Best Place to Smoke a Hookah (2001)

R&R Lounge & Grill

For the uninitiated, hookah is not another rap artist term for ho. It is the "fragrant nargile" of Orientalist reveries, the hubble-bubble of General Allenby's Tommies. It is a device for smoking that passes the scented smoke -- a mixture of tobacco and dried fruit such as apples or apricots -- through a water bath, cooling it. A common sight at cafes throughout the Near East, hookah smoking has been slow to catch on in the USA. Middle Eastern cafes and nightclubs are offering a "hookah service" to their customers more and more frequently. Sometimes the pleasure can cost $20 an hour. At the charmingly frowzy R&R Lounge & Grill, the two principals offer a pipe of tobacco for a very reasonable $6. For those who attend the unique "Goth Belly Dance" events held every Tuesday night, a hookah of fruit-scented tobacco is the final prop in a multicultural stew of an evening that is, well, so gosh-darned American.


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