Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Visiting Israel: Tel-Aviv with Omer Czerniak, Take 2

Realizing that Friday night is going to be too boring if spent at home, I sent a message to Omer, asking him where would a single guy go out to in Tel-Aviv on a Friday night. He replied back with a few alternatives, I asked if he’d like to join me, so we decided to meet at 9:30pm and take it from there.

Friday night in Israel is equivalent to Saturday night in most of the Western world, when it comes to workdays; the weekend here is Friday-Saturday, rather than Saturday-Sunday, and this is due to Saturday (“Sabbath”) being considered a sabbatical for religious purposes.

I was dying to get some sleep, however my plans were foiled by my extended family’s visit. This didn’t come as a huge shock to me, as many family members gather in our house every Friday night, and this includes my sister and three kids. The level of noise in our place was unreal, and so were the chances of getting any sleep done. I was therefore forced to substitute “sleep” with “lying on the bed, waiting for a miracle”.

At 8:30pm I “woke up”, took a quick shower, got ready for the night out and joined my family in the living room for about an hour of extremely loud conversations – of course, you have to be loud when the TV is on (though nobody was watching it) and there are four young kids running around.

Omer came by to pick me up at around 9:30pm and we went to Tel-Aviv. Parked the car in Ben-Yehuda Street, a major street that runs parallel to the beach and hosts millions of places to hang out.

Our first stop was this place called “Eliezer’s Friends”. Ben-Yehuda street is named after Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who is credited for “reviving” the Hebrew language at the end of the 19th century, so I’m guessing that the bar’s name has something to do with it. Omer called this place a “semi-intelligent, semi-sleazy singles bar”, so we decided to check it out.

We approached the place and encountered the bouncer, sitting outside talking to some girl. He saw us approaching and started talking.

“Hello guys. Just to let you know, ever since recently, Friday nights are reserved for Homosexual crowds.”

This is the place to note that, when it comes to the gay crowds, Tel-Aviv is considered a top destination, world-wide. The gay community in Tel-Aviv is huge and pretty diverse; enormous pride parades take place here every year, and there are numerous gay-only hangout spots throughout the city.

Omer felt a bit shocked, as he was sure that news like that would have made it to his ears already. He asked the bouncer if he’s serious, to which the bouncer replied, with a great level of confidence, that yes, this is true.

“Ummmm… Ah… Sorry, we didn’t know…”

To which the bouncer replied: “Why, what is wrong with that?” in a somewhat aggressive tone.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with it” said Jerry Seinfeld about ten years ago. We felt quite embarrassed as there is no right way to answer this question. Clearly, neither myself nor Omer have anything against homosexuals, but how do you reply to this question without sounding apologetic?

We mumbled something, then said “Thank you” and turned to leave. It was then when the bouncer suddenly grabbed Omer by the arm, laughed and said “I’m just kidding” and opened the door for us.

That was a funny moment.

We entered the bar and I couldn’t really tell why Omer called it “semi-intelligent” as there was nothing semi-intelligent about it. The main thing about a singles bar is its crowdedness – you are literally touching someone almost 100% of the time, regardless of whether you stand, walk or sit. Given the fact that Tel-Aviv women – at least those who frequent singles bars - are insanely gorgeous, I found very little reason to complain about the crowdedness.

We talked and had a few drinks during the span of just about an hour, when we decided to leave and try someplace else. We decided to go to a neighbouring singles bar, which Omer called “sleazy”. We entered and, again, I couldn’t tell why this one isn’t as “intelligent” as the other. Then again, I am not known for my deep understanding of pub culture.

Spent another hour or so talking over a drink, then left for a nearby ice-cream place for some good ice-cream.

This time I decided to wander the streets a little bit before I go home. I started walking in the direction I thought home is – turned west on Bugrashov street, then right on King George street, all the way to Allenby Street. It was about 2:00 or 3:00am, but you couldn’t really tell as the streets were loaded with people. On Allenby street, I took a short walk and then hailed a “service cab” that took me all the way home. A quick snack and I’m off to bed after yet another great Tel-Aviv night.




Anonymous said...

Hi, 1)thanks for allowing readers to get a view into Israelis current life: again your beautiful writing hits the mark so as it did in ktgc blog. 2)about Tel Aviv's life: I wonder if this plenty of leisures comes from an eagerness of feeling alive, due to a sort of permanent state of alert/war, or is this the natural jewish way of life.I count on your ITbrilliance
and hope not to be misunderstood for this comment. daria

Anonymous said...

Hi Dee,

1) Thank you, I appreciate that.

2) You are right on the money here. There are many reasons why it's like this, but the eagerness of feeling alive is a major one. It has nothing to do with the "Jewish way of life" though - and I will pardon you because pretty much the entire world has it wrong when it comes to distinguish "being Jewish" from "being Israeli".

I was planning to write about it soon... funny how you read my mind. :-)

Anonymous said...

maybe I am more E.T. than I.T., but you know that I can read and write..and also count:-)))
ready for your lesson, master
(sorry, feel a bit silly today)