Do you read Dickens? If so, the name of this club will ring a bell. No doubt named after Charles Dickens' first novel (in which a Mr. Pickwick runs a club called 'The Pickwick Club'), this local nightspot is one of the few places for a cold-ish beer in town.
It used to be that you could go on Thursday nights and meet a regular "British Embassy-type" crowd. I seriously doubt this is the case any longer, if only becasue expats in Khartoum used to only number in the hundreds and are certainly now well below 100.
Don't look for Mr. Pickwick behind the bar, however. It's more likely to be a soft-spoken local gentleman.
There is really no lightlife in Khartoum.
Everything must stop by law at 11pm, even weddings.
The centre of Khartoum in the evening is like a ghost town.
Dress Code: Women should show as little flesh as possible, and a scarf should be carried in case the situation requires it.
I'm sure everyone has seen images of Arab men puffing away on tall water-pipes. Well, chicha, nargileh, hookah, hubbly-bubbly, or whatever you want to call it, has made it to Sudan too, although not as noticeably as elsewhere in the Middle East. Chicha in Sudan comes in two varieties...tufaah, which is apple-flavoured tobacco, and jaraak, the harsh strong plain tobacco favoured by Halfawis. Chicha does NOT contain cannabis, contrary to popular myth...do you honestly think an Islamic country would allow that?!
Banned in Wadi Halfa and Gedarif, chicha is generally frowned upon by most of the population, but a large number of men (and a couple of very rebellious women) will admit to enjoying a quiet chicha and a glass of tea in the evenings. Chicha dens can be hard to find...in Khartoum, you have to look especially hard, while in Kassala they seem to be everywhere you look.
Dress Code: You can wear whatever you like to smoke chicha...I'm not using this space for wise words on dress, but instead will give you some handy chicha vocab:
Ya weled, jeeb chicha! - Oi, waiter, bring a chicha pipe!
Tufaah wala jaraak? - Apple tobacco or plain?
Jeeb naar - Bring coals
Jeeb faham - Bring coals
I'imil lay wahid tani - Bring another one!
Out in the desert, there is no nightlife, other than what you make yourself. Watching the sun go down, then enjoying a cup of tea as you watch the stars come out, can be very rewarding. With very little light polltion, the stars shine very brightly and numerous and are a delight to see. You will no doubt want to retire to bed early, as you will be up before the sun to make the most of the cooler morning.
Aragi is Sudan's riposte to Islamic Sharia Law - homemade alcohol that can burn holes in your liver. Because it's illegally made the strength (and colour, although it's usually clear) varies, from watery and weak to mind-blowing throat-melting dynamite. In the south there are occasional stories of moonshine alcohol mixed with god knows what that wipes out dozens of people at a time, but most aragi in the North is perfectly safe and pretty consistent.
If you're a tourist I wouldn't recommend buying any without some Sudanese friends, plenty of whom drink, Muslims included, but let them suggest it first. It's not drunk that regularly (depending on who your friends are!) but it might make an appearance at an evening with a group of friends - a single glass filled from a plastic water bottle passed around and downed in turn. Remember it's highly illegal and needless to say there can be stiff punishments if people are caught.
There are some places to drink in the open air. I used to regularly visit a friend in Fitihab in Omdurman who would insist we went out for a drink. It all felt a bit like buying crack cocaine in London! Some Nuba guys dealt it out of water bottles on a street corner - bring your own glass - and then you hurriedly down it in one before anyone comes. In theory a stiff drink under the open stars should be very enjoyable but to be honest the haste and secrecy of it all kind of took the enjoyment out of it.
Like the Middle East, everywhere in Sudan you'll see people (well, men) smoking hookah pipes (water pipes/hubbly bubbly etc), usually referred to here as shisha. You'll probably smell them before you see them - the delicious smell of apple tobacco wafting through the evening air is one of the most welcome in Sudan.
