Night Water Cooler: When does "late night" begin?

A question with no right answer, but plenty of wrong ones

Night Water Cooler: When does "late night" begin?
Photo: Pedro Carballo

A few weeks ago, 300th Night Water subscriber Alyssa Dempsey texted me to ask, “When does late night begin?”

To me, late night begins at 11 p.m., wherever you are. This is likely influenced by late night television programming—variety shows, newscasts, Nick at Nite, etc.—which have traditionally aired in that 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. block. That’s why this newsletter comes out at 11 p.m.—something to read on your phone instead of watching Carpool Karaoke.

But your opinion on “late night” may vary, and have a major impact on your conception of “late night vibes.” So here I am in your inbox to ask—when does late night begin?

This Night Water Cooler is a relic from Night Water's days on Substack, and the original comments are stuck over there. Luckily, copy and paste exists. Here's a selection of late night start times from the original thread:

Late night is 11pm on weekdays but 11:30pm on weekends
- Alyssa
Great question. 5:00 is early evening, 8:00 starts nite, 12:00 midnight so 1:00 becomes my late night. But I’m usually sleeping by 10:30 so few late nights for me.
- Niki
When late night begins is influenced by when you have to get up in the morning. When I had to get up at 5:30 am, late night was 9:30😂🤣
- Laurel
yes, came here to say late night begins when the negotiations with your tomorrow self begin (e.g., "If I play just one more match, I'll still get x hours of sleep and that morning meeting is not that important anyway...")
- sissyneck
I think late night is when the streets get quiet, and the only people that are out are those that are going home from the bar or are on their way to drunk pizza. In some neighborhoods this can have as early as 10 PM, but in others may not begin until midnight or 1 PM. Based on where I live I would say that this begins around midnight on weekdays and 1 AM on weekends.
- DJ Tommy B