Political instability and regional violence have never been enough to stop nightlife in its tracks, and now enterprising club kids and restaurateurs are making a go of it in Iraq's capital: "A slew of new restaurants have opened in [Baghdad] this year," the Times reports. "All boast of having thick shatterproof glass." Antoine al-Hage, in particular, a sort of Middle Eastern Paul Sevigny, opened the Beatrice of Baghdad last month, a Lebanese restaurant-lounge, the Lebanese Club:
"The Lebanese Club is part Beirut, part Dubai, part Miami lounge circa 'Scarface,' without the cocaine. 'A classy place,' Mr. Hage says, and though there is a suggestion of maternal praise in his estimation, he is right that the club has no peer in Baghdad, in its scale, ambition or, most certainly, décor. Red, golds and browns accent the chrome, leather, glass and faux alligator skin on the columns ... Patrons gaze on a view of the Tigris that was once the preserve of the palaces for Saddam Hussein’s wife and brother-in-law. At night, Mr. Hage mingles among the clubgoers, ever the host."
Hage thinks there's money to be made in Iraqi nightlife now: "Simply put, for a decade, he has trailed America’s imperial pursuits. 'Wherever the Americans are, we are,' he said." The club cost $2.5 million to build, but investors expect to make that money back within the year.
Certain safety exceptions are not even made for high-profile guests:
"However loudly you protest, you still have to check your gun at the restaurant’s door. (Customers take valet tickets in return.)"