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Party time in Taksim 14 mars 2012

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, Istanbul, Turkey / Turquie.
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The Nation (Thailand) Wednesday, March 14, 2012, p. 4B

Canan Sevil, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Istanbul

Istanbul’s nightlife hub buzzes from early evening till the sun rises. Finding somewhere to party in Istanbul is not a matter of choosing a venue. Those in the know just set off and have fun, says local expert Varol Doken striding through the crowds in the Taksim district of town.

Born and bred in Istanbul, Doken lived at the heart of the lively Taksim party zone in Beyoglu district for many years and he knows the area like the back of his hand. « Whatever kind of party or music you are looking for, you’ll find it here. Taksim is calling and the motto is: ‘It doesn’t matter what you are or what you are looking for, just get over here!' »

The famous, three-kilometre-long shopping street Istiklal Caddesi is the backbone of the party zone and packed with cafes, bars, clubs, restaurants, taverns and pubs. « There are hundreds if not thousands of bars and clubs, » Doken says. New ones spring up almost every day.

The Istiklal, as the locals call it, stretches from Tuenel Square to Taksim Square and has been a pedestrianised zone since the 1990s. It is a venue for shopping, carousing and dancing until the early hours. The pavements are crammed with people every day of the week. At night that number seems to swell to thousands as music of all kinds reverberates through the narrow streets. Aromas from the many eateries fill the air, mingling with the salty sea breeze from the Bosphorus.

« The city may go to sleep but Taksim never does, » says Doeken, gazing at the every growing mass of people making their way along the Istiklal. These partygoers do not just come out at the weekend either. « Things get going on Thursday around 10 at night, » he says. The fun usually continues until around 6am as the revellers trawl the bars and move from one tavern to the next. Those out and about just allow themselves to be carried away by the atmosphere and go from one location to the other.

« Thousands of people are on the move and they need to get around as well. In Istanbul there are 17,000 taxis and 14,000 of them are carrying fares in and around Taksim alone, » said Doken. « The evening begins with going out for something to eat, » explains the expert, deftly squeezing drops of lemon juice over the fresh filet of bream on the plate in front of him. Many people like to eat out at Turkish taverns, the so-called Meyhane, in Nevizade, one of the most lively thoroughfares in Beyoglu.

A maze of narrow, twisting alleyways link some of the party hotspots in Taksim, which branch off the Istiklal. Among these are Nevizade, Asmali Mescit and Kucuk Beyoglu. These venues are popular with students, intellectuals and artists. To reach the « in » destinations, visitors often have to make their way through dingy hallways onto the top floors of buildings, many of which have seen better days. Doors open here to reveal some of the most lively and colourful clubs the city has to offer. Most have large balcony terraces offering spectacular views of the Bosporus and the city lights.

All kinds of different music styles mingle here into a solid beat that seems to mark out the time of this city. It is a kind of pulsating heartbeat which envelopes and sweeps along all those who hear it. The sun rises up slowly above the roofs of Istanbul and the loud nocturnal clamour gives way to snatches of conversation from partygoers heading home on the Istiklal. Before they drop into bed most tuck into a snack. A Taksim Burger – a meat rissole drenched in a fiery tomato sauce with lashings of garlic – goes down particularly well. « After you have been out drinking the garlic in the burger tastes really good, » says a smiling Doken.
Doken recently swapped his Taksim stomping ground for the Asian side of the city and now lives in Uskudar district. He still misses Taksim. « Taksim is simply louder and more lively with a wide range of attractions. It’s a place with a genuine feeling of freedom. Everyone celebrates down there, be there Turks, Germans or French, » he says.

Doken boards one of the yellow taxis for the ride home across the Bosphorus and leaves us with one more thought: « If you haven’t had a good time in Taksim then you don’t know what having a good time means. »

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