Morocco, a majority-Muslim nation, isn’t usually associated with nightlife and partying. Indeed, because many Muslims do not consume alcohol, it can be difficult to find non-hotel bars even in its major cities.
But head to its largest, Casablanca, and your assumptions will be smashed.
Here, imbibers mix easily with teetotalers. It’s not unusual, say, to see women in headscarves sitting in laid-back lounge bars with bare-headed friends — the latter swig cold bottles of beer. And there’s far more there than quiet drinking spots. The city also hosts wild nightclub parties, where throngs of well-heeled youth flock to popular weekend spots to drink and dance the night away to blasting music.
To get you started, here are some of the best spots to imbibe.
Start the evening at Sky Bar, a see-and-be-seen outdoor boîte that faces the Atlantic Ocean. Located inside the trendy Villa Blanca hotel, French-speaking locals dressed in designer clothes gather here to sip French wines and mixed drinks on cushy lounge seats. DJs spin music from a built-in booth, but the noise isn’t too raucous; this bar manages to maintain a cozy atmosphere conducive to conversation.
For those looking to rage, head downstairs to the hotel’s V Club — a movie-theater-turned-nightclub — where the party thrives until the wee hours of the morning. Shake to the beat of pounding house music in a large space lined with banquettes and female go-go dancers lit by fluorescent spotlights. Try grabbing a space behind the DJ booth to take in the full display. Then join in on the fun.
Nearby, Cabestan Ocean View stands on a rocky perch above the Atlantic. Consider pre-gaming here in the daytime for an outdoor, oceanside beer and then, why not, stay for nighttime thrills. Cabestan hosts two new dance parties that began last year, featuring musical sets from African, European and American DJs.
“This is the Way We Dance” is held twice a month on Thursdays, bringing in Black Coffee, Culoe De Song and Lady Bee to the turntable; “Entourage,” held every Saturday, features Ten Walls, YokoO and Chaim.
Looking for a quiet dinner or a film buff who wants to ring in this year’s 75th anniversary of “Casablanca”? Head to Rick’s Cafe.
The name will sound familiar to those who know the movie, but the 1942 classic was not filmed here. Rather, former US diplomat Kathy Kriger opened this space in 2004 in homage to the fictional site. Head there on a Sunday night to munch on couscous dishes while listening to live jazz.
But on Tuesdays through Saturdays, grab a seat near the piano to hear entertainer Issam Chabaa, whose set list includes an appropriately crooning version of “As Time Goes By.”
Here’s looking at you, kid.
Royal Air Maroc flies nonstop to Casablanca from JFK (from $850).
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