Val and I are by some measure the oldest volunteers in the group, and up till now we have not joined in with any of the informal social activities. We do not, however, want to come across as anti-social, or, for that matter, old, so when the word went out that a small group was heading out for a beer, we tagged along.
Nine of us headed across town to the Coop D’etat, a lively rooftop bar, dominated by a set of huge steel girders holding up a skyline billboard for bottled water. The music was great, a mix of R & B and rock, and after a beer or two, (and then a margarita or two) we were all dancing. I know, I am too old for such behaviour, but I had a great time – we all did.
The following night, a meal was arranged at a local restaurant, and a slightly smaller group, including Val and me, headed out. It was a true banquet, with three courses, and delicious, but far too much, especially for people with our clear-your-plate upbringing.
There was also live traditional music, possibly even louder than the night before, provided by a six-piece band, and fronted by a lead singer (pictured with Chris below) who scarcely looked the part: he was small, middle-aged, dressed in a crumpled suit. However, he was also not only a magnificent singer, but also a hugely charismatic presence, rousing the young crowd to a shouting, stamping, yelling, dancing fever. The whole place rocked.
Hovsep, our organiser and co-ordinator, rates Lebanese night-life as very special – open, progressive, varied. I agree – Beirut at least is a city that knows how to party.