As a thirty something muslim woman growing up in England some of the more westernised sources of ‘fun’ such as going to the club for a dance with the girls or meeting up with friends to have a drink was never an option. As a teenager unbeknownst to my parents (sorry mum if you are reading this) I often used to skip college to go with my friends to a shisha cafe. This is something that my mother still frowns upon but has chosen to put in her box of things that she does not approve of but also doesn’t feel is worth the fight.
As someone who has visited a fair few shisha cafes in my day can I just put it out there that I am confused.com about the dress code. 15 years ago when shisha cafes were small indoor spaces playing Nancy Ajram and offering very few flavour combinations the vibe was relaxed and you could spend most of your day bunking off college and smoking one shisha pipe for 3- 4 hours. The staff happily came to top up your coal until your pipe was giving off smoke from the coal itself as you had burnt all the flavour out by smoking it for so long. I would go in casual clothes and there was always a mix of people. All generally just minding their own business.
Fast forward to present day and it is a completely different experience. With the change in laws shisha cafes are now indoor outdoor spaces (of course something I support) but gone is the simple relaxed vibe and in coming is the LED lights, club music, array of fine dine foods and a mixture of younger girls dressed scantily in high heels, others who have come straight from work in business attire and then the chachas in the corner in salwar kameez (at least the appeal of shisha cafes to all has remained the same).
What once was a half day event is now a maximum two hours with a minimum two per shisha rule and a likely £50 spend. In contrast your other option is the illegal indoor option which often from the outside looks like a closed shop and entrance is only permitted if you know someone who knows someone. Once you get inside you quickly realise that the place is shady as hell and that you should probably leave pronto.
Now I am all for each to their own but each time I go to a shisha lounge I continue to feel like I must make more and more effort in my appearance and then on the same hand when I get there feel slightly overdressed. Can anyone else relate?
I am calling for a dresscode not so we can all look the same but so that I can confidently walk in without feeling like I walked into a wedding reception, interview or pyjama party dressed for the wrong occasion.
By no means am I saying that when I walk in everyone looks at me like I am some queen arriving into my kingdom but there is an unwritten level of understanding in other places whereby your attire matches your surroundings. I would not wear my cosy matching loungewear set to a business event nor would I wear one of my evening gowns reserved for wild ladies only wedding parties to go buy a fish fillet meal at McDonalds.
Maybe I’m old, maybe i’m wrong but for me this first world problem is real. Shisha delivered to your home anyone?
What do you wear? Have you ventured back into a shisha cafe since the lockdown restrictions have eased? Let us know in the comments!