Living up to its reputation as a modern nation, Amman’s nightlife thrives. After the sun goes down, the streets light up with every color under the sun and laughs echo from the coffee houses, bars, and restaurants. Here are eight things to look for and prepare for after dusk:
After the regular five o’clock rush hour and everyone coming home from work, you would think that it would be pretty easy to get around town later at night. You thought wrong. The lack of traffic laws like staying in your lane coupled with the highway/winding side road dichotomy that plagues Amman will leave you in a sea of cars filled with young people looking for a good time. But if you’ve spent a decent amount of time in city you will have built up a tolerance to traffic that would rival any white collar office workers.
America has it late night snacks in the form of Taco Bell and McDonalds with drive thrus and a value menu which will leave you full and your arteries begging for mercy. Amman on the other hand is dotted with small stands with giant cauldrons steaming sweet Levant corn for the late night crowd. It’s also extremely cheap like American late night food but you won’t wake up wondering why your body hates you in the morning. You can find these small stands pretty much anywhere along side streets and main streets.
3. An Empty Wallet or Bank Account
For those that are trying to imbibe a little in Jordan, be advised: You will spend all your money if you’re not careful. This being a Muslim majority country, there is alcohol but it is extremely expensive. One night I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday and decided that I would have some Jameson. I ordered a double and when the bartender handed me the drink she told me with a straight face: 14 JD. I thought she was joking. With the exchange rate that’s around $20. For one drink. So be careful and have enough for the cab home. Some of the more popular spots in Amman are La Calle on Rainbow street and Cafe de Paris on the Paris Circle.
4. Unlit meters
During the night time expect taxi drivers to try and take a little more advantage of you. I’m not sure if they assume you’re drunk or more desperate to get home but they will definitely try harder once the sun sets to cut a ‘deal’ with you. Hold your ground and insist that they not cheat you out of what few dinars you have left after the club.
5. Flashing Lights and Neon
Epileptics would do good to stay away from the streets at night. Not only is there neon of every shade in every shape imaginable, but there are also flashing lights that some restaurant owners use to attract more people. While this might work in some cases, most of the time all it does is draw your eyes to the annoying flash. But the lights are still beautiful at night and the twisting outlines of the Arabic names are actually very cool.
6. Dress Code
While some might be expecting to see short skirts and unbuttoned shirts during the night life will be slightly disappointed.
Those that were expecting the short skirts that is.
There are definitely a lot of dudes displaying more chest hair than they should. Conservative dressing still happens during the night, but the Jordanian women still dress up for the occasion. There’s a sort of elegance in their going out style that isn’t as common elsewhere in the world. Guys however, still dress the same as you would expect with button downs and jeans.
While there is definitely a cultural gap between men and women during the day, that gap closes during the night. Mostly.
There are still groups of men wandering around joking with each other and looking at the women. And there are groups of women going out seeing how many eyes they can catch. And there is the same apprehension to approach one another. While Jordan definitely represents its tradition during the day, the Amman Nightlife dynamic is definitely similar to something in an American bar. The guys and girls mingle and there’s the same nervousness we’ve all experienced when we see the hot guy/girl across the bar.
Last but not least, expect to have fun on your night out. Jordanians are some incredibly warm people. Though they’ve gained a reputation for being somewhat serious, when it’s time to play they have a good time. The smiles are infectious, the arak is sweet, and the argilah is just right. If you do anything, don’t forget to have fun. Talk to some of the locals, try out your Arabic if you know a little, and generally relax. The day is over. Now go have some fun.