5 places to go dancing near Taksim, Istanbul
Alia KIRANIt’s the middle of the week. You’re trying not to do anything too crazy as you have an early day at the office tomorrow, but you need to get out some of those mid-week blues that seemed to have caught up with you. What’s the solution to making Friday come quicker? Well, dancing. No ifs, ands or buts. And luckily, for all of us living in this city of varied rhythms, there are quite a few places to choose from depending on first and foremost, on the music and vibe of the crowd. Here are my top 5 places to go dancing in the Taksim area (more areas to come, not to worry!)
If you’re looking to break it down to cheesy dancehall songs until the morning hours, Nayah is your spot. Located on the street just behind the French consulate, this place may not look like much at first. Its scummy entrance is more suggestive of an after-hours creepy dance club, but ascend the stairs and you will thank yourself for not judging a bar by its entrance. The first three floors you pass are reminiscent of other Taksim rock bars (complete with foosball and old school arcade machine). But it’s the fourth floor where you’re in for a surprise. Boasting an almost 360 rooftop view of the city, the grooves are predominately dancehall and reggae. The dancefloor is spacious and hosts Istanbul’s best dancers, leading to epic dance circles. As the clientele here is more concerned about “da rhythms,” there’s less concern about creepy dudes, which is always a plus in my book. Nayah host a variety of parties and special nights, so check out their Facebook to get the updates about what’s going on.
Küçük (previously known as Otto), Asmalı Mescit
Though the names of this place may be convoluted (and may lead you to wandering the streets and ending up in the other Otto), it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for unusual electronic vibes. Descending the steps and brushing away the heavy curtains at the entrance, one enters some sort of mix between a Berlin club and Ottoman harem: the tile dance floor is surrounded by velvet seats that jut directly onto the dancefloor so you can rest your wobbly dance legs without losing your dancing excitement. Techno beats and smoke cloud the inside, so if that’s a bit much to handle, even right outside Küçük is a pleasant spot to hang out for song breaks, complete with a small white bench, (and if you’re a local, people you probably know) and popcorn sellers. If you’re not feeling like splurging on the fancy cocktails and wild assortment of shots (ask for the Gelincik), you can always find a close-by “ tekel” and drink outside. The doorman is known to be a bit of tough guy, so don’t try too much funny stuff.
Kasette, Asmalı Mescit
Kasette is perfect for the nights where you find yourself wandering (with or without a band of friends) on Istiklal Avenue, with no particular destination and you want a place where you can simultaneously dance and be outside. Find your way to Kasette for house grooves and a pleasant international crowd. The music can get a bit repetitive (unless you’re a real house head) and the umbrellas stationed outside can get in the way of movin’ n groovin’ but it’s a good post-bar spot if you’re feeling out of place in Taksim. There’s also a delicious cheese burger joint across the street called Antakya Büfe. Be warned: It does not stay open as long as Kasette, so if you have your mind set on an end of the night cheeseburger, better to go earlier rather than later. Yourself and your tastebuds will thank you tomorrow.
Definitely the most underground of all these spots, Pixie offers unusual tunes and intimacy to the Garage, Dub, Drum and Bass, and Jungle lover. There is a cover (a bit pricey at 15 Turkish Liras) but it doubles as a drink ticket so it’s not all for not. It’s also located extremely close to TekTekçi, a popular shot place, and Indigo, an electronic club offering popular DJ performances and expensive drinks. The bar is small but the speakers are loud and numerous, so you might feel as though your ears went through an engine of airplane but the dancing freedom is well worth it. The dance floor is small (and conducive to bouts of moshing), with people dancing their hearts away. So feel free to shake all your limbs in any way, shape or form without fear of judgement from its regulars.
Peyote is well known as a student/alt hang out spot for the local Istanbul “cool kid” scene. Although the second floor hosts generally engaging concerts of local talents in the rock and progressive rock, it’s the first floor that keeps you there all night. DJs tend to play a mix of house and electronic music but it’s usually interesting enough keep you coming back down from the third floor unofficial smoking indoor terrace, which boasts a live DJ with good tunes as well. Running up and down the floors will make you feel as though you’ve entered some sort of music fun house, the perfect venue for a night of energetic dancing and socializing. Although its predominately more of a drinking spot, alcohol is relatively inexpensive (10 liras for gin and tonics) and as an added plus, the bartenders always serve Coronas with lime and gin and tonics with sliced cucumbers.