The Weekly Leaks: Post-Hangover NYE Roundup

This New Year’s Eve was special for me. The usual stay-at-home or faraya-chalet routine was broken, and I took to the beautiful city of Beirut, and how it was celebrating 2011’s arrival.

Before more in-depth descriptions, one major thing I noticed is that no venue felt like that given venue. The people, music, décor and atmosphere were completely different in most of the places I visited. For better or for worse, the clubbers can only decide.

After the ritualistic tradition of watching Michel Hayek’s “premonitions” on LBC, with some smoked salmon and mixed charcuterie, I put on my pass-par-touts smart outfit and headed towards Beirut.

Countdowns are countdowns anywhere on Earth, so to properly gauge a party, post-midnight was the best criterion. Instead, I counted down to midnight with thousands of other people in Beirut’s central district.

As is customary, the “midnights” were not properly timed, and some were a bit too early, others way too late. I’m not complaining though, for that gave everyone there the opportunity to revel in the sight of the beautiful fireworks displays longer and more closely.

Of course the familiar sight of mothers covering their children, and boyfriends looking panicky with their girlfriends held tight, is a result of irresponsible celebratory gunfire, which despite all efforts by the government and Interior Ministry, persist in densely populated areas. After all, who would want to fall victim of a stray bullet, shot originally in celebration…

Anyway, on to the venues now…

The closest party to where I counted down was of course the Hush party at Beirut Souks. Exclusivity was the keyword there in my opinion. As the title suggests, the party is hush-hush for a select few guests in Beirut’s foremost premium entertainment, business and shopping district. The party showed no signs of clamping down anytime soon, a perfect indicator in any NYE celebration.

Next stop was the White Circus party at BIEL. This party could be safely described as the most glamorous, with tables with price tags as high as 20K USD, you could be sure that the White Circus was catering to high-end partygoers with world-class performances. My skepticism towards the circus-ness of the venue was laid to rest, for the hexagonal tent, complete with a circus ring stilt-walkers, trapeze artists and even a popcorn machine did indeed give that boyish joy of going to the circus. The performances were impressive, making the night a blend of theater, circus, clubbing, fine dining and premium toasts.

Right next door, the Haifa Wehbe and Ragheb Alama venue resonated with the voices of the megastars and their fans, singing in unison.

Next up was the Monot-Sodeco block, where Métis was my pre-planned spot. Splonge management had prepared their now annual celebrations with a solid lineup of DJs and performances. Here’s one club where I felt the vibe and style was completely different. Even though Métis’ schedule is usually very diverse, the clubgoers and the music felt different. My stop there was short, after all I still had a lot of paces to visit, but from what I could tell, Métis with Splonge on NYE2011 was one of Beirut’s most successful.

Palais’ NYE celebrations did not go according to plan, but nevertheless, the party went on. The appearance by the Pussy Cat Doll’s Melody and dance music sensation Snap was canceled, bringing the planned afterparty at Palais to a halt. The clubbers, DJs and management though were not prepared to call it a night, and NYE at Palais was a testament to how Beirut can overcome virtually any obstacle in the way of it party lifestyle and hedonism.

After passing through the original nightlife street of Beirut, it was time to pass through today’s favorite nocturnal street: Gemmayzeh. In Gemmayzeh, the party seemed to be on the street itself as much as in the restaurants, clubs and pubs. Dressed in elaborate masks and headgear, thousands of celebrators congratulated each other, passing cars and even the on-duty police officers tasked with keeping those very street revelers and cars quiet, but not tonight! Gemmayzeh’s endless options and formulas made sure that everyone there got to enjoy the first few hours of 2011. Even though we just went for a “drive thru” in the street, we got a sense of what we had missed out on…

Going up Gouraud Street and through Mar Mikhail Street, we could see that the party had spread there too. At the end of the street is where the new Mandaloun catered for a crowd different from that just down the street. A more mature and experienced guest list was celebrating 2011’s arrival at Mandaloun, with a greater appreciation of the finer things in life and entertainment.

Now, to the last two places on my list, and the two I was personally looking forward to the most: B018 and the Basement.

B018 is just across the highway from Mandaloun, and we were there and going underground in no time. I’ve seen B018 in several formats and designs, with the furniture and interior completely transformed between one night and the other. I must say though, Hed Kandi’s format this NYE 2011 was like nothing I’ve seen before. Disco balls and lasers paired up with Hed Kandi visuals and imagery transformed the usually dark, minimalistic interior into a vibrant, colorful and dynamic party venue for the British clubbing superbrand. B018 is another club that was truly different from its everyday look and feel, making NYE a unique night, yet with the B018 much-loved twist with the infamous resident decknicians Gunther & Stamina, Ziad Ghosn and BiG AL with the UK’s Greg Myers.

Then, it was off to the Basement. The club was turned into a winter wonderland, with everything that is usually black or red in color, covered in fluffy white. Fog, mist and even a snow fight kept true to the Basement’s reputation to be different, weird and simply extremely fun. The international lineup consisted of favorites at the Basement, like Jade and Russia’s Bestov, but with a different style of music, a style fitting for NYE celebrations. Also, for those few hours, the burden of the imminent closing down disappeared and everyone’s hearts were lighter. The last NYE at the Basement truly was the best.

Minutes before daybreak, we were back in B018 where celebrations lasted well after the sunrise. After the night of mayhem around Beirut, we needed to fill our tummies, and where better than the 24hour Lebanese restaurant Falamanki on Sodeco!

That’s my recap of the places I was lucky enough to experience. I hope you had an equally enjoyable and memorable night, and we’d love to see you share with us anything I’ve missed!

Enjoy the full coverage of all events by below.

  • Mario Ochoa @ B018 2006/03/03