Like eating, smoking shisha is a communal activity and best with four or five friends to share a pipe. Places you can smoke range from trendy garden restaurants, poor rooftop shacks, village squares, to slightly sleazy cafes in Khartoum that apparently double as discreet gay haunts. In other words it's pretty much everywhere!
It's usually only Sudanese men that smoke shisha but exceptions are sometimes made for foreign women - I've been to a few places with British women (together with Sudanese guys) and had a few raised eyebrows but no problems.
I don't smoke cigarettes but I find the taste of the apple tobacco delicious. Some of my favourite nights in Sudan were spent lying back on a rope bed at my favourite shisha haunt on a rooftop in Omdurman souk, looking up at the stars and puffing away on a pipe with some friends.
Nightlife as most people know it doesn't really exist in Sudan. Sharia Law means no alcohol, so there are no (legal) bars and certainly no nightclubs. In some of the displaced settlements you might find some Southern style parties with Congolese music and illegal liquor but this is rare, extremely dangerously illegal and not something tourists will see.
As a foreigner in Khartoum you can score invites to the regular expat house parties and gatherings if you want, where you'll find plenty of alcohol and occasionally music and dancing. Unlike the Southerner's parties there's not much chance of a police raid here and their existence is well tolerated provided it stays indoors.
Overall, Sudanese nightlife is pretty much restricted to sharing tea with friends, going to the cinema to watch an old Bollywood film... you get the idea! When I arrived I really thought I'd miss nightclubs and going to the pub far more than I actually did - it's just something you get used to.
Nightlife in Sudan is limited, to say the least! Small towns go to bed at dusk, as some places do not have electricity...I remember having a very hungry early night in Kerma, because everyone was asleep by 8pm. In the cities, there are things to entertain yourself with, such as cinemas (usually Bollywood or Jackie Chan), clubs (not nightclubs, I mean expensive tea-drinking clubs), concerts, folklore, etc... The main locations for the last few are cultural centres and the big hotels. If you don't have the big bucks required to indulge in this too often, then you'll be limited to drinking coffee in the street at one of the little stalls. Sometimes, you'll come across a chicha den, where chicha (nargileh, hubble bubble pipe) is smoked, but these are exclusively male only. If you spend any time in one place, quite likely you'll be invited to a wedding...don't miss it, but expect to steal attention from the happy couple, and beware the camcorders and big TV screens, there to catch you dancing strangely! Parties always end around 11pm, as there is an unofficial curfew in place in many places starting around midnight. Then there is alcohol, but shhhh, I didn't tell you about that! (see warnings and dangers!)
Dress Code: I've been dragged along to weddings in dirty jeans and creased t-shirts, and nobody batted an eyelid. That said, if you are in the capital and heading to a formal entertainment, then make a bit of effort...I don't mean ballgowns and black tie, but a shirt with buttons and a smartish pair of trousers is probably expected...not being one to practice what I preach, I don't own such things!!
None in particular. Hope to get invited to a private party and you'll have an amazing time.
Again, those great, great people...
Dress Code: No shorts, nothing too garish, but otherwise the Sudanese are rather relaxed that way.
Nightlife in Sudan isnt drinking in bars and dancing in discos. Most people just seem to take walks, sit and chat and drink tea or mineralwater in small cafes etc. I had a great time just sitting and chatting with the locals over a tea or mineralwater either at home or out in town. To my surprise alot of people spoke english and it was easy to make contact with the locals. THE PHOTO: SOME OF THE GUYS I SPENT MY EVENINGS WITH.
Nightlife - What’s that? In the country side it seems that the locals enjoy to sit together in front of their houses and have a chat!
As always I have to include a couple of sunset pictures. This one was taken from the Blue Nile Sailing Club in Khartoum.
Africa Road, P.O. Box 12290, Khartoum, Sudan
Good for: Couples
Cornich St, Port Sudan, 79800, Sudan
My wife and I lived in the Burj Al-Fateh Hotel for 5 months. The staff (and there's plenty of them)...more