February 24th, 2012
YOU NEVER KNOW WHO’S BEEN HERE.
A night out doesn’t have to be big, or glitzy to be fun. All you need is a good corner to perch, and the right company. In fact, it seems to me that big places, with lots of money splashed out on the decor often find themselves thin on that thing you just can’t generate artificially — atmosphere. It’s there, or it isn’t.
In Beyoglu’s Atlas Pasaji — about 150 meters from the gate of Galatasary Lisessi, if you’re walking towards Taksim — is Sefahathane, one of my favorite night spots. In the columned space between Atlas Sinema‘s box office and the stair to its large theatre is one my favorite spots in the world. It’s one of those spaces that defy the need to be big on anything but atmosphere. Like Torino Express in Beirut, or the Manx Pub where I grew up, these narrow spaces contain a mood that’s never artificial. Perhaps it’s the fact that the servers and the management don’t expend a lot of effort trying to be ‘cool.’ They just are.
THE BAR STAFF: LOTS OF ATTITUDE. ZERO PRETENSE.
I’ve been visiting this spot on and off since I first came to the city, almost seven years, but it’s been here longer, some 20 years, long before Beyoglu’s revival as the city’s entertainment district. And now it’s got some new management. Selim Güsar, a regular patron of the establishment since its inception has just recently taken over the lease and is introducing some new ideas, involving live music and entertainment, such as percussionists and piano players who will work in step with the talent at the turntables. Güsar and partners are no strangers to the world of music, and unlike many ambitious new managers with big dreams, they seem to me more likely to thicken the bar’s atmosphere, rather than thin it out. After all, they’ve been part of the scene for 20 years.
PIANO PLAYER AND SINGER STEAL PHOTOGRAPHER’S HAT, LOSE THEMSELVES IN THE MOMENT.
SEFAHATHANE OPENED ON THE BEYOGLU BAR SCENE 20 YEARS AGO.
No matter what, if you’re in the neighborhood, want a drink and a snug corner to wedge yourself in for the evening, I suggest you pop in. The night tends to start mellow and then suddenly, out of nowhere, it seems the place is jammed to the rafters. Perhaps that’s because it’s also got something else you can’t fake in the fickle world of nightlife. History.
Maybe it’ll become part of yours.
THE NEW MANAGEMENT, A PATRON WITH HISTORY: SELIM GÜSAR.