on February 3, 2005
Beirut is the thumping heart of Middle Eastern nightlife, and BO18 is the center of this chaotic scene. Located in a makeshift bunker in the middle of an abandoned parking lot 2m north of central Beirut, BO18 has come to symbolize everything Beirutis want their city to be. Any Beiruti will brag to you about how BO18 is the equivalent of any club in New York, London, or Berlin, both in terms of style and hedonism. A trip to BO18 is a must for any young and wild visitor who wants to experience Beirut lifestyle to the fullest.The club itself, although it opens at 9pm, doesn’t even get started until about 1am, and if you show up at 1am, don’t be surprised if you are the only one there. Beirut’s most fashionable won’t even show up until 2am, and the club will only hit full swing around 3am. Thus, if you are going to include BO18 in your late-night plans, it is best to start your evening elsewhere. A typical Beirut night out will start with a fancy late dinner (i.e. 10pm) at any number of elegant restaurants in Achrafiye. From there, many Beiruits will flock to the BCD and Place d’Étoile for a few beers, arak, and argileh at any number of the outdoor cafés where they can see and be seen.Arriving at the club at about 2am, you are sure to find a line outside of the tunnel leading into the club. Whether or not you pay a cover charge depends on a few things: 1) How you are dressed (the fancier, the better), 2) How foreign you look (foreigners often get in easier), and 3) how many women you have with you (this is the most important. Often single men will not be let in, so unless you have a lady on your arm, be prepared to wait and to pay).Once inside, the club is not terribly large, but it is designed much in the style you would have imagined Hitler’s bunker to look like, completely dark and with no real dance floor. Instead of a dance floor, what you actually have is a bunch of benches that fold down and turn into tables for dancing. Nobody dances on the floor, all dancing is done atop of these benches.As the night goes on, the techno music pumps louder, and you will be forgiven for thinking that you really are in London and not Beirut. With the amount of alcohol flowing, the short skirts, and the wild dancing, it isn’t exactly what most people imagine Lebanon to be.The climax of the whole evening comes when the sun starts to rise. As the sun rises, the roof of the bunker opens, letting in the golden rays of sunshine and illuminating the whole crowd of dancers. The experience is quite surreal and has to be experienced to believed. If you are planning on a night at BO18, don’t plan anything early the next day. You won’t make it.
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