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When I came to Israel, I didn't expect the club scene to be much different from that of London and New York, or even of my home in Cape Town. But I was in for a few surprises.
Most clubs around the world cater to different social groups. They range from upscale watering holes for the wealthy to dance clubs aimed exclusively at gays and lesbians. In Cape Town, for example, there are even spots called Shebeens that cater specifically to the Black population. It is rare to find an overlap of different groups.
My first experience of club life in Israel was at a place in Beersheba called The Forum. I had heard it was a great place for just having a good time, so a group of friends and I decided to check it out.
Thursday is usually the best day for going out, and we arrived just before midnight, which is considered early in clubbing circles, as most parties really get started only at around 1:30 a.m.
After being thoroughly searched by two monstrous bouncers and paying a cover charge of NIS 55, which I'm told is the standard in most dance bars (I hear that large parties can cost up to NIS 150), we finally made our way in. I was amazed at how large the place was, with dance areas inside as well as out.
By the time I'd had two beers and checked out every girl in a short skirt, the semi-full club was transformed into a packed den of writhing bodies. There were the usual girls dancing with boys, but also girls with girls and boys with boys, all bumping and grinding to the beat. Standing in the middle of all this, I got the feeling that people were there just to have a good time - unlike a lot of clubs in Cape Town, where it has become more important to worry about the clothes you're wearing and with whom you are being seen.
Not that this doesn't happen in Israel. There are many clubs in Tel Aviv and environs that cater to certain social groups.
On the other hand, I have a friend who lives in Herzliya who hardly goes clubbing in the center of Tel Aviv. She says the clubs there are too overcrowded - and then there is the problem of finding parking. Still, Tel Aviv is considered a major player in terms of world clubbing; many DJs with international reputations perform there all year round. And everyone knows that "even" Jerusalem has the world-class Ha'oman 17, regarded as one of the best facilities in Israel and Europe.
After stumbling out of the Beersheba club like zombies at 6 a.m., the sun already shining in our faces, we came across a group of American girls who expressed their night and ours in three words: "That was awesome!"
I would agree.