Hookah Lounges" have been opening up in cities all across the United States.
To those who are not familiar on what a "Hookah Lounge" is. A "Hookah Lounge" is a place to socialize and relax while you smoke all different flavors of tobacco through a hookah (a glass bong filtered by water with a hose coming out of it that you would inhale the tobacco through).
How it works:The hookahs are elegant and distinctive in design, resembling glass art and collectibles from the Middle Eastern culture. The hookahs vary in size (average about 2 to 3 feet), number of hoses (single to multiple smokers), colors and designs, and especially quality. They are designed like a vase with a hose coming out of the side, and a bowl (where you put tobacco) on top. The hookahs that are provided by the establishments are basic, single hose styles with, replaceable tips for multiple users. The bottom of the hookah base is filled with water, the bowl is loaded with charcoal that is lit, and once charcoal is burning the tobacco is added. Don't worry the servers of the establishments do all the preparations for you. Various flavors of tobacco are available, actually dozens, ranging from watermelon, pineapple, strawberry, grape, apple, kiwi, lime, and even pumpkin. Almost any fruit flavor or combination you can think of is available or they will be willing to mix a custom combination for you.
The flavors that are offered to you are usually listed on a menu that is supplied to you once you are seated. Prices per bowl (top of hookah) with charcoal and tobacco are about $10 and last about one hour, but will vary from location to location. Some upscale Hookah Lounges will even design the bowl out of your favorite fruit (I once smoked hookah with the head being a small hollow pumpkin). So now that we are ready, its Hookah time. First you attach your tip to the end of the hose and then you inhale. You can hear the water bubbling inside the base where the tobacco smoke it is cooled and filtered, with each and every pull, as you get the taste of your choice of flavors. Now you remove your tip and it's the next persons turn. Easy enough right? If your looking to purchase a hookah, the prices can range from around $30 and can get as high as several hundreds of dollars. The tobacco and charcoal range from about $3 to $15 depending on quality and amount of tobacco. I definitely wouldn't recommend purchasing these items at the lounges; the prices are usually much higher than in the specialty stores.
The atmosphere:The inside isn't what you would expect from a location dedicated to smoking. Actually, through my experience, I have come to find it to be the complete opposite. I am a smoker and the whole idea of it all intrigued me, so I wanted to go and give it a try. So I set out and found one of the more popular spots in my neighborhood and set off for a night of smoking hookah. When I got there I can hear music playing in the background and when I opened the door I expected to be overcome by a huge cloud of smoke, but I wasn't. I later found out that the ventilation systems in these establishments are supposed to circulate the air much more frequently than other ventilation systems, therefore the rooms aren't full of smoke and stuffy.
The insides are usually set up like a bar, some tables with stools and chairs, VIP sections with tables and couches, TV's, and some form of music (MP3, DJ, Radio), and low lighting. There is usually a bar that serves non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, and at upscale locations Middle Eastern menu items such as, gyros, humus, kabobs, etc. Very few locations offer alcoholic drinks, but there are a lot of them that will allow you to bring your own with proper identification (all persons at table must be of legal drinking age and have proper id). The entertainment will vary by location, but I have seen places with live bands, DJ's, karaoke night, belly dancers, and live sporting events on weekends. The weekdays mainly consist of a more quit and relaxed atmosphere.
Some "Hookah Lounges" advertise in local newspapers, distribute flyers, and post ads in local entertainment magazines. You may want to pick one up, so it will make it easier for you to decide which location to go to and on what days. Either way, no matter what day of the week you choose, you will definitely get a unique experience, so it's worth giving it a shot. Most locations are near colleges, downtown areas, and directed towards the college crowd, so if you don't want to be around a bunch of 21 year olds, this scene is not for you.
My recommendation is to give it a shot, go once and see what it is like. If you don't like it, what do you lose, you just won't go again. At least you got the opportunity to participate and see what this new craze is about.We all need to get out, unwind, and have a good time. One benefit is that the "Hookah Lounges" are an inexpensive way to spend the evening, especially in this economy.
One last thing to remember, even though the tobacco used in hookahs is completely different from the tobacco used in cigarettes and is much more natural, all types of smoking can lead to health risks. So regardless your choice, have a safe and enjoyable experience no matter what you do.