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99 Problems Semiramis Ain’t One

Don’t Drink and Dive

Sometimes you just need a drink. Most of the time, even that's impossible, especially in Maadi.

Here’s a proposal for reducing traffic that I will be submitting to the People’s Assembly: open some cool clubs in Heliopolis, 6th October and Maadi. This way we wouldn’t all have to drive downtown every Thursday and Friday night. Plus, it would reduce the distances people have to travel after they’ve had one too many. It’s a perfect solution.

As it stands now, if it’s the weekend, you live in one of these outlying areas, and are too lazy to move, your options are grim. The choice is between expensive and painfully boring hotel bars or cheap and painfully filthy dive bars with no windows, featuring cheap drinks, the smell of stale beer and staler perfume, and sticky menus that put you off even thinking about eating.

At least now Helio has L’Aubergine and Amici, but Maadi doesn’t have squat. So the only viable options are the dive bars like Red Onion, which is just no; Boss Bar I think closed some time ago and if it reopened they haven’t told anybody; you can have a shisha and a beer at Abu Said, but it’s uber quiet; which really only leaves you with Pub 55, a true dive bar underneath Villa 55 on Road 9.

This is desperation. Every time I go in there I have to take a shower afterwards and feel bad about myself in the morning. It’s a weird, weird place. Some people get off on this sort of thing. They find dive bars vaguely thrilling. I suppose if you like drinking beer straight out of the bottle because you don’t trust the glasses…

First, there’s this tight door policy. A couple of unsmiling, muscle-bound bouncers asking if you have reservations (of course not) but let you in anyway (only to discover that the place is practically empty).

The décor is dated and disgusting. I doubt they’ve changed anything in thirty years. It could be remade into a really cool club, but apparently the owners like it this way because the clients like it this way: dark, dingy, smoky, loud, and understaffed. Like the doormen, the servers feel they’re doing you a favor by paying any attention to you at all. Never once have I been there without totally giving up on them and going directly to the bar myself to order, pay the check, ask them to let some air into the place, or beg them to turn down the music.

Occasionally they will get a decent singer, but the sound system is so bad, it’s hard to tell. And the DJs they dig up all think they’re playing Pacha Sharm El Sheikh. There is something utterly surreal about some funked-up kid cranking techno tunes to an audience that consists of three, forty-something MILFs posing for each other’s pictures and a taxi driver watching a football match, who consumes a single Stella approximately every two and a half hours.

Who’s to say? Maybe they dig it. Maybe this is why they come. When, on occasion, it gets busy, Pub 55 fills up with Egyptians trying to be American and Americans trying to be Egyptian, a truly creepy environment. The dress code for men is open white shirts and gold chains; for women, silicone, collagen and a bad, blonde dye jobs. These two groups enjoy each others’ company and, from a sociological perspective ,it’s all rather fascinating, but from a patron’s point of view, the ewwwwwww factor is off the charts. This is not the kind of place where you will want to go drink if you’re depressed, but it is the kind of place where you will leave depressed because you went there to drink.