In retrospect, it was a kick-ass night! Fun evenings are like blessings, you notice them after they happen. After much traffic, heat, humidity, getting from one cab to another, I finally met my friend and her sister at ABC Debayeh (a mall) at around 7pm. The “Mashroo3 Leila” (a pretty amazing Lebanese band) concert was set to start at 8:30pm in Byblos, which is around a 30 minute ride from ABC Debayeh… if there is no traffic. But it’s Lebanon, it’s Friday night and it’s summer… “There is traffic” would be a terrible understatement that holds apocalyptic repercussions. We waited for her friends to pick us up… and we waited… waited until it was 8:30pm.
That was when we decided to take matters into our own hands and take a Service (cab) all the way to Byblos. For all those who are familiar with Lebanese transportation, you would know that we were about to undertake a quasi-impossible feat of epic proportions. We stood on the highway and asked the first cab that passed how much he would charge us to get there. He answered: “two dollars each”. Now, again, for those who are familiar with Lebanese transportation, you would know that such a “deal” is almost impossible to come by. So we squeezed in the back seat and hoped for the best.
With all of what we may call traffic, for lack of a stronger term, we got to Byblos at 9:45pm… more than an hour had passed. We ran to the concert and enjoyed the last few songs because by 10:30, it was over.
The place was almost full, thousands were there, the band was full of energy which they passed on generously. The songs were absolutely original, fun and funny, beautiful to listen to and a heck of a beat to dance to. The lead singer is a hilarious, charismatic person that draws you in and doesn’t let go. The stage was filled with TVs that displayed static, creating a troubling yet very funky atmosphere. The musicians were thoroughly enjoying their performance and the good vibes just kept on flowing! It is simply beautiful to hear your own spoken language in the songs, to hear things we relate to, to see language stripped to its bear minimum sometimes “im bimbilila7” and still have a funny yet extremely strong message about the situation in Lebanon and patriarchy. Whereas a song like “Shim el Yasmine”… well it just might be one of the saddest, most beautiful love songs I’ve heard in Arabic. Just wished the concert lasted longer!
Afterwards, we drove around the streets of Byblos, more than once, in circles, trying to find a place to grab a bite, a drink or just relieve our aching feet and my friend’s agonizing pain due to her new red Converse shoes. The city was packed, people traveled the narrow and sinuous streets like ants who knew that it would rain at any minute. Merchants were standing on the sidewalk, selling jewelry and local products such as oil and soap. Young people in uniforms (probably Scouts, couldn’t really tell) were playing music and marching around. A young woman and her friends were in funky outfits celebrating a bachelorette party. The city was pregnant with people, music and food.
We therefore decided to head back to Beirut and relax in a small pub on Hamra Street: “Rabbit Hole”. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, it’s definitely a place you’d want to visit! It’s a pub that, unlike other pubs in Gemayzeh, understands the concept of background music. Instead of loud and mind-numbing techno, we listened to Oasis, Eric Clapton, Beatles… The good stuff. Service was impeccable, the complementary nachos and dip they kept on comin’! We talked of dramatic love stories, careers and good Cuban food.
When I got back home, I sent my friend a message:
“Cheers to a two dollar cab ride to Byblos, to seven dollars worth of units spent in one day making calls, to half a kick-ass concert, to a fun drink in a hole. Cheers to a rocky yet all in all wonderful evening!”