March 15, 2009

A Surprising Syrian Nightclub Experience
Aleppo, Syria

The nail in the coffin for my liver came with last night's surprising experience at a Syrian nightclub. White opened last year as the very first of club of it's kind in this, the second largest city in the country.

When my host said "Syrian disco" to me on my first night in town, the image that flashed into my head was that of Islamic women wearing headscarves, dancing (maybe bobbing back and forth at best) in small tight circles with other women, in a completely sober environment.

Ah, this image was before I learned what a strong percentage of the inhabitants of Aleppo are alcoholic Christians… Seemingly the only kind of Christian found in these parts.

But I was still skeptical, and even less than enthusiastic about the notion of an exorbitant 1,000 Syrian pound cover charge (US$21) after I'd already been doin' it up for so many consecutive nights since my arrival.

During the little pre-party we were having at the flat of Christophe's Turkish/Syrian buddy, Kemal, my generous host and his young French boss (also with us that evening) ultimately said they'd be happy to cover my admission if that's what it'd take to get me to come along.

I couldn't refuse.

Kemal gave me one of his button-up shirts and off we went, two taxi's full of French, Americans and a Turkish/Syrian.

Now White isn't the kind of place where you just show up and expect to get in. You've got to know someone, and that someone needs to put your name and group size on the list several days in advance.

That's because White is small, and only does table-service. The entire space is about the same size as a typical American dance floor, DJ included.

There are some tables with couches (where we were positioned), but the bulk of the occupants were at small square tables on barstools.

So what does $21/head and a reservation for a large group in Syrian disco buy you? An attentive waiter and all-you-can-drink vodka/mixers, that's what. There were other things, like shots with sparklers (seemed to be the fiery gimmick of the club), and probably other booze, but I don't recall drinking anything other.

The music was pretty good, with the DJ offering up a mixture of Arabic dance and your standard rotation of RnB/Top-40 nightclub hits.

But as far as going there are meeting people, or picking up women? This is certainly not the environment for such things. People are at their tables, and pretty much stay there. Men bring women, and women don't go there without men.

Probably one of the more interesting things I observed was the complete gender reversal of what I usually call the 'pooty platform' (where little miss I'm going to stand on a high surface so people pay attention to me does her thing).

At White, it was the men on a pedestal.

I Scarcely Remember Taking These…

Fire and Shots at White

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