free), and I received a wristband as I checked in.

I sat down and waited for the doctor. There were about 10 other Brazilian patients in the room – who knows what they did tonight that landed them in the emergency room. We waited for probably around an hour, it was 7am and Billy had already laid down on the benches to sleep as we waited.

Waiting waiting at 7am. Billy passed out already

The more I waited the more fidgety I got. Finally, I stood up and woke Billy up. “Billy, I don’t want stitches and I don’t want to wait. We’re going home!”

“Are you sure?!” Billy said.

“Yes!!!” I said.

We marched out of the emergency room. Instantly, the nurse yelled for me to wait. I braced myself and prepared to defend my decision. The nurse asked, “Are you leaving?”

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“Yes I am!!!” I said confidently (And there’s nothing you can do to stop me!).

“Ok, give me back your wristband then.” She said nonchalantly.

We got on the taxi, I got back to Claudia’s house where she was already asleep. I crept into her room onto my air mattress and fell fast asleep.

When I woke up, sober but with a hangover, I was mortified. Did I really just step on glass in a club, wheel through a club on a wheelchair, take an ambulance to the hospital, and walk out without getting treatment?! I went to change my gauze and disinfect my wound. I could barely look at the large gash in my foot, I am not good with blood.

In moments of panic I did what I always do to assuage my fears: consult Google: “What happens if you step on glass.”

Shit, the internet says that there’s chance of contracting tetanus! What the heck is that? I started to worry a lot the more I read. My Brazilian friend Paty said I should probably go to the hospital and she could take me. I was reluctant about going but remembered that my Japo-Brazilian friend Hugo works across the street from Claudia’s house and was a sports doctor. I asked him for advice and he told me to come for him to check me out.

He inspected my wound and said that yes, it’s a big wound, but it’s healing up nicely (this was already a couple days after the incident). He said that I probably don’t need stitches anymore. “What about tetanus??” I exclaimed. “Tetanus? Very unlikely, it usually only is for people who step on rusted metal… Stop worrying!”

He switched my gauze, disinfected my wound once again, and sent me on my way.

3 years later, I still have a bump on the arch of my foot. But at least I still have a foot! And that’s the story of my worst party foul.

Sneaky Billy taking a selfie of my misery

Read about the other Party Fouls I’ve committed over the years.

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