“Do you have the time” I should have said no !
photo by Rob Sheridan

A note to the responsible traveler. When I first came to Istanbul, I was mesmerized by the beauty of everything I saw, from the beautiful architecture and landscape to the colorful clothes people wore, with their open arms and great hospitality and of course that included the fair beings of the opposite sex. Being a young red-blooded male, I was interested in the nightlife of this wonderful city and back in the 90’s there weren’t as many bars and clubs as there are today. There were places where I could eat great food and mime the words to Turkish songs I could never learn, just to feel part of the group, but there weren’t many bars and clubs to boogy the night away.

Bearing in mind that the Turkish people are very friendly, I wasn’t disturbed when a shady looking man stopped and asked me the time. “Ah my friend, you are English” he said. “Yes, Yes” I replied thinking he was going to say he had a long distant relative somewhere in the UK and ask if I knew them. Oh how I was wrong! He actually asked me, all being without any pressure, if I wanted to go to the best club in town, he even described it as being an elitist kind of place full of foreigners. Wow, now this sounds exactly what I’m looking for, I thought. I was very intrigued and decided to follow him, he assured me that it wasn’t very far and just up the road from Taksim square, but we would need to get into a cab. I was feeling adventurous and thought, I’m a big strapping lad, what could possibly go wrong and I had a mate with me too, so it was all good…..

On the way, to what I later found out was a place called Aksaray, our new friend was telling us about how the high society of Istanbul hang out at these clubs and that it was also full of people from all over the world. I can tell you, I was feeling lucky J.

We pulled up to the front of the club, it was called Bacardi and the doormen opened the taxi door and welcomed us, to be honest I suddenly had a funny feeling in my gut. The whole street was covered in neon, pink, blue and green…. it reminded me a little of Soho back in London. We were ushered to the front door and made our way inside. The strong smell of smoke was the first thing that hit my senses, and then it was the cheesy 70’s music that reminded me of Starsky and Hutch. The walls, floors and seats were covered in lush red velvet. This is when I realised that I’d been suckered into going to a type of strip club without the strippers. Anyway, we decided it wouldn’t do any harm if we stayed for one drink and there were a lot of pretty girls dancing on the stage, so what could happen. We ordered a beer each that to be honest tasted a little watery. Then one of the waiters came over and asked us if we minded if one of the girls joined us and if we preferred any particular one, we being gentlemen said sure. This tall very attractive woman came over and sat down, I asked if she fancied a drink and before she could even answer a small bottle of champagne and a glass was but on the table. The poor girl looked about 18 and couldn’t speak a word of English and my Turkish was only good to order a beer and a loaf of bread. Anyway we all looked at each other for about 10 minutes and then she just got up and left. We thought this would be a great time for us to leave too, so we asked for the bill, it came over and I nearly passed out! We were being charged approx. £100. I called the waiter over and he was accompanied by a very large man. I said there must be some kind of mistake, how can two small beers and a glass of fizzy something or other cost nearly £100, I mean this was a time when a beer in a 5 star hotel cost £2.  “This is the price and you must pay” he said, by that time we were all on our feet and another two burly guys had joined the conversation. My mate and I just looked at each other, dug out the cash from our pockets and paid. We knew if we hadn’t we probably wouldnt have been able to get out of there in one piece…..

Overall it was an experience that I’ll never forget…. And looking back it was kind of scary…. So be warned…. J

Meet the author


Mark moved to Turkey from London in the 90’s and has worked as a Producer/Fixer/Cameraman for some international news agencies.

He is currently a freelance photojournalist and travels all over Turkey and the Middle East on assignments. He is always looking for new challenges and believes he will never lose the travel bug. Mark truly believes that experiences should be shared….