Latakia, the unlikely party zone in a Syria plagued by war and poverty

It is located on the Mediterranean and is known for its nightlife It’s not Ibiza or Maltabut the Syrian city of Latakia, whose party side collides with the other reality of a country that has been at war for thirteen years and a population plunged into poverty.

As the sun sets on Latakia’s southern “corniche,” groups of young people eager to leave the day’s harshness behind them camp out on the sidewalks in front of stalls selling alcoholic drinks with chairs, small speakers and makeshift campfires with metal braziers .

Known locally as “takeaway” parties, they primarily attract those who cannot afford expensive nightclub tickets The entrance fee is about $20, about the average salary in the country.

Not far away, in a nine-story building overlooking the sea, the Opa Sky nightclub opens at midnight to a different, wealthier crowd, as evidenced by the large number of luxury cars parked on the street where the establishment is located.

“Every Thursday there is an idea and every Thursday we do a show. Every Thursday we do something specific, we can do a Mexican or Spanish theme. “Once we did Hawaiian style, another Egyptian style,” owner Majd told EFE, adding that they offer “all kinds” of drinks, with and without alcohol.

At Grandpa, several dozen people of different ages dance non-stop between colored lights and the smoke of hookahs, singing the greatest Arabic and international hits that sound from the DJ table.

Suddenly, several drummers enter the room and play darbukas, typical Middle Eastern drums, accompanied by dancers with masks over their eyes, giving an oriental touch to the night of celebrations.

The DJ Rami emphasizes to EFE with a raised voice that his work is not limited to making music, but also offers “An oasis” of joy for those who need it or that it would do them good to forget their personal difficulties, even if just for a few hours.

Its devices have autonomous batteries to prevent the music from stopping when there are power outages, which is very common given the electricity shortage that the country suffers and results in Latakia only having a few hours of electricity each day.

One of these power outages comes without warning as some customers arrive at the building, but none of them seem to mind having to walk up nine floors to Grandpa’s.

One of the revelers is a girl from the rural areas of the province whose family doesn’t allow her to come home late but who likes to go out at night a rebellion against local traditions he doesn’t share.

The young woman, who did not identify herself, defended in statements to EFE that “as long as her family does not find out” she has the right to have a party to relieve the pressure she is under due to her academic studies and her suffers from economic difficulties. which she manages with the help of her boyfriend.

In Latakia, even as dozens of shells fell from the front lines across the city during the height of the armed conflict that began in 2011, the party did not stop, although it perhaps began to organize on a smaller scale or with more modest means.

Before the war, The reservations were made in the names of influential families, They were dressed in modern clothes and had made nightlife their usual form of entertainment.

In many cases these faces have now been replaced by the wartime nouveau riche.

It is the impact of thirteen years of violence, a crisis that has left the country 90% of Syrians in poverty and made business class disappear.

Meanwhile, Syrian society is torn between those who defend the possibility of celebrating, those who find it disrespectful when many cannot feed their children, and some others who find it frivolous in the midst of war.

For LeahFor her, one of the participants in the theme evening at Grandpa, it is important to move forward despite tragedies such as the armed conflict or the devastating earthquake that hit her city hard a year ago.

“Now we live our lives and continue every Thursday with a mandatory night of staying up late with our friends and people we love. We live our lives normally despite all the circumstances,” he said in statements to EFE. “We go out because life must go on and we are people who love happiness and joy.”Leah concluded.

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