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A Different Kind Of Smoking Experience

Trying the Hookah Pipe At Deja Vu Midway

By Reviewer Rob

I drive by Deja Vu Showgirls on Midway Drive almost daily on my way to my post office. Its pink walls and tall chimney on its patio are a kind of beacon inviting a detour into the parking lot the full nude stripclub shares with the Paradise Lounge bar next door. One day recently I noticed a signage out front that described something I wasn’t aware they had inside: a hookah lounge. ‘Well that’s new,’ I thought to myself as my attention shifted back to the road in front of me, and I made a mental note to check it out later.

I was editing a story submission for the upcoming issue at the time about the possibility of pot getting voted in as a legal recreational drug so I wanted to see if this was a way of the strip club setting itself up in case the opportunity arises where they have a new product to provide their customers.

It’s just a fact of local demographics that a large portion of San Diego stripclub customers are Navy and Marine so I didn’t fake surprise when Midway manager Dakota said over the phone that much of his clientele is military. He said most of these guys first try hookah while deployed, so coming back stateside and finding it here is a natural transition. But according to Dakota there’s no plans to include pot in the smokables offered at the club if pot does become a legal option in San Diego bars or retail outlets.

Dakota offered a rational moneymaking reason for his stripclub to not it. It’s because marijuana’s intoxicating effects would be too much of a non-producer/de-motivator and the guys wouldn’t tip as well. “They’d just sit there,” he said.

In the covered smoking patio of Deja Vu the Friday night I stopped in there was a large crowd of young guys inside around the stage and a swarm of dancers milling around chatting up the boys. Outside in the smoking patio is where the hookah pipe table was set up with a few couches and lots of coushiony pillows in a semi-circle to form a lounge.
Johnny, the ‘hookah guy,’ is an Iraqi Chaldean. His father brought his mother and three sisters over the mountains of Turkey when he was a newborn shortly before the first Gulf War. “It’s something that’s in my blood. I’m Middle Eastern. I grew up with this,” Johnny says proudly while tapping a can of hookah. Then he’s back to the staging area behind the table with one or two hookah pipes set up behind stacks of cans containing the flavored molasses and wood chip smokables. His hands move quickly as groups of customers line up to rent the pipes and he cleans bowls, lights and replaces coals, refills water in the pipe and reloads the sterile plastic nipple that goes on the end of the hookah hose that a person puffs out of, where the lips actually touch. Each nipple is used once then thrown away. Another then comes out of sealed plastic wrapper for the next customer. Before I arrived to do the story I hadn’t really planned to actually try it. But Dakota asked what my favorite hookah flavor was over the phone when I called before I arrived and that got me thinking about it more. So in the spirit of inquiry and true reporting I thought I might look into it.

Then when I got there we needed a person for a photo, so Victoria, one of the dancers, showed up and said I should try “Sex On The Beach,” her favorite hookah blend, How could anyone really refuse the pretty girl?

So there I was, doing the hookah thing, and I notice right away that there is really no harshness at all. The water of the pipe chills it so thoroughly that it’s almost like inhaling cool, sweet-flavored steam. At least that was first impression. So I try a larger puff, and an even larger puff, inhaling deeper and deeper. Then I cough. Feeling a bit self-conscious at this point I look over at Dakota who is in the couch area and he nods and gives me the thumbs up.Then the buzz starts. It’s heady at first, moving into a full body rush that is calming and makes me want to find a seat in the cushions and hang out. The hookah pipe is my new friend. Not too bad a way to spend an evening in the company of these dancers. If you want drinks and dinner there’s The Paradise Bar & Grill right next door too. Each bowl of hookah is $20, and you get to take the pipe off in private. As a price comparison they had hookah down the street on Rosecrans at a coffee shop for $14.95. That’s of course without the naked dancers. Nightclubs are all about mood and atmosphere and hookah appeals as a unique, flavorful way to enhance it. The few big puffs I had kept me slightly sedated for most of the rest of the night, so it’s effective at creating mood, especially if you’re going to be around a harem of girls.
Who knows if they will have legalized marijuana in California as a recreational option by the time you read this. Many people agree that if it happens the state will earn a windfall in taxes on pot and save a lot of money on unneeded law enforcement. But for now in stripclubs in San Diego, which may be the heaviest regulated jurisdiction statewide, hookah is an appealing non-tobacco option for adult exotic entertainment. I plan to be back to investigate it again, when I’m not working and able to relax more.

Johhny th ehookah guy.

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