Since I haven't been able to get any gigs yet, I have been trying to stay positive and practice as much as I can. I try to deepen my understanding of my muscles and movements and also try to see what patterns I've gotten accustomed to doing, breaking dance habits and trying to create something fresh. Often I will video improvisations just to playback and observe these things. It can be VERY helpful and sometimes (just sometimes!) I will like it and share with friends.
Here are two improvisations from the past two months that I felt happy about and also that did something new for me. In both there are a lot of isolations, sweeping arm movements, and the attempt to portray the songs as best as I can.
first song: Beats Antique Remix of "Makaan" by Natacha Atlas
second song: "Amphibian Circuits" by Dirtwire
THE TRASH WOMEN OF ISTANBUL
Your big laugh echoes
down the street, convincing me
that life’s not so bad.
THE TRASH MEN OF ISTANBUL
These streets were not made
with you in mind, up-down-up
hope lost and hope gained.
pushes my insides high up
to my throat with guilt.
THE OLD MEN WHO SMOKE
outside on their swivel chairs
think and stare and smoke.
ALL I CAN SEE ARE YOUR EYES
I don’t mind your scarf
all I can see are your eyes
as they window shop.
Girls here link their arms
like we used to, like it would
save us or something.
As I walk to work in Istanbul I pass by beggars: children just a few years older than my daughter, mothers with their bundled babies and old women selling packets of tissues for a Lira. I am not a rich person and at this point in time barely financially sound but sometimes I will give them some change. These moments, which since I have been in Turkey I can count on one hand, always have such a strong impact on me that I think about it for days and days, like I am recovering from something.
I want to emphasize here that my reaction is not much to do with my action... that is to say that I am not incredibly impressed with what I did or think it some grand step for humankind. Rather, my reaction is more of a realization of how closed off I was up until that moment of giving, just so that I don't feel too much. My reaction is really my reacquaintance with the truth of my emotional, compassionate, tender and sensitive nature, all of which are aspects that I hide and harden at times in order to cope with problems, enjoy the world and maintain healthy and growing relationships.
As far back as I can remember I have been an emotional type: easily humored, easily inspired, easily depressed and easily teary-eyed. Not only did my acquaintances with the world through travel deeply imbed the visions of poverty and desperation, but the little things of day-to-day life would bring me to moral decisions. My willing imagination gave feelings to inanimate objects and I would create groups and families of types, colors, petal and leaf shapes. I wanted everything to feel fair... even if it couldn't really feel. I wanted everything to feel like it wasn't alone, and thus I began to cope through creating communities. Communities of stuffed animals, communities of beads, communities of m&m's and communities of seeds. I felt that is something was alone it was afraid and would prefer to be paired up with one of it's kind, whether that be on a shelf, in the ground or in my belly!
The thought has often crossed my mind, "is this like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?" but I don't think it's quite the right fit. Instead it is something like "Emotionally Ever-Expansive" or "Compassion Unraveled"... "Compassion Unrivaled"? I know I am not alone here. The scene in American Beauty when the two teenagers are watching one of the boys home videos and he says:
"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in."
That final line is perfect to me. That is how I feel! I have taken to a new habit, since I am seeing so many new things here in Istanbul, of taking a quick second to close my eyes like the shutter of a camera when I see something that makes me feel this way; something I wish I could capture and share. The woman peeking under her Turkish coffee cup to see her fortune, the beautiful Syrian refugee mother walking through the Metro station with her family, the young men walking with arms around each other, the woman's sideways glance from behind her burqa at the revealing lace and sequined gowns in a store window... I take an extended blink as if my lashes press the image deeper into my memory to recall upon for inspiration.
I think I have been an expat long before now, even while residing in “my country” of the United States of America. My upbringing was a training to leave and the evolution of my attitude towards my hometown were the stepping stones to my eventual expatriation. As my opinions and beliefs regarding American politics, media and the government developed, I day-dreamed more and more about leaving. It isn’t a strong part of my character that has wanted to “abandon ship” and it doesn’t agree with all the things I feel. I feel a lot about all of those things, I have an opinion, but in actuality I was doing very little about it. Posting my opinion about Palestine on Facebook was not really an action as much as I love to imagine all 1409 of my “friends” reading it and agreeing with me. So to live in a place where many aspects of the country infuriate me and at the same time be in a personal or emotional place where I don’t or can’t prioritize making a difference resulted in a very helpless and pathetic feeling me. This, along with other things I will explain, was one deep underlying reason for me wanting to leave the United States.
