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You want to drink the finest spirits, hang with your friends, listen to good music and talk to pretty women. The only way to do all these things is to experience the nightlife in your area. But the bar and club scene is rife with hazards. Stick to these golden rules and you just might make it out alive. And have a hell of an evening, too.

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When the girls start to leave the club, it’s time for you to leave the club. Seriously, what good is a drunken sausage fest?

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1. Live in the middle
Never be the drunkest or sober-est guy entering or leaving the bar. Unless you’re a designated driver, going super-sober makes it tough to relax. Meanwhile, getting super-drunk means being the guy who acts like an idiot, pukes on a car and wakes up the next morning feeling like utter crap. So stay cool, have a few drinks, get a good buzz on and enjoy yourself. Having trouble finding the middle? It’s the space where you aren’t afraid to dance but can still assemble coherent sentences.

Smoothly living in the middle. And thankfully, Malcolm is nowhere in sight.

2. Know when to call it a night
To quote How I Met Your Mother, “Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” As soon as the girls start to leave the club, it’s time for you to leave the club. Seriously, what good is a drunken sausage fest? The amount of fights skyrockets after the females clear out. And even if you don’t end up getting in a scrap, your best prospect for the 3 a.m. is that McDonald’s has added the 20-piece chicken nuggets to the extra value menu.

3. Plan a spot to snooze
If you don’t live downtown, make arrangements to sleep at someone’s house in the area. Make these plans before you get intoxicated. There are few things more nervewracking than trying to find a place to crash when the night wraps up. And it usually ends with you curling up on a dirty floor with your jacket as a pillow and your shirt as a blanket.

4. Be prepared
One-night stands don’t happen every week, but when fate smiles on you, you had better be following the Boy Scout motto. Carry two condoms when you go to the bar (one may break, and if you carry more it’s weird). We recommend Billy Boy, which has slim, rectangular shaped packaging, allowing it to slip easily into the fifth pocket of your jeans rather than fattening up your wallet.

“Oh, you guys are heading out? Good thing we brought the minivan.”

5. When things go south, roll with it
Your best memories of nights out will sometimes come when ridiculously good things happen… and sometimes when ridiculously bad things happen. If you wake up in a bush three hours after last call, it may suck at the time, but chances are you and your buddies will laugh about it for weeks. You can’t change what has happened so go with the flow, keep a smile on your face and deal with the consequences tomorrow.