By Elie El Khoury
It’s your typical Wednesday night: cars blocking the entrance to Gemayzeh’s main street and parking spaces running out by 10 p.m.
If you’re still wondering whether my editor lets a typo slip, then you probably haven’t heard of Rotaract’s Non-Smoking Campaign in which 35 pubs in Gemmayzeh were committed to ban smoking for one night only.
Making my way through the crowds, reminiscent of a Saturday night, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of the usual young adult clubbers, or perhaps my generation finally grew a good conscience and decided to sleep early on a school night. Hence my lack of charm wasn’t the reason I ended up going solo.
But this university student was determined to enjoy his night on the town; so after dodging the usual overexcited 2010 Mercedes driver, avoiding the television crews, ignoring the obnoxious music of the owner of the loudest sound system in town, and bypassing the love stoned boyfriend blocking the path with his girlfriend who can hardly walk in her high heels, I made it to the Gemmayzeh stairs and entered the first pub on my left.
The place was packed! Large groups occupied the tables, waiters ran in all directions to accommodate demands, and drinks missed their usual bad smelling counterpart.
The cool autumn breeze, the Latin tunes, the dim candle lights, and the brown sugar swimming in my cold sips of passion fruit liqueur, formed a collage which was complimented by the sweet scents of cologne and drinks; the non smoking environment.
As expected, some people were actually carrying cigarette packs and eventually gave up to their nicotine cravings by smoking the occasional cigarette, which served as a reminder that this is Lebanon after all, and the application of the rules is only an approximations to the ideal case.
Ultimately, I decided to leave a full house and call it a night around midnight. Amazingly, the scene outside hasn’t changed much; people were still flooding the street, wandering for pub to bar, taking delight in this clear Beirut night, sending a message about what our nights ought to smell like.