I was raised inside the fascination of the worlds cultures, constantly seeking more and indulging in the magic of the Eastern religions, the tastes from roadside kitchens, the masks of ancient art forms. We left as much and spent as long away as we could afford to. My mind held onto the magic, the tastes… the steam of rice dishes and sweet purity of fresh tropical fruits. My heart held onto the sight of poverty and the way it would induce a harsh and sudden appreciation for all that I have. All of me held onto the knowledge that there is so much more than what we are born into and if made a priority, one can experience it and possibly achieve a higher level of awareness and understanding. I had a beautiful illustrated book about Siddhartha and I could always relate to his secret trip to town, where he first witnessed sick people, poverty and death. That is how traveling felt for me… transformative and therefor irreplaceable. Without seeing these things that give perspective it is like living your whole life blind. The way I’ve said it to friends considering a trip: “There is no better education than to travel the world.”
Obviously not everywhere else is some tropical paradise. And so I find myself in a “somewhere else” that looks a lot like home. This city has tall buildings, malls, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, playgrounds, hamburgers and french fries; men drenched in cologne and women wearing high heels in the rain. In many ways this is just like the United States of America, aside from it being an Islamic country, though the governments power via this matter doesn’t seem so different to me as the so-called “Democracy” of the U.S.A.
Yet here I am an “expat.”
I didn’t realize that we were going to be called that, I didn’t think about it. I remember my mom using the term when we were in Thailand. I always associated expats with a grey-haired white men from America, England or Australia who moved to a third-world country and married a native girl who was, usually, quite a bit younger. They would relax for the rest of their lives and live comfortably, if not lavishly, with her cooking all his meals and him inviting his friends to visit, usually convincing at least one of them to stay and join him on a life of remarkably real affordable happiness.
We are expats here, young and brown-haired with our toddler daughter. We do not live lavishly, we do not shop for things we don’t need; we do not live much differently than the average local in our neighborhood. We seek out the cheap markets and while our apartment is spacious and lovely, there were a few cockroaches living with us during the first week of transition from vacant to occupied (by humans). Needless to say, my definition of “expat” has changed dramatically since becoming one.
No one called me one, I only realized my new identity because I was searching for answers about where to find things or do things in Istanbul that were centered on being a resident and I kept on being brought to websites that were “A Guide for Expats in Turkey” and titles like that. And so I realized, “A-hah, I am an expat!” and then, “Wait…where’s my fresh papaya and pad thai?”
Before I left, and since I’ve been here, many people asked me, “Why move to Turkey?” and while I understand that California and The Bay Area in particular are incredibly beautiful places to live, I think it is also a bit of a curse to be born there. Now don’t get mad and let me explain. I only consider it to be a curse because if you’re someone with a soul like mine, someone who longs to see other places and re-root somewhere else in the world. For me it is painful to be from the Bay Area. With it’s beautiful land, incredible art scene that bounds boldly to all ends of the spectrum, the coast, the mountain, the food, the nature and the great schools, the Bay Area is a Utopia. But my soul has longed to leave home and because of all it’s great qualities, I feel unfortunate to call it “home”! I am often jealous of people we were born and raised there and have no desire to leave but to get to know it better and become those awesome experts of their habitat. Those people who test our tons of different Pho restaurants and know which farmer’s market is best and weird shortcuts through the city. Cheers to you! I seriously and very genuinely applaud you.
Of course I am grateful to have been raised there. Childhood in Bolinas was like a dream with it’s wonderful seasons of blackberry pickin’ , puddle stomping, cliff-climbing and hot beach days. It is a truly enchanting place that I was and am proud to be from. I look back fondly on the first 18 years of my life that were primarily spent there, give or take the half-time that occurred once I was in high school (us Bolinas kids usually end up finding at least one surrogate family “over-the-hill” just so we don’t have to take the hour-long bus ride over Mt. Tam every morning and evening of the school week). I think that those years of development within a place that is surrounded by wild nature and a community of eccentrics and artists is healthy because kids there tend to be more open-minded and accepting of things and people that may not be “normal”. At least that’s how I felt until I was 18.
