Dig Baton Rouge

BLOWING SMOKE

By Myron Smothers

After a long week of work and deadlines, a turn up is often needed. However going out can get old; flashy lights, loud music and tons of people is not always the move people want to go with. But now Baton Rouge has new alternatives popping up around town, a popular one is hookah lounges.

Hookah lounges have become more and more popular in the United States in the last decade, though Baton Rouge was a bit behind the latest wave. But the Red Stick is slowly picking up to this trend. Brian Reed, manger and part owner of Xhale Daiquiri and Hookah Lounge on Bennington, says both he and his team noticed Baton Rouge lacking in this department and wanted to help fill the void.

“We love hookah and want everyone to be able to enjoy this beautiful tradition”, said Reed. “Whether you’re drinking, eating, or talking to friends, it’s always fits in perfectly”, explained Reed.

As you may have guessed from the name, hookah – or narghile – was not invented in the United States, but in Ancient Persia…or India – we don’t really know for sure. Smoke from flavored tobacco, also called shisha, is filtered through water and into pipes that users can inhale from. In fact, they are very similar in function to the very popular E-Cigarettes – just more old school. We do know that the first hookah’s appeared in the sixteenth century, and since then have spread across the world as a way to relax with friends.

Hookah lounges tend to have a comfortable setting and laid back vibe versus the high-energy turn up of many nightspots. LSU student Bridgette Jackson can agree.

“Clubs are sometimes just too much”, said Jackson. “I’m a fan of hookah lounges because of the atmosphere; it is relaxing and never overbearing”.

Reed says hookah lounges have been known to be a nice place to go unwind and socialize with friends. He describes as Xhale as a traditional hookah lounge with a twist. They incorporate DJs, artist, musicians and promoters and they have several different nights during the week including ladies night on Thursdays.

While there are many fans of hookah lounges, some are not too fond of them. LSU student Cimajie Best think hookah lounges are a cool concept, but has concerns about them as well. The water makes the smoke milder than a cigarette, but the smoke is still tobacco smoke.

“I think they are a fad and that most people don’t realize how harmful they are,” says Best. “People won’t smoke a cigarette but will down a hookah because it’s flavored; it’s all tobacco people.”

Reed did admit that while a hookah is not necessarily good for you, neither is alcohol.

Baton Rouge hookah lounge population is steadily growing. Reed and Xhale are just one of the several around town, like Vapor Life and B R Hookah Lounge. But he says they aim to make their lounge unique by offering special events such as live art shows, open mic, and comedy shows, as well as working with local promoters, to give their customers and the community memorable experiences.

“We not only believe in amazing hookah”, claims Reed. “We also love to see the amazing talent of Baton Rouge shine in our venue.”

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