History of Istanbul
it is pretty bright !
But you' ve got to come and explore yourselves.
More famous for its historical sites and its carpets, most
visitors come to Istanbul not expecting to find much in the way of nightlife. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Istanbul's recent economic growth and increasing
prosperity had had enormous effect on the vitality, energy and variety of its nightlife.
The range of night entertainment is huge, from traditional male-dominated birahanes to
techno and rave nightclubs, with new venues opening by the week. As a result, Istanbul's
nightlife is quickly gaining recognition as one of the liveliest in Europe.
An authentic Turkish experience can be combined
with a racuous nights drinking at one of Turkey's meyhanes. These tavernas serve raki,
beer and wine, along with an awe-inspiring selection of mezes (starters), succulent kebabs
and fruits of the season. A favourite location for raki drinking, the atmosphere gets
louder and merrier as the night progresses, with clients often breaking into impromtu
renditions of Turkish classics. The most famous meyhanes in Istanbul are located in the
Cicek Pasaj in Beyoglu, a bustling passage whose many meyhanes are interspersed with
flower, fish and vegetable stalls, and where street musicians and vendors wander among the
revellers. Birahanes are more basic, with the beer taking precedence over the food.
Turkish women rarely enter birahanes. Although foreign women are tolerently expected to
break all the rules, and will usually be made feel welcome, it is advisable not to go to
such all-male preserves alone.
For those who want to see something more exotic,
many nightclubs offer "Oriental shows" with sequined bellydancers, troupes of
Russian or Romanian dancers, and flashy caberet singers. Most of these shows are quite
tame and sanitized, although the visitor should beware of the seedier style pavyon, where
the unsuspecting can be ripped off for an inordinate amount of money, in return for some
watered-down drinks and the dubious company of one of the girls who work there.
Fortunately, these joints are fairly obvious, advertising their services with neon lights
and photographs of scantily-clad girls, and its not difficult to avoid them. They appear
to be a dying species, being replaced in city centres by more profitable and fashionable
rock bars and cafes. If in doubt about the reputation of a place, clearly establish the
prices before ordering anything.
If the pavyons are not sufficiently tittilating
for your tastes, Turkey has thriving red light districts, where genelev (brothels) operate
legally under the control of the municipality. Certain hotels in the sleazier areas of
towns also act as unofficial pickup joints. In the past few years Western-style bars and
cafes have become the place to see and be seen. Opening hours are long; most bars stay
open until 2:00 am and some keep going until 4:00am or later. The most downmarket of these
are sawdust-on-the-floor style rock bars, where the beer is incredibly cheap, decoration
is minimal, and heavy metal and 70s rock is the order of the day. These are popular among
students, and the atmosphere is extremely lively, with lots of political discussion taking
place amidst the headbanging. The dress code for these bars is strictly grunge, with body
piercing, heavy metal t-shirts, and lots of hair. The oldest and most enduring of these is
Koprualti Kemanci, also known as Eski Kemanci, which began life as one of the hangouts
under the old wooden Galata bridge, but is now located in Taksim.
In the middle, there are numerous rock bars
offering live music, usually bands performing covers of popular rock classics from Pink
Flyod, The Who and Led Zepplin, alternating with the latest disco mixes. Prices in
Istanbul are usually a little less than other European cities, while in tourist resorts
competition means the prices are kept extremely low. In Istanbul try Kemanci, Hayal
Kavhesi and Mojo Blues Bar.
Alternative music is becoming more widely
available and popular in Turkey, and the newest clubs cater for fans of underground,
hardcore and drum and bass. For a more relaxed atmosphere, there are many late-opening
cafes serving great cappuchinos along with alcohol and playing everything from classical
to drum and bass. At the top end of the market are bars and clubs catering to the young
and upwardly mobile elite. These are superbly stylish, and concentrated mainly in
Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. In
Istanbul, the top discos have summer locations along the
Bosphorus, where you can enjoy the beautiful view while partying until the early hours.
Levent and Etiler are also recommended watering spots.
Gay nightlife is largely confined to
where many bars and clubs cater for the gay community. Açık Radyo has a gay programme
where you can find details of any special activities going on. Bilsak, Prive, Hans and
Club 14 are currently popular, and are all centrally located around Taksim. A word of
warning - always carry your passport or some equivalent ID when you go out.