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You know a Tel Aviv nightclub is ultracool when it opens not at midnight but just past 1 o'clock in the morning.
At 00:50, I get to Dada - rated by Time Out as the second best Tel Aviv nightclub of 2006 - and a buff, short Russian security guard wearing a puffy black jacket tells me the place is closed (as in, not open for the night), implying with a condescending tone that I'm an undesired element. But a nicer guard, who lacked the Russian's pretentiousness, assured me that they would open in 10 minutes.
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Despite the police station in the area, Dada is located on a street where you would not feel comfortable walking alone at night. The area is grungy, dingy and industrial, making you feel that at any moment some drug addict might panhandle you. So after shooting an espresso at Aroma across the way on Yehuda Halevi Street, I head back to Dada, ready to find out what all the fuss is about.
The club is empty, even at 1:10 am. Some "happening" club.
"It won't fill up until 3 a.m.," the cashier informs me.
Going downstairs to get to the dance floor, I already get the sense that this is the underground of Tel Aviv nightlife, in part because the place feels like a cellar with its low ceiling, long rectangular dance floor, minimal lighting, simple gray and black design, and a DJ booth located at eye level.
As East Village-esque Tel Avivians begin to filter in to the filtered electronic bass lines, it becomes clear that this is a place where sounds, looks, moves and touch matter more than words. Not surprisingly, as I seek one of the owners to get the scoop on Dada, he is reticent, probably because the less people know about Dada, the more allure and exclusivity it maintains.
Gal (it would be poor etiquette to ask his last name) says the point of the place is to bring back the glory of Tel Aviv's nightlife scene, which translates into: the hottest DJs, parties that begin late and end past six in the morning, gay friendliness, and well-dressed, well-tattooed and well-pierced late 20 and 30+ year-olds (as opposed to "kids" and soldiers). Dada already has a successful model, The Breakfast Club on Rothschild Street, founded in 2005 by the same owners, which quickly rose as Tel Aviv's trendy epicenter.
The main feature of Dada, Gal says, is the music. The electro, progressive house and generally dark beats and basses fit any and all forms of unconventional intoxication, to the extent that Dada can easily turn into a surreal fantasyland of sensation.
But as I leave, it becomes clear that either I came on a bad night or Dada's goal to attract the beautiful bohemia of Tel Aviv has backfired. Waiting in line to be selected were dozens of freaky-looking guys (and hardly any women) with frightening hairdos, pimply skin, bad tattoos, and gruff manners. The crazy thing was that most of them waltzed right in. Surreal, indeed.
Harakevet 6. Open Thursday, Friday from 1 a.m. Music: Electro, progressive house, techno. Cover: NIS 30-50