When the Night Falls in Malé City

Alexa Pol, Maldives Breakout Festival2009
Rock music artist Alexa Pol, performing at Maldives Breakout Festival 2009. Live music has also begun to integrate itself into the Malé lifestyle.

As the sun kisses the horizon on the western side of the capital Malé City of Maldives, as usual people of all ages go out on the streets to enjoy another evening. The sun slowly disappears over the western ocean and young couples can be seen riding around the city. Some of them dressed in their best, their faces made up in anticipation of the approaching night, enthusiasm clearly visible on their smiles.

As the sky darkens the streets are bathed by the headlights of motorcycles and cars, the elderly slip away into teahouses for their fair share of fun. The youth slowly disappears into their favorite coffee houses or cafés, as they welcome and embrace their nightlife.

It is an almost daily routine. Since the introduction of 24 hour open cafés and restaurants, the coffee culture of Malé has grown exponentially, and for the youth it has become part of their life. Teahouses have existed for quiet sometime. While women seldom visit the noisy teahouses, cafés are usually packed full of young men and women.

Perhaps it is the crude nature of the teahouses that cause women to shy away from them. However the teahouse is one of our cultural motifs that has lingered on through the swift development of the small island of Malé. It brings out a strong manly and local attitude. It could be called the equivalent of the western bar.

The caffeine was a quiet recent introduction. It can be said that the birth of our coffee culture came along with the establishment of 24 hour cafés. After sundown such cafés fill up with youth that just want to spend a good time. While some of those cafés provide weekly live music, others provide a quiet environment where people can just share their ideas with their friends.

Unlike the western civilization where the nightlife consists of a mixture of night clubs and alcohol, the Malé nightlife is in a way unique and unlike any other.  Perhaps the only aspect of the Malé night which is similar to foreign countries is going to the cinema. Malé City has one major cinema where Maldivian movies are screened. A new movie is released about once a month or so, and the cinema is usually packed full of people of all ages.

Live music has also begun to integrate itself into the Malé lifestyle.  While bands often play in resorts, live performances by Maldivian bands are sometimes held in Malé. In different occasions foreign bands have also performed. Such a band would be “Arch Enemy”.  Some remarkable music festivals have also been held in the Malé, including the “Breakout Festival”. One of the cafés in which Maldivian bands perform live would be Seahouse Café.

Nights without music are usually spent on discussions and arguments about hot topics that touch incredibly vast areas of the human life. Such topics include politics science and business. Most importantly it is the time spent with friends and colleagues that they all value and treasure. It is a very different intellectual community of Maldivians, one that has adapted to the new age.

The crowd thins out towards the dawn, and as the sun rises and the streets are owned by joggers and exercisers. The night crowd slips away under the safety of their blankets. The sun rises over the eastern horizon and there is nothing quite like it. The solace of the night air left behind, the calm quietness of a new day dawns upon a sleeping city.

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