B018 Review

After The Basement’s demise earlier this year, B018 automatically became my absolute favorite club, in the world. Apparently, I am not the only one that thinks so. B018 ranks 6th on WorldsBestBars.com’s Top 100 and 40th on DJMag’s Top 100 clubs. To compare, Sky Bar is 62nd on DJmag’s poll and doesn’t even appear on World’s Best Bars page. Let’s start with the basics:

The Name

Pronounced: B (bee) 0 (written as a zero, pronounce as the letter O) 18 (eighteen).
Written: B018 NOT BO18
Origins: Founder, Naji Gebran’s apartment was number 18 in a block B back in the 80s, where the B018 concept began. Contrary to popular belief, it does NOT mean Be-Over-18.

Origins

Start: 1984, Beirut
First Location: 1993, a warehouse in an industrial area of Beirut
Second Location: 1998, the current location in the Karantina area

Location’s Significance

B018 is located in the Karantina area, which is Arabic for Quarantine. This part of Beirut used to be where foreign crews were screened for diseases in ancient times, and in more modern times, more specifically during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) it housed some 20,000 refugees. The area saw horrific violence and the refugee camp was completely obliterated and its residents displaced.

The area’s terrifyingly macabre aura and history make it an unlikely spot for an entertainment hub. But that’s exactly what it’s become. B018 is Beirut’s oldest and most legendary club, and it sits buried in an area that has been synonymous with pain and discord for centuries, chasing away the ghosts of the past.

Architecture and Design

Everyone knows that Bernard Khoury designed B018. It is arguably his most famous creation. From the highway, you might mistake it for a humble parking lot. However, at night, the sounds and traffic will definitely show you otherwise.

The above-ground structure is an unassuming metal facade with a massive hydraulic apparatus that articulates the infamous retractable roof.  Concentric circles surround the metallic, subterranean structure, where cars complete a full rotation around the club before finding a spot in one of the outer circles. The headlights of clubbers’ cars reflect off the surface of one of the roof’s retractable sections, which along with the city lights, create the only dynamic visual factor in the club below.

The comfortable sofas are foldable, serving as both a seat and an elevated platform for the more restless happy feet. It might be interesting to point out that the wood used in making the chairs comes from coffins, adding to the cryptic feel of the bomb-shelter inspired club.

The many unique and bold features of the club’s design and architecture have landed B018 in every single architecture-related journal and magazine. The vibrant and energetic club is a stark contradiction of its surroundings and as Bernard Khoury explains, a perfect protest to the neglect this area of the Lebanese capital has suffered over the years.

The Music

B018 is a massively underground club. Its pedigree is endorsed by the world’s biggest underground names, from Dany Howells to Nick Warren, to the M_nus crew, James Zabiela and many many others. The club hosts the gods and goddesses of underground electronic music on a regular basis. It has also harbored many of Lebanon’s artists with underground street cred such as Lumi and Fady Ferraye.

From electro, to techno, to minimal, to nudisco, to house and progressive, there’s always a deliciously digital genre blaring from the speakers and spilling off onto the highway. Big Al, Gunther, Stamina, Fady and Ziad are the resident decknicians and will always make sure you get the bass massage your internal organs so desperately need.

Other days, B018 plays host to a completely different type of music, from funk and jazz, to pop and rock and 80s music. It’s usually on Thursdays, and sometimes on Mondays. But Friday and Saturday are always dedicated to the club’s reputation-making deep, underground, electronic masterpieces.

My Two Cents

B018 is my ideal venue. It is underground, yet can be glamorous when it needs to be. It has amazing DJs all year round, yet can play host to virtually any musical heavyweight. It is ancient, but has yet to lose its luster. I’ve become close friends with many of the people behind this club, especially Ziad and Gunther. I hold the mayorship of B018 on Foursquare, and have done so for well over 18 months straight. I’ve checked in there a total of 67 times, which is a LOT.

