Forspill, which directly translates to “foreplay”, is an uniquely Norwegian tradition. It is a party in someone’s home before heading out to the bars. The reason for forspill is easy to understand. At 70 Kroners (13 dollars) a beer, getting drunk in a bar could be financially ruinous. Particularly if you have a healthy liver. With a forespill, you get your blood alcohol level up to the right level — get yourself in the mood so to speak — so that you can maintain it, in an equilibrium, with a few drinks at the bar without breaking the bank.
Another curious tradition is that a forspill is BYOB. You bring your own booze — typically beer — and stick to drinking your own stuff. When forspill is over, you take your own leftovers with you. In other words, the host of a forspill is not obliged to serve the guests anything. Maybe some potato chips. This is probably also a result of high alcohol prices. When I first came to Rødøy, I saw beer at the general store. The price says 29 Kroners, which is about 5 dollars. I thought – umm, not bad for a six pack. About US prices. Until I learned that it is for a single can of beer. So again, if 20 people come to your forespill and you’re obliged to get everyone liquored up — and everyone is very thirsty — that could be financially ruinous.
The bars, then, are about socializing for the happy. For the unexpected encounters with people you don’t know. Thus the act of “getting drunk” and the act of “being drunk” are assigned to separate venues. Then, for the true party animals, there is nachspille, the “After-play”. At that point, who pays for what becomes less of an issue. People are too drunk to care.