I haven’t been to many hookah lounges in Vancouver. It is something I typically engage in on vacation as a vibe, and only in Malaysia or Mexico (apparently). But tonight we were visiting it as an after dinner activity, something different with the opportunity for me to practicing blowing smoke “O’s”.
The name of the lounge translates to “noise” according to my hookah partner. A bit of a contradiction given the stillness in the room and the early 00’s r&b and hip hop, slow jam playlist. It was intentionally calming and melodic, whereas I wanted something more upbeat, as that was the mood we were in.
The shoppe is an intimate space with a fabric tented ceiling and lights that strobed colour. The room was kept dim and compact with artifacts. The multitude of framed portraits and gilded accoutrement added to the authenticity of the place. That and each hookah apparatus being labeled as hailing from Egypt.
You enter the small space and head to the desk at the back of the room. A clutter of knick knacks and a collection of ornamental hookahs in varying sizes. Here, the owner/care taker takes your order. You are basically just choosing which fruity flavour of shisha, (a molasses-based tobacco concoction smoked in a hookah) that you want. The flavours include apple, grape, orange, strawberry, lemon, or mixed fruit; each the same $20 fee. We went for the watermelon upon my request. I like the flavour and you don’t often see it on other fruit focused menus. As for the taste, it tasted exactly as expected, and more so when you breathe in with the tip of your tongue out.
The chalky brick of shisha is torched on fire. With its embers glowing, it sits on a pedestal wrapped in tinfoil. You breathe in its smoke through a nozzle at the end of a tube, that connects to the base of the hookah. You know it is working when you see the water bubble and sound, at the bottle of it. For hygiene reasons, each smoker gets their own nib to place in the tube, you use this to suck in smoke through your mouth; and it is discarded after your visit.
The notion and activity offers something to do and a place to do it in, all at an affordable price. Coupled with a light head high, if you are doing it right. At first I was sheepish about sharing the confided space so closely with the others that were already seated on couches and chairs. Gathered together, but in their own twosomes surrounding their own hookah, stationed on a knee-height table. However, given the close proximity to one another, we were able to engage with a few of these other groups: exchanging commentary on the music choice, and sharing tips on how to blow smoke doughnuts. Overall a great experience, and something different to try.
1322 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 3M5