A sad, violent and shocking event occurred in Bolinas that changed my view of it for quite a while and was a large reason for why I was so keen to move away. Without going into to detail, a group of my peers attacked and actually attempted to kill a man who was not a local, but had been staying in Bolinas for a few months. I could not understand why. Even after town-meetings and hearing their many reasons or excuses… I couldn’t see it from their side. And it was on this note that many long, some life-long, friendships I had were cut off and I moved to Berkeley, disconnecting myself from my hometown but still residing in my “home” of the Bay Area. This was the first time I expatriated myself. I barely visit much and when I did return for one summer I spent most of my time over-the-hill or with a different group of friends in town, mostly adults whose ages sat strangely perfectly between my mom and I so we just shared them.
Between the years of 2008 and 2011 I lived in two different apartments in Berkeley and then with my boyfriend at the time, Andy, who was also my best friend. We lived in a few different places within the East Bay and during one summer we lived at our parents houses (though like I said before, I really spent most of my time at his house… I even had a drawer for my clothes). Eventually we got a place in Emeryville with a roommate and had our own house. It was all good fun until someone broke in and stole a bunch of our stuff. I know that I may sound like a wuss, especially to all you who have lived in Oakland, but we packed up all our stuff that night and left. If the set up of the house and property have been better then I may have reacted differently, but it wasn’t like most blocks in the East Bay. This house stood alone with a lot of space between it and the other houses and a weirdly huge and open backyard that made it very visible from all angles. It was like a perfect little target for any one to check out and break into. After that we got a very safe studio apartment in the heart of Downtown Berkeley and we lived there until 2011 when we broke up and parted ways.
It wasn’t long before the love of my life, and now father of my child, moved up to the Bay and we officially became something, not just summer loves. Now, I must warn you that from this point onward my housing luck (or rather, our housing luck) just kept getting worse and worse. The only gem of positivity I can find in it is that our shitty experiences together only made our togetherness stronger and our ability to behave and think like a team was sharpened. I won’t go into detail on all the places we lived at, of which there were many, but the experiences included a vanilla extract addict, a swinger party-throwing and prostitute-hiring landlord, a prostitute neighbor tenant (suprisingly, the last two were in different cities… maybe they know each other though), a psychotically angry roommate and his hysterical girlfriend, a renting through family disaster, an over-controlling roommate and a live-work situation with people who didn’t trust us. It has been quite a ride. Of course within all of that there were good bits, staying with our good friends in Berkeley for the most part and there were really great times at some of those places even if the roommates sucked or the landlords we jerks. But in the end, when something wasn’t right, we would eventually move on. At one point we built our own little wagon and left Northern California for warmer weather; it felt like we were escaping in that sweet mini-home. I can barely find the words to describe how much of a sanctuary that wagon was; a hand built and necessary, even if only momentary, protective shell for our little family.
I also want to point out that I understand there is more to the United States than California, but not many other states attract me as places to live. Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas have caught my interest before for school and dance reasons, and I would love to visit New York City… my family has land in Wyoming that I would love to see, but where else in the United States would I want to actually live? It’s not just about whether the land is pretty or if I’m close to the ocean, whether there is a nice city or a job waiting for me. It’s also whether or not there are incredible dancers for me to see and study with, whether or not there are musicians for my husband to learn from or perform with, if there are places to perform, and I think most of all: is there a culture we are interested in.
I’ve taken part in the “American Culture” discussion many times and I used to say that there isn’t one. That is not true, there is definitely an American Culture. It’s just very new and very spread out and different from many cultures across the globe, it is infinitely multi-faceted. The United States is a huge place and within it there are cultures and countercultures and endless types of people and ways of being. But to say “I’m American” and have that mean more than just where you were born is a bit of a stretch. Because of the multi-faceted nature of American Culture one person walking down the street could be a African-American Wiccan Woman who works at a thrift store and another person walking down the street could be an Irish descent man from the countryside who recently converted to Islam. There are certain places was there is more of a norm, but if you’re in the Bay, for instance, there’s really no telling who anyone is!
So when asked, “Why move to Turkey?” this is what I wish to say:
Aside from us both having the types of souls that seek something fresh and untried, we also both seem to marvel at the existence of a primary culture: it is mentally arousing, personally challenging and a stimulation and education for the soul.
The culture that exists here is old, even if there are gleaming new aspects to it; even if there are awesome and appropriate new countercultures. It is a place that has always made sense: a crossroads for trade, for knowledge. A bridge between two continents. A land of treasure and battles; history has been made here before. People have combined here. Empires built and lost here.
