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Entertainment & Nightlife in Israel

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv's streets are lined with hairdressers and cafés, which will tell you something about the population of this city. Tel Avivians love to be seen and to go out. If you stay a few months in the city, you will notice that places to go out open, close and change with alarming rapidity, hinting that this is a city that loves novelty.

Allenby 58, which used to be "the" nightclub, is now gone and a state-of-the-art hairdressing salon stands in its place. Cafés and bars also tend to disappear, move location and change their image frequently. Maybe this is because Tel Aviv is a non-stop city, providing 24 hour entertainment, always experimenting, improvising and embracing new horizons.

Tel Aviv prides itself on being the cultural heartbeat of Israel. The municipality provides a huge amount of cultural events, many of them free throughout the year. For the young at heart there is a DJ competition, where the five winners host a free outdoor rave for the city. For those who love celebrating there are outdoor carnivals such as the Love Parade and Gay Pride. For the classically oriented, the Israel Philharmonic gives a free summer concert in Hayarkon Park and opera performances are broadcast live to the masses on a giant screen in July and August.

There are all sorts of festivals, celebrating food, chocolate, Irish culture, Cuban culture, jazz, Afro-American music, percussion, children's tales - and the list goes on. For Hebrew speakers, Ahba Ha'Ir (City Mouse) provides good listings of Tel Aviv events. English speakers should pick up a Friday edition of the Ha'aretz/ Herald Tribune International, which contains The Guide - a listings magazine.

Tel Aviv is where Israel's finest theatre, dance and music can be sampled. The Suzanne Dellal Centre in the historic Neve Tzedek neighbourhood is a beautifully restored building (formerly a school) which is home to the Inbal and Bat Sheva dance troupes and an impressive dance venue.

The Habima is Israel's national theatre. The Habima group which began life in 1917 in Moscow, was the first Hebrew speaking theatre. Located next door is the Mann Auditorium which houses the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Cameri Theatre, located in the upstairs of a shopping precinct on Dizengoff Street, shows thought-provoking contemporary pieces, with a simultaneous translation into English on Tuesday nights. For film lovers, there is the Cinematheque - the first institution of its kind in Israel. There are film festivals, workshops, free foyer events and the screenings of dozens of films every month.

If you're going out at night in Tel Aviv, it's worth noting that most locals don't go out until close to midnight and most cafés stay open until the wee small hours. Alcohol and pubs do not play a huge part in Israeli nightlife, instead the done thing is to sit at an outdoor café until late, late, late.

On a summer's night on the Tayelet (beach promenade) the pavements are still thick with people at 3 am. Many clubs keep on going until daylight.

You may encounter a "selectorit" at the entrance to certain very image-conscious nightclubs. This is someone who looks the potential clientele up and down and decides who looks good enough to go in. Thankfully, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed a law in December 2000, outlawing discrimination on the part of nightclubs as to who can and cannot enter. Some of the livelier areas at night include the strip of Allenby Street near Carmel market, Sheinkin Street, Florentine and areas near the beach.

The beach is a sure source of entertainment in all seasons and at all hours. In summer, it is packed body to body with both tourists and locals. But, all year round the beach is great for both people watching and wave-watching, water sports and impromptu games of football and beach tennis, night picnics, romantic walks, jogging and meditating.

On Friday nights, the alternative population of Tel Aviv gathers on Chinky Beach to drum in the sunset. Normally the crowd includes a few digeridoo players and fire jugglers.

Tel Aviv's live and let-live attitude has led to the flourishing of a lively gay community. There are numerous cafes, bars, clubs and saunas, catering to both a mixed and gay-only crowd. The The Tel Aviv Cinematheque screens gay films every month as part of its Pink Cinema Club. Hebrew speakers can pick up Varod Zman (The Pink Times) for listings information.

Tel Aviv is a magnet for those from all over the country who want to have fun and be entertained. With a country whose past is so tainted by the fight for survival, there is very much a live for the day attitude. This results in Israelis loving to go out and celebrate. The non-stop party that is Tel Aviv, is a bubble from some of the harsher realities of life in Israel. The attitude here is: Go dancing, sip coffee until late and "yihiye beseder" (everything will be fine).

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