Morocco is an enigmatic land chockfull of Arabian charm complemented by a pinch of western flare. As a westerner you never quite know what to expect in a Muslim country.
My expectations, having never before travelled to Morocco, were as high as the Arabian sun. I longed for a Middle Eastern voyage, an enriching cultural experience, but was first pulled inadvertently into the underbelly of Moroccan nightlife.
Arriving in Agadir it was apparent this coastal town was a tourist haven, trounced on repeatedly by the western foot. And while there's no doubting the extent to which Agadir has been westernised, some endemically Middle Eastern charms remain unaltered.
Most of them, however, are more easily discovered after a tipple or two. So if you don’t indulge in the occasional refreshing alcoholic beverage, or if you look down upon those who do, I recommend, like a hapless DJ, you skip this entire beat.
To get sufficiently lubricated Chris – my travel companion and great mate – and I started at English Pub. Now I know what you’re all thinking, probably jumping to the conclusion that we’re playing perfectly into the British-on-tour stereotype but nothing, as you’ll see, is further from the truth. And yes, it is actually called English Pub.
A stone's throw from our resort, English pub – both in name and practice – had other appealing attributes, serving up affordable beverages and permitting even the most inept singer to bellow karaoke tunes. I do need to emphasise it was merely the first pit stop on a whirlwind tour of Agadir's finest evening establishments.
We both, after I performed Right Said Fred's "I'm too Sexy" and Chris sang his finest and beautifully haunting rendition of Robby William's Angel, had our fill of karaoke for the evening and agreed, to most other patron's delight, to move on to Mezzazique, a quintessentially Moroccan night spot.
Walking past a bulky uncompromising bouncer and down some elaborately decorated red stairs into the belly of the venue the first thoughts, "what were we getting ourselves into", sprung to mind, the entrance replete with seedy, immoral overtones.
But as we sauntered into heart of the establishment, I quickly realised it was a classic case of incorrectly judging a book by its cover. A classy and upmarket cabaret, the place was teeming with life, grandiloquent decor sparkling and gleaming off of the perfectly dimmed overhead lights.
Like tightly packed chimneys on a cold, crisp Victorian England winter's eve, smokestacks billowed from a collective of shisha pipes across the red-hued floor. Many westerners would be put off by having to share their air with shisha smoke, but the contrary was true for Chris and I. It all added to the allure, to the wholly Moroccan experience. And that was just the tip of our culturally infused iceberg.
Sipping on a rum and coke, it didn't take long to notice the centrepiece of the evening's entertainment. Wearing, as one would expect, traditional and colourful Moroccan garb, a woman in her mid-20s passionately belted out Arabic melodies, her angelic voice tickling our ears while stimulating various other senses. She was a true vision, her physical appearance matched only by her stunning vocals.
Locals danced sensually, moving their hips and bodies fluidly in sync with the music, a stark contrast to they way my limbs awkwardly contort while cutting shapes and busting white-man moves on the dance floor. This time I opted out, not wanting to draw any more attention then necessary to us, the only two westerners in the venue.
Sticking out like sore thumbs, we caught our fair share of obscure stares, some of pure intrigue, others of discontent and outrage. Both of us, however, had expected this kind of blended welcome.
Carrying ourselves in a respectful and considerate manner, we didn’t foresee any problems arising.
And that’s not to say you can’t have a rip-roaring good time. As long as you’re conscious that you’re not in your own backyard and act accordingly, you should be fine.
Tables were at a premium so we stood swaying back and forth at the bar, neither of us having a clue how to move to music so foreign.
It didn’t take long before being approached by a pair of Persian beauties, one of whom Chris mistook for a Persian goddess. Whether for a bit of excitement, adventure, pure and unfettered skulduggery, or for a Hail Mary attempt at procuring a western passport, their intentions were crystal clear from the onset. A prospective proposition was forthcoming.
Flattered, intrigued and unavoidably roused, I answered sternly, “no thanks”.
I have a feeling my girlfriend wouldn’t have taken lightly to an answer of the opposite accord. It took a few more refusals, each one more blunt and churlish, before diminishing her enthusiasm. Tails between their legs they walked away, probably in search of their next unsuspecting western prey.
Thinking nothing of it, we carried on with our evening’s festivities, frequenting some of Agadir’s other well-known nightspots. We had come to the conclusion, by night’s end, that being propositioned by local women is, in fact, more common than reading a Justin Bieber news headline. Just be wary of taking this particularly tempting Agadir road less travelled by. By the way, Chris was also firm in rejecting the vixen’s numerous advances.
On to Marrakech I thought, now yearning for that aforementioned enriching cultural experience.