The fact that the culture is old and seems so set in stone makes it feel like there is some structure to how things are here. It isn’t an American free-for-all. While I don’t doubt that many walls need to be broken down or updated (this is both literal and metaphorical), I think that the existence of this structure is a good thing, it is the skeleton of this ancient place.
As for my soul… the hunger to be somewhere new and untried has been fed for now. But hey, there’s still the whole world out there. That is said with a smile and was my go-to short answer for the frequently asked question, “Why move to Turkey?” and then I’d like to turn it around and ask, “Why stay in the United States?”
"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." -Saint Augustine
I can think privately as much as I want, but there is nothing like being questioned only to find my true opinion within the spontaneous answer. For instance, a woman came to a party at our house the other night and asked me an array of questions all of which were centered on the main curiosity of the difference between the United States and Turkey for me. I can elaborate here and maybe say things more clearly. So far, there are some things that are incredibly similar and familiar, especially since we live in Istanbul which is an urban metropolis. I think my answers would vary greatly if I were comparing rural Turkey to “the United States”. So I’ll just compare Istanbul to the cities I’ve lived in within the U.S. which are, by the way, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Diego.
The first thing that comes to mind is the state of the city when it comes to cleanliness, air quality, poverty and buildings. Most of the streets here are closer in likeness to the streets of Asia, much dirtier than the streets of any of the U.S. cities I’ve lived in, give-or-take a few back-alleys in Oakland or San Francisco. I asked someone in a store if I could throw something away and they gestured toward the street and laughed at me like I was ridiculous. There are garbage men who collect the endless trash bags that people throw onto the street or from the occasional large bins that are sometimes on the corner of blocks (we are lucky to have these on our street). It doesn’t seem like most people separate recycling and trash but there are some poor people who pull around huge bag-like containers and search for recycling in the trash which I assume they bring somewhere to sell by weight. We decided to separate ours so it would be easier for them. I saw such a young boy pulling one of those containers the other night, full after a long days “harvest” and his mother was walking beside him, trudging up the hill of our street. I thought that the hills of this city must make this boy so frustrated, since he wants as much weight as possible, but probably despises the weight almost as much.
The air is thick, full of cigarette smoke and the sweet smell of roasting chestnuts which are sold by vendors on all the main streets. These scents combined with the frequent bakeries makes Istanbul a very warm and delicious-smelling city; it reminds me of fathers and uncles, winter holidays and one of the best things in the world: bread.
The buildings are a perfect metaphor for Istanbul: half old, half new. Even on super busy main roads it feels like an almost perfect pattern of old, new, old, new… I started wondering if they can only renovate a certain amount of buildings per block or not more than two beside each other. I enjoy the pattern because the stark, boring new buildings make the beautiful details of the old stand out even more. Sometimes though, the old buildings have lost most of their beauty and are actually close to being ruins: walls falling crumbling, windows missing, roofs collapsed. They look unlivable to me but I’ve seen lights on in the window and laundry hung out on makeshift lines.
I see more beggars out at night: a crippled man, small dirty children with clothes and shoes that don’t fit right, mothers with their babies and children. Being a mother, it is difficult for me to see little babies on the street, their huge eyes peering up at all the people walking by just inches from them. It makes me wonder about what they think of the world, from this strange position below the bustling businessmen and brisk rich wives walking home from the mall. The constant perspective alone must be having a strong impact on their literal view of the world. It makes me sad of course, but I cannot afford to help them with money; I have given them food. However, for those of you who have been to Asia, the amount of beggars here are minuscule in comparison and not in as bad of shape physically or in general. They seem to be warm enough and I see restaurants and stores put out food and boxes of produce that has gone a little over it’s prime so it’s possible for the poor to get food, even relatively healthy food. They may eat more salad than a lot of wealthy people we know!
Speaking of supplying food… I have never lived somewhere that has so many fat and healthy street cats. Barely anyone owns a cat but lots of people buy cat food and make little perches for them outside their windows. Even more than that, people build little apartments for the cats out of old drawers and cardboard boxes, decking them out with soft blankets, old sweaters and scarves, bring them new plates of food every day. These cats are stoked, and, as a result, not very whiney at all. The same is done for dogs although there are much less of them in comparison. Most of the ones I’ve seen have little tag earrings which means they’ve been documented and given shots. The fact that they have these didn’t really eliminate my fear when two of them decided to jump on me the other night, paws on my back and shoulders and smelling my hair and purse. Luckily they weren’t aggressive and backed off after I yelled one big “NO!”.