I am disappointed to see so many people get the wrong impression about B018. Its afterhours operations earn it underserved notoriety of being infested with drunks and junkies. Well, I don’t really drink alcohol and I don’t do drugs and I can vouch the same for most of the people that frequent B0 (although they probably drink more alcohol than I do =P). So, to whomever thinks they’re too good for B0 and wouldn’t go there in a million years, I say THANK YOU! Good venues unspoiled by fish-face poses, cheap cigars and way-too-much makeup are a rarity, and B018’s notoriety does serve an indirect purpose: filtering the clientele, watering down the vanity and selecting for more genuine music lovers that go clubbing for the music, not for their Facebook’s mobile uploads album. So, if you want to dance, long and hard to music you didn’t listen to on the radio on the way over to the club, B018’s for you. If your friend’s birthday sucked, or your date was a flop, redeem yourself and save your night after 2:00AM at B018.

There’s no better feeling than going to a club on any given day, dancing for hours, opening the roof to let the smoke out and the cool in, and eventually let the sunlight flood the dancefloor and bar. My advice to you is, go on a weekday (except Monday, cause it closes) and leave at around 7:00-8:00AM and point your fingers and laugh at all the people stuck in a traffic jam on their way to work or school, while you go home to sleep through the day and recover.

Club: B018 Karantina
Location: Karantina (near Forum)
Music: Underground Electronic
Resident DJ: Gunther & Stamina, Fady Ferraye, Big Al and Ziad
Price: 30,000LL entrance with one drink for walk-ins after 2:00 AM
Door Policy: 18+
The Verdict: Divine

Comments

  1. says

    Gino,

    One: you once told me you don’t like B0 :P So I was kind of surprised to see this article here which I loved by the way as always :)

    TWO: Door policy – flexible. Here’s what happened with a group of my friends last time I was there this summer: My friend who’s 25 had reserved the table, but his younger brother who’s only 18 went before him with the rest of the group and got in. When my friend and his 25 year old friend got there a bit late, they wouldn’t let them in claiming that “the door policy is 26+ tonight.” What the hell? What is this bullshit of changing the door policy everytime they don’t want to let someone in? This doesn’t only apply to B018 by the way.

    • says

      Im sorry to hear that Sarine =( We never had trouble going on… Maybe the bouncers were mean that day, to be extra-safe, I usually call their number a few minutes before and ask if we can come walk-ins that night.

      I hope the guys at B0 see your comment!

  2. gregios says

    hey Gino,i would like to add some extra info on ur definition about BO18,just wanted to add that at first the Club was in a chalet at Samaya Beach Resort,so as we all know that the chalet are numbered so this one exactly was BO18,after a while of partying at the Chalet,Naji and friends and whom it concerned to get in the Chalet at that time.So an idea popped up that it would be great if they could open up a Club naming it BO18 as it is right now,so they jammed their ideas together with Bernard and opened it at Sin el fil,near the exhibition Centre,after a succesful time and a booming nightclub leader at that time something happened between the owners and one of them faced a divorce with his wife,so at this time Bo18 was closed for a moment and suddenly another club was opened at the same place Called Orange Mechanics,a really fancy modern Club back then,so the owner of that Club was the wife of the BO18 owners.After a booming start as well she was surprised by the new BO18 which opened it’s doors to a whole new idea and concept design which was unique in the Middle East and so also then the BO18 was absolutely a hit as we say a new star is born ;} and the story of Orange Mechanics survived a while and shot down,so BO18 had a free space on the Club scene in Lebanon to achieve its highest targets and to attract thousands of world visitors to enjoy Clubbing in Beirut,thank you

  3. chet says

    I partied at B018 this past month and had the time of my life. I am from Canada and to party like that is rare in this part of the world….Thank you B018. I miss you already and can’t wait to go back….

  4. Valerie says

    Hey thr,
    The B018 club is soo cool,i would love to visit. I am currently in Kenya. Would u mind arranging th trip 4 me?I would b more than honored if i visited th Club.plz…
    Thnx.hope fully i wil hear from u soon :)

  5. says

    Hi there! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the good data you could have here on
    this post. I can be coming again to your blog for extra soon.

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