Staying up late at Nocturno

The popular Jerusalem nightspot is celebrating its second anniversary of presenting live music.

Nocturno is celebrating its second musical anniversary with Maor Cohen and Liron Meyuhas. (photo credit: GAYA SA’ADON)
Nocturno is celebrating its second musical anniversary with Maor Cohen and Liron Meyuhas.
(photo credit: GAYA SA’ADON)
There are a few hardy and hearty souls out there, in the Jerusalem domain, who are doing their utmost for the city. While, possibly, there may be some of that description in the municipality, this is about street-level Jerusalemites who want to provide locals and visitors with some quality offerings for their hard-earned loot.
There is an abundance of that on offer, day in, day out, at Nocturno in the upper reaches of Bezalel Street. The vegetarian-vegan eatery has been around, at a couple of locations on the very same block, for nigh on 23 years, servicing a faithful and steadily growing clientele base. A couple of years ago proprietor Amit Schechter decided to up the money’s worth ante by sprucing up the basement level of the building and creating an entertainment venue – and a pretty impressively designed space it is, too.
The second anniversary of Nocturno showtime will be marked this week with three performances – on January 23, 24 and 26 (all 9 p.m.). Schechter and program curator Ram Mizrahi-Spinoza have lined up some quality entertainment for the occasion, opening with multicultural, ethnically laced group Bint El-Funk, followed by veteran singer-songwriter Maor Cohen, and closing on Saturday evening with percussionist-vocalist Liron Meyuhas. “She’s a Jerusalemite,” Schechter notes with more than a hint of pride.
Therein lies the crux of much of what Schechter and Nocturno are about. “I source most of the raw materials from Jerusalem and this area,” he adds. There is also the not inconsiderable matter of providing a staff of 50 locals with employment.
And quite a few Jerusalemite artists have been hosted on the stage there, including seasoned singer-songwriter Hadara Levin-Areddy, and violinist-vocalist husband and wife pop duo Michael and Shimrit Greilsammer are due to strut their stuff at Nocturno on February 2.
When one casts an eye across the program of any given month, it is evident that Schechter and his cohorts are looking to offer the public more than “just” a good time. I noted that the slot for the day after I met thirtysomething Schechter featured a certain Doron Fishler talking about procrastination.
“His talks are always sold out,” Schechter says. “I think this is his third appearance here. On the previous occasions, some people came at the last moment, but we had to turn them away. We told them that, had they not procrastinated, they would have been able to get in,” he adds with a laugh.
Schechter is clearly into self-sustaining ecosystems and keeping things as in-house as possible. Next week (January 28) there will be a styling workshop for women presented by Tami Montag from the design center on the floor above the café. The blurb for the event offers to show female patrons “how to dress in a complimentary manner, at any age, and for any size, using optical illusions, and any trick going to update your wardrobe and easily create an interesting and unique style.”
And, if that weren’t enough, there are drag evenings, and stand-up comedy spots, too.
There’s more to the Nocturno bow. Schechter and I sat at a boardroom-proportioned table by the stage, and I noticed a couple of intriguing works of art on the walls near the corner. “This whole space is a very active gallery,” he says. “It is curated by Smadar Tzuk, and the works change each month, and our monthly programs always reflect the exhibition image.”
The programs are pretty appealing creations, too. A lot of thought and care go into the design. One side of the foldup contains the necessary day-by-day show info, with a handful of “monthly recommendations,” with half of the remaining quarter of the side offering a glimpse of the artwork that can be enjoyed by flipping the sheet of paper over. The current program, for example, has a poem, called “Love,” by Avishai Khori. The said young man also happens to be on the Nocturno staff, is a Jerusalemite, and will mark the launch of his debut volume of poems at his place of work.
The aesthetic touch abounds everywhere you look, and Schechter clearly has a loving eye for detail. Twenty-three years after he took the café on, as a teenager, he is just as hands-on and enthused as he was as a new arrival in the capital, following his parents’ breakup and relocation from Tel Aviv. When I arrived I caught him inspecting the rear side of a plasma screen.
“This place fuels my energy,” says the boyish-looking 39-year-old. “I think we offer the most varied program of entertainment and events in Jerusalem. And we’ve still got so much more we can do here.”
With Schechter’s practiced and devoted hands on the Nocturno tiller, there is, surely, a lot more to come from the Nocturno gang.
For more information: (077) 700-8510 and