A frightening aspect of Istanbul is the driving and traffic. In the United States I feel like even though people may speed sometimes or run the occasional red-light, the majority of people are respecting the laws and also pay close attention to pedestrians and emergency vehicles. Here, it is as if cars were created without the option to go in reverse. I said this to Ryan the other day and he looked at me so genuinely and said, “They don’t have reverse in Turkish cars.” and I totally believed him. This is not just a testament to my gullibility, but even more so about how aggressively people drive! No one wants to come to complete stop, no one wants to back up. Never. It’s like it would insult Turkishness which, in case you didn’t know, is an actual crime here (check out Article 301: Turkish Penal Code). We were walking along a bigger multi-lane freeway the other day and there was thick traffic and an ambulance blaring, trying to make it’s way ahead of everyone. We watched not one, not two, but three taxis speed in front of the ambulance because you know, their job is so much more important.
Now, moving away from describing the city, to my experience so far and how it feels to be here as a woman, a foreigner and a mother. I have to say I feel like I have two completely different selves here but don’t worry, it’s not in a scary psycho way, just in the way the locals see me. This depends entirely on whether I walk out of the door with my family or by myself.
When we go out as a family we are immediately defined, identified, adored and accepted. The fact that we speak little to no Turkish is irrelevant because we are a family. That essentially means we are good people headed down the right path and our doing our duties as human beings. Szabina is doted upon and gifted constantly with toys, treats and many praises (to God no less!). Now, I should point out that in the U.S. I felt like we were judged as a family because of our ages. There it seems much more acceptable and commendable to do the regular track: complete high school, get into a good college where you will meet your true love, earn your degrees together and get jobs in your desired professions. But that is not all… no, no, no! Then you need to get married and using your massive savings and wedding gift money buy yourself a 4 bedroom 2 bath with a nice backyard, paint a nursery, get a dog, and then talk about “trying”. My family is the exact opposite of all of these things. We represent the unplanned, illegitimate and unorganized. We are young, unmarried and degree-less. In the United States we are poor dreamers and artists with baby in tow. But not here…
Here it feels like the fact that we are young and have a child is the way it should be; we are some link to the past, the good ol’ days (I wonder if they have a phrase like this in Turkish). Heck, I should’ve been popping out babies since I was 16 according to the good ol’ days! Also, we take full advantage of the fact that nobody knows us so we just say that we are married just to smooth that bit over in the fragile and easily offended traditional mindset of a monotheistic country. I love going out with Ryan and Szabina because we meet lots of people, make new friends, practice more Turkish and learn more because people like to explain things to our 2 year-old. And she impresses them with her “Merhaba” and counting and “Iyi gunler!”. Going out together is also easier because between Ryan and I together, we can usually understand a bit more of what someone is trying to tell us. And we both soak up different grammar points or notice different things and then point it out to each other. Also, it’s totally normal for a complete stranger to walk up to us and either touch Szabina or try to pick her up. Depending on the setting and her mood (or whether or not she likes the person) this can either be sweet or stressful. As a foreigner I don’t want to offend them but above anything I am a mother and will protect my child even if it’s just her being cranky. As an emotionally sensitive person I try hard to treat her emotions like I want people to treat mine. Usually just telling people that she is tired works but sometimes it’s a relief to have Ryan there because he is more assertive and get’s the message across more clearly.
Everything is different when I go out alone. I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb whether it be because of my long uncovered hair, blue eyes, dress or gender. I am looked at so intensely and sternly that I cannot figure out why. It doesn’t matter if it is a man or woman looking at me, I can’t tell what they are thinking. In the U.S. if someone looked at me for that long and looking at my whole body it usually felt like there was a fairly clear motivation or inspiration behind it. Here it could be just as easily by judgement as it could be attraction. I don’t necessarily have a preference considering I’m not looking for either type of attention. I try to dress respectfully but also be myself. Almost every day I wear blue jeans, a t-shirt, boots, scarf and jacket. In my neighborhood there are more family-types and older people, but three blocks toward the center and there are tons of young people: students, teachers, tourists, businessmen and businesswomen. Compared to many women I see from that point onward toward the fashion shopping area, I would consider my attire to be very conservative. However you see a hot young woman in her sheer tights, short skirt and heels and just a few paces ahead of her is a woman in a full burqa with only her eyes showing. It’s all so old and new! Or perhaps the right words are: “Traditional and Modern”?
