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During the past year Emek Hefer, the rural valley sandwiched between Netanya and Hadera, has planted the seeds for a steadily growing nightlife. It used to be that residents of villages, farms and kibbutzim in the area had to travel to Herzliya or Tel Aviv to experience the glamorous pubs and dance bars. Not anymore.
The sprouting nightlife reflects a changing demographic profile in Emek Hefer, which is slowly becoming a nouveau college town. The villages have become attractive places to live for many students and young professionals. Colleges in the area, such as Ruppin College and Netanya College, have created a market of potential partyers seeking quality nightlife establishments rather than kibbutz caf s or pubs.
The following is a partial listing for adventurers who want to break out of Tel Aviv and see how Sabras party in the little cities.
Ha'ogen Under the slogan "Because every Friday you need to fall apart!" Alcoholic productions presents a happening party every Friday for students over 23. Music: hip-hop. Dance: Israeli. Kibbutz Ha'ogen, Info: 0523-753800.
Inigo Montoya When Inigo Montoya opened last year, a nightlife monsoon hit the valley. Inigo's pumping music, well-dressed folk, exclusivity and hot bartenders make it the most Tel Aviv-style dance bar in the valley. It's not the place to go for a quiet night but to party with the "in" crowd. Em Haderech Mall; Yonnai Junction; open daily from 9 p.m.; Tel: 0528-697824
Lechet: A pioneering nightlife institution in Emek Hefer, Lechet is one of the most popular weekend spots for soldiers. It's in Kfar Vitkin and is open Friday and Saturday nights. Music: hip-hop, alternative, mainstream. Tel: 0543-955539;
Muze The first mega-bar in the area, Muze is probably the most ambitious. Half a million dollars was invested to turn this former hangar in Emek Hefer into a world-class establishment. With 90 stools, it's arguably one of the largest bars in Israel, maybe even larger than Tel Aviv's Lanski, although it has yet to reach the prestigious Tel Aviv club's status. Emek Hefer Industrial Zone, Tuesday-Saturday from 9 p.m.; Tel: 0509-339879
Natasha Once busy as a weekend dance bar for students and soldiers, Natasha is now the prime locale for "organic" parties. Among the more "natural" and "rustic" of all the nightlife options, these parties are "non-toxic." No smoking is allowed on the dance floor, and tea and natural foods are served on the patio. People of all ages can "come as you are" to dance to world music and golden oldies. It's at the entrance to Kfar Haim and opens every other Saturday night. Tel: 0507-958676.
Selfa As one of the first dance bars in Emek Hefer, Selfa was among those that started the pub disco ball rolling. Located right next to Muze in a secluded industrial zone, Selfa consists of a rectangular bar and lounge area with leather sofas. Despite its classic design, Selfa still has a village appeal. On almost any given night, locals 23 and over are likely to bump into old friends. Emek Hefer Industrial Zone; Tuesday-Saturday from 9 p.m. Tel: 0525-400482.
Vasco Only a few months old, Vasco is a little darker and more subdued than some other establishments, although the design is standard, with a rectangular bar and a wall lined with sofas. What distinguishes it is an outdoor patio overlooking the valley. Its location, deep within a small mall in Emek Hefer, means that only people "in the know" go there, usually students and an older, professional crowd. Ha'ogen Junction. Open daily from 9 p.m. Tel: 0544-84564
Valeryv Located across the way from Inigo Montoya, Valery is arguably the most elegant restaurant/bar in the area. The place feels like a bistro during the day and a dance bar at night, when it gets busy with younger folk. It gets really busy on weekends, with DJs spinning freestyle, and is a convenient alternative for those who can't get into Inigo Montoya. Emek Haderech Mall; Yonnai Junction. Open daily from 12 p.m. Tel: (09) 866-6720
Zuf "On the water" is a unique outdoor club near a stream and forest in Kfar Vitkin, equipped with swimming pools and a small camping site (for late-night, drunk revelers). Geared mostly for soldiers, Zuf is popular nationwide, particularly for its warm, personal treatment. The catchy website says it all: www.zuf.co.il