May 2013 - Oriontrek

Jemaa El Fna-Marrakech-2

Marrakech nightlife

There is something for everyone in Marrakech, from Pacha style discos to traditional belly-dancing. Music is at the heart of cultural life in Marrakech. It is the best place to enjoy the fusion of Moroccan music, as the city has been the host to Andalucian, Arab, Berber and African influences for up to 10 centuries.

The medina provides traditional entertainment with it’s cafés, food stalls and street artists. Most of everything is happening around Jemaa el Fna, where many of the best performers can be found. For good bars and clubs, head for Guéliz and Hivernage. You will find most of the basr clustered along Avenue Mohammed V and around place Abdel Moumen ben Ali. There you will find a wide variety of restaurants, bistros and sidewalk cafés as well. The city’s best nightclubs are located in Hivernage hotels or in venues just outside town.

Although Morocco is an Islamic country, there is a laid-back attitude towards alcohol, with bars in most tourist areas staying open late. In the medina, law and etiquette dictate that alcohol should not be consumed openly within view of a mosque, so drink discreetly indoors or on roof terraces.

All the big hotels also have bars. One of the most glamorous in the city is undoubtedly Le Bar Churchill, at La Mamounia Hotel, which has a sumptuous Moorish and art deco interior and a strict dress code. It is named after the hotel’s most famous guest and is the perfect place for an aperitif in jazzy 1930s style.

Although Marrakech has a reputation within Morocco for nightlife, clubs are an expensive extravagance where behaviour doesn’t conform to strictest Moroccan codes of propriety. Music tends to be a mixture of Western pop music, Moroccan hits and funky DJ mashups.

Pacha Marrakech is the nightclub with the magnetic pull to attract DJs away from New York and Amsterdam so on the right night you won’t regret the taxi ride from town. If you feel like going make sure te be on time during the weekend. It has a capacity for 3000 and you’ll be lucky to squeeze in once you’re late. Best thing to do is to have dinner at one of the two restaurants before you make your way to the dance floor.

Anyone with an interest in music should head straight for Jemaa el Fna. The best time to go for music is in the mid- to late evening, as the square gradually empties and the dedicated street musicians take over, playing their repetitive, rhythmic melodies on a mixture of banjos, lutes, guitars, flutes, drums and makeshift violins. The most enchanting of the styles on offer is Gnaoua trance music, best exemplified by

 

Casablanca

Casablanca

It has both the advantages and disadvantages of a typical large north African city and commercial capital. It is Morocco’s largest city and the country’s main port which translates into quite a few gritty and industrial-looking neighborhoods. On the other hand Casablanca is also the most cosmopolitan of Morocco’s cities, with clubs, fast food chains and high end boutiques. Not to forget an upcoming contemporary arts scene, beautifully restored French colonial buildings, good markets and an authentic old part of town.

What to See and Do in Casablanca

Hassan II Mosque – It took 6,000 Moroccan artisans and five years to build this magnificent mosque, with its intricate mosaics, stone and marble floors and columns, sculpted plaster moldings, carved and painted wood ceilings. It’s the largest mosque in the world with room for more than 100.000 muslims. Tourists, or better, non-muslims are not allowed inside apart from some areas within an official tour.

Visit a Hammam – Try a steam bath and scrub in a traditional hammam when you visit Morocco. Recommended places for a good scrub are: Solidarite Feminine (an amazing organization that runs Hammams and also provides services to unmarried women and their children) and Les Bains Ziani.

Place Mohammed V – The main square in town, the Place Mohammed V has a large, at night beautiful lit fountain surrounded by fantastic examples of French colonial architecture.

The Corniche – the Corniche is a boardwalk lined with restaurants and nightclubs. It’s where most locals go for dinner and fun. Walk down the Corniche and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze, especially after spending some time inland. You will need a cab to get there but the fresh air is worth it!

Shopping – Casablanca’s old part of town is small and a good place to just get lost in as you explore the shops. It offers a nice contrast to the wide streets and modern architecture that marks the rest of Casablanca.