The time is 6 in the morning, and we’ve found ourselves stranded in a nameless hillside outpost, a far cry away from the beaches that south Portugal is famous for. Here, in the middle of nowhere, is a weekly pizza party organised by a group of nomads, and we’ve reached the end of the festivities. Let’s take it from the top.
The time is now 10pm, the night before, and after a 30-minute uber ride we have arrived from our hostel in sunny Lagos to an infamous party location in Tojeiro. This is ‘Pizza Night Algarve’, an every-Friday hippy retreat home to three tiers of DJ-sets, implausibly attractive staff members, and the infamous pizza. We arrive just in time for the pizza.
The night is a series of cycles: drink, boogie, go off to dance with other people, lose your friends, find your friends. Over and over. Try each DJ set; realise the bottom tier, in the biggest tent, surrounded by the most people, plays the best music. Ignore the fact that it’s one giant hotbox. Rest on a haystack, take a deep breath, dance again. Look up at the blanket of stars to remind yourself that you’re surrounded by complete and utter wilderness. Portugal isn’t meant to be like this: it’s meant to be cities, beaches, and garlic.
I stumble out of the third dancefloor to take another rest. A hostel mate takes a sip of a drink he insists is a local hallucinogenic—the event’s specialty beverage. I look it up: it’s a type of medicine to relieve spinal pain. Later, exhausted, I try to nap on an old sofa with house music blaring in one ear and the sound of an American girl struggling through a bad trip in the other. In the moment, at 4 in the morning, I can’t wait to leave.
But that’s in the moment. At 6 in the morning, once the party has ended but there aren’t enough uber drivers on the road to pick us up, I wish the party lasted a little longer. In the end, a taxi arrives to save the day (or very early morning), and only one of us has to hitchhike back to Lagos (sorry Sebas!). We stagger back into our dorm room and collapse onto our beds. After the highs (and highs) of the preceding night, a stay in one of south Portugal’s most idyllic beach towns suddenly feels less special.
‘Pizza Night Algarve’ runs in a mountainous campsite in Tojeiro every Friday. If you refer to your destination as ‘Pizza Night’, your uber or taxi driver will know where to take you. The party runs from 6pm in the evening to at least 5am in the morning. Spot a phone number scribbled in paint on the side of a tree to (hope to) find a taxi back. Otherwise, hitchhiking is your best bet.