Life & StyleSociety

Nightlife under curfew

The army-imposed curfew has changed many Egyptians' lifestyles in the last few weeks–those who like to go out and have fun have found their lives inevitably alter. Bars and restaurants have had to reschedule working hours and programs to attract clients and survive potentially debilitating economical constraints.

Cairo Jazz Club reopened Friday after a couple of weeks of renovation; the popular hangout had been raided by thugs on Friday 28 February. “Everything movable was taken, the cash machines, sound system, cutlery, glassware–even chairs and couches. And of course the alcohol,” said Akram al-Sherif, the owner.

Al-Sherif called last Friday’s re-launch "Gomaat al-Bedaya" (Initiation Friday). DJ Samba was spinning. “The place was packed; it seems people were eager to start clubbing again."

Cairo Jazz Club is opening its doors during the curfew every day from 3 to 10 PM. Some places, such as La Bodega, open earlier (from 12 noon to 10 PM) to host those who fancy a breakfast, lunch or drink with a snack. Johnny’s opens from 3 to 11 PM–and karaoke night is still on Tuesday for those who want to sing it out.

Restaurants at Le Pacha boat, moored on the east of Zamalek, are also open during the day. As the night scene slowly comes back to life, more people are feeling encouraged to leave the comfort of their couches and hit the road in search of some fun.

“I arrived at the club at 8:30 PM and left around 11 PM. I felt safe being out but I didn’t want to pass the curfew,” said clubber Nadine Hashem. Nadine said she needed to go out to disconnect from all the depression and the worry of the previous weeks.

“Most clubs are now playing patriotic songs to celebrate the victory,” she added.

Things were not as relaxed at La Bodega last weekend, when clientele started their own mini-riot at 10:30 PM after the manager switched the lights off and started removing drinks to urge customers to leave. “Mesh hanemshi, heya temshi!" (We won’t leave, she leaves!), chanted La Bodega lovers–paraphrasing a slogan used in the pro-democracy protests that started on 25 January–to the manager, who wanted to stick to the official curfew.

Angry clubbers waited for the manager downstairs to give her a piece of their mind–making it impossible for her to return home on time.

Amici, a new bar in Zamalek, opened its doors to young people during the revolution beyond the hours of the curfew most of the time, according to Dina Abdel Latif, a businesswoman–who said she herself preferred not to stay out beyond curfew hours.

Others, like Hussein Salem, a Cairo bachelor who lives in Maadi, prefer to have fun in the comfort of their own homes. According to Salem, Maadi residents rarely leave their neighborhood and resort to house gatherings for entertainment.

“We passed curfew a few times and a couple of friends had to spend the night,” said Salem, who added that he doesn't plan to go out for a while until the situation returns to normal.

But as Cairo nightlife resurrects itself and the protests diminish, more and more young people are keen to go out and have fun.

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