I saw a girl in front of an English Language school… she was wearing her hijab tightly pinned on and her dress was unflattering and practically floor-length… but below it her Converse sneakers were poking out. In one hand she held a cigarette and the other was scrolling over her iPhone. If I could choose one person I have seen so far to represent how I see Istanbul, it was her.
I like my house filled with music and smelling like a fresh pot of Mercimek Corba soup, with Szabina running around happily or, more likely, climbing on one of the musicians and being her sweet self.
I like having a bit of a work schedule now, it gives me incentive to do other things because I have time at that moment, like dancing.
I still don't have any mirrors but because of the light that comes through our big window I've been practicing with my shadow... it's only slightly distorted.
I like preparing for classes and private lessons, since English is my native language there are definitely things that I'm relearning!
I like baklava... I LOVE baklava when it's the really good stuff!
Most of all, I love watching my little girl learn so many new things every day, whether we are just at home or going out into this new world we moved to. She remembers full sentence from some of her books and random references. She draws with intent now (mostly "Moooons" "Dragons" and "Egg"). Whenever Ryan is leaving the house she asks him is he has his keys (just like I do) and also took on my warning of "careful!" when something seems like it might fall or is unbalanced.
She is so amazing!
p.s. we're having a party tonight so prepare for some awesome videos of music and fun ;)
The past week or so has been all about our apartment which was a great find. It is about 50 years old and has super tall ceilings, wood floors in the living room, a bedroom for us and an extra one that we hope to rent out to a friend or cool housemate. I spent a little while yesterday making posts for craigslist: for us as private English teachers, for the room, for me as a dance teacher and finally for me as a performer.
Today I went back to the cafe to check me e-mail, hoping for responses, and was excited to see some in my inbox... unfortunately, they were both from men who were wanting to hire me to perform for them privately.
I didn't even reply.
I can't really say that I am surprised, especially for where I am and the types of people you find on the internet but I was still disappointed. Hopefully I'll make some real human connections soon and perform!
It also started snowing here and just a few minutes outside get's you wishing for the comfort of home, heater and food!
We both got some teaching hours and will start over the next few days so the money will start coming in again instead of only going out (new apartment fees, kitchenwares, food, misc. spendings). Luckily, the neighborhood we moved to is chalk-full of English language schools and it is a very desired thing here, especially from native Americans- that's us! Some of our friends were talking about starting a California-specific language class... how fun would that be! Learn how to talk like you're a surfer from Santa Cruz... rad.
That's all for now, my toes are cold and I'm going to head back to the apartment.
where's the music?
I learned something strange tonight. Over the past few years the Turkish government has been seriously effecting the nightlife and music scene of Istanbul. Starting with the law that bar's can't have tables in front of their business because that meant that people were drinking outside, and now with the law that people can't smoke inside. On top of that, now bar's can't promote their business based on alcohol...
1. The bars are often so small that having tables outside is almost a necessity if you are also going to have a stage with musicians.
2. The people here SMOKE. They smoke a lot. Creating this separation (though much more pleasant for us non-smokers) makes everything feel so split up. I hate to say it but the bars I've been to that do still allow smoking (I'm not sure if they are just breaking the law or if it's according to the size of the room?) feel like everyone wants to stay in there and be together.
3. Bar's can't promote their business based on alcohol... they are BARS. *smacks own forehead in confusion
It seems that the repercussion of all these rules and regulations is that the bars are not making enough money to afford the incredible musicians that are here! So, walking down what is the music strip off of Istiklal pretty much all you see and hear are Turkish Pop covers played by either one man with a Saz or guitar, sometimes with a small backup band. Not too exciting, I'll tell you that much. But the bars still want live music and it's what they can afford.
I am glad that the musicians I want to see aren't budging on their price, because they are worth a lot. I'm just wondering if I'll ever get to see them at a regular place and not at a 50+ Lira fancy dinner show performance.
For now I'll just listen to songs of the late Selim Sesler and dance around my living room.
Just another hole in the wall place... pretty much a huge closet filled with my dreams.
E N J O Y!