Paradise Lost

Up until not too long ago, the beach in Jbeil now exploited by Eddé Sands was called Tam Tam Beach. It stretched south to a smaller beach that was still public, called Paradise Beach. 
some things are better kept hush hush... says this building in Paris

A narrow stretch of white sand trapped between the cliffs and the sea, Paradise was just as nice as any other private beach, with the only difference that it was free and unattended.

After reading online about rumors of GiBbyish activity going on in Paradise Beach, one hot summer day I felt like trying it out to check for myself.

So I went off with a friend, settled on the sand, had a little swim then started to explore the beach. Pretty typical beach except for one natural characteristic: The rock formations at the tip of the beach shaped something of a grotto, like a little maze that still got some sunlight inside but that was completely isolated from sight. The water was about knee level throughout the grotto.

When I entered the grotto and observed the people from inside, the cruising scheme became quite obvious. It would start as eye contact on the beach, then the guys would swim around each other, perhaps get a little touchy in between a wave and the next. Then, they would start to drift slowly toward the cavern, and finally they would get to serious business once inside...

Soon enough, there I was fooling around with an anonymous hunk I had noticed on the beach... in a sea cavern… some crazy shit!

It’s only later that I realized that Paradise Beach was long known as “the gay beach” in the GiB community, but it was so hush-hush that no one had ever mentioned it to me. Like a dirty little secret.

The thing is it had a pretty bad reputation outside as well as within the community – The kind of places people would describe with something like “if you go there you’re likely to step on a needle left there at night by a junkie and you’ll be sure to catch AIDS”.

But whatever Paradise Beach was – a nice public beach or a decadent Gomorrah – it can only be better than what it has become today: yet another reserved-access beach for the lucky property owners of the new Byblos Sud complex.

Watch out new owners, for the gay spirits still haunt that grotto!

Post title is a tribute to Robert Fisk’s superb article where he dubs 2006 Beirut a Paradise Lost.


Summer Highlight III: The New Places

V-lovers come out! A new stencil's in town
Part of having a dynamic nightlife like Beirut’s, is having to live through even your favorite spot closing down. But then there’s also the new places, the new discoveries, the places that make you want to go out again just for the sake of trying something new, just to say you tried to wipe out some of that Beirut boredom routine.

Getting the chance to party in a place like the Linda Sursock Palace – even if this going to sound like the radio ad for a MixFM event – was no less than epic and memorable. Big kudos to Behind the Green Door, even if part of the credit has to go to Cotton Candy who were the first to do it a couple years ago. That would be my number one highlight of a ‘new place’, which naturally had to come from one of the players in the underground scene.

My number two would be the new clubs that focus on live music performances, that give more meat than Music Hall and more flavor than the live entertainment of the likes of Pier7: One is the Democratic Republic of Music (DRM) in Hamra, and the other one is the recently opened Angry Monkey in Gemmayze, both of which we should be thankful to for bringing back the LIVE.

Another highlight – or should I say coup-de-coeur – is the Coop d’Etat / Em Nazih complex on Pasteur street , which also houses rental rooms and spoken Lebanese Arabic classes for visiting foreigners. A cosy spot that shows you can still get a pretty crowd and a 5,000L beer.

Number four would be this cute new pubs area near the Samir Kassir memorial fountain at the Northern edge of downtown. It hosts a burger joint, a tapas bar, and a bunch of friendly little bars, all in a perfectly landscape-designed (and pedestrian!) area that gives it so much of a European feel that it makes you forget this is actually Beirut. They’re all unpretentious, and best of all they make me feel like downtown is a place for us again! (no offense to the tourists and the nouveaux riches of the solidere-town).

And then there’s the somewhat lowkey activity on the GiB scene, that barely makes it to number 5. Ghost Bar opened in Jdeide in the beginning of summer; it was dubbed “the new Acid” but it is actually more like a caricature of Acid in my mind – so not so much a summer highlight.

Finally most recently there was the opening of Le BOY in Saifi/Harbor area…It held the promise to be hot and happening (to me), until I found out it actually opened at the same location as former Milk – Le BIG disappointment! Even Barcelona’s Salvation didn’t get me to come! Vivian Shallop crowd if you read this, I promise to try it at some point to make up a fair opinion.

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