Khalid's Guide to Amman, Jordan
Profession: Design student/model/writer
Relationship Status: Single
Where is the best public place for a gay person to make out in Amman?
That is a funny and so hard to answer kind of a Q! in Jordan it's very hard to make out, though it's easy to show DPF, like hand holding, touching… but making out, mmm, not sure though, if you have a car maybe though hehe. I once made out with this guy that I dated few years ago under this bridge, he was like "I need to experience something with you, let's make out here" and I was like mmm ok! It was exciting!
What is the best date you ever had in Amman? Why?
I never had that experience of the 'perfect date' yet, but I might've if I gathered all the ones I went through. I remember this guy that I went out with like a year ago, we went for this veggie sank, we walked to the ice cream shop then we sat on a side walk in a calm street under the street light. I knew the kinds of questions to ask, which led him to tear a little… a hug was made to be and holding his hand was just intense. It was a nice memory at a nice time…
What are some of the things you love most about your city/town?
Amman is an on growing city that is developing into the open mind culture, you see straight people partying and socializing with the gay people, and the metro-sexual scene is starting to show. Amman is starting to appeal to the new cool. Events are just every where; you just have to look for them. I like that's open minded, welcoming and friendly when it wants to be. When you put an effort into an outfit or so, people realize it and they tell you so, even on the streets… in their own way! Other things that I admire in Jordan is the rise of the educational percentage, awareness toward many issues like pollution, health, child abuse, women's rights, and HIV…
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends there?
For sure Books@Cafe', it's a restaurant, bar, café' and lounge at the same time, it's spacey, buzzed up at times and it's a famous local gay hang out, I'm friends with the owner, he's super friendly, he'd mostly stop to say hi and welcome new faces. You'll just love him. It's perfect for gay night outs with the friends.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
My favorite would be 'Fame', it's a restaurant between the 5th circle and 6th circle, I just love the quiet, jazzy atmosphere it generates the person. The service is just perfect and the music is just soothing. I always make sure to sit under this wall painting that have the world's most famous legends of all times, which is a perfect thing to bring up during the date, trying to guess all the faces, off course I know them all by now.
Is there a particular best place to "people watch" that most people not familiar with your town would find helpful?
I like the exclusive pub '101' in Jabal Amman; it's very under ground, literally, cozy and oldies kind of a feel. They have a pool table, a nice bar, and this album collection hanging on the wall that I like to go through every time. You'd go with your best pals, chat over fries and diet coke, you could dance a little as well… you're just at your cool room.
What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs? What do you like about them?
The only gay club we used had was RGB, and it closed earlier this year, after that, I didn't attend any other; I do the party scene whenever I travel though. But here in Amman, I like Cube, they have this 80s disco night every Wednesday night that I'm a fan of.
What is the gay community like in your city? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene"?
I can't describe myself to be under any scene, that's not for me to do! However we do have the gay scene in Amman, which is mostly like all the other gay community around the world; gossip-ish, friendly, bitchy, updated, lovely… I like chilling, I like quiet, I'm known with my friends that I like to spend quality time in all the unusual places, night outs, movies, shopping…
Do gay men and lesbians hang out in the same places in your town, or is that just a ridiculous notion?
You could say both, lesbians hang out mostly in all the usual gay places, an the rest is unknown, there could be spots for them to hang out, but not any that I know of. So yea, both mostly. However the lesbian scene is rising and starting to be noticeable.
Does your town have a LGBT pride celebration? Do you usually attend?
The only gay celebration in Jordan is probably Halloween, where gays are themselves in the act… we don't have any official gay ones.
Do you have a particular fashion style? Where do you shop for clothes?
I consider my style to be retro and vintage that meets city street fashion. I'm very much inspired by the 1980's, from its lifestyle, music to its fashion and colors. I like mixing short with long, revealing areas and balancing by sheering the rest. I express myself through the way I wear. There are no particular shops that I head to; I'm all over the place! I shop from second hand markets to find all the weird and nice pieces to keep, plus vintage shops and styling them with new and modern pieces. Whenever I travel to Europe I make sure to shop from all the unavailable stores in the local market.
My favorite stores: Modern Amusement, The House of Holland, and Top Man
If you had gay friends visiting from out of town for the first time, what are some "musts" that you'd recommend they see or do?
Most of my friends are foreigners, and whenever they're around in Jordan they'd all mostly visit the usual things; Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Dead Sea, you know tourist areas. But there are always the hidden places that only the locals and the city lovers would only know about. I
always take my friends to check the panorama area in Dead Sea that they never heard of. I take them to my favorite beauty store in Amman "The Soap House", it's a local organic brand that makes hand made soaps, oils, scrubs, and body lotions and so on… they use Dead Sea minerals and aroma therapy.
Also very oriental café/restaurant Jafra downtown which is an old-musky kind of a place that gives the exact feeling of what oriental feels like. I insist they'd visit a small store in 'Jabal Amman' called 'Love on a Bike' it belongs to this Jordanian artist that I know. I love her shop and my friends just fall in love with it every time, it's stands out from the rest of the stores beside it, it pops with its turquoise front wall!
There's always this beige fush-bush cat hanging around. The artist sells her art work which varies from post cards which are scans of her art work, to special antic diaries that she designs, paintings and other stuff. In summer, Jara market that opens every Friday in Rainbow street in Jabal Amman, they turn a whole street to vintage selling point, where you find all kind of stuff. Make sure to visit this point of T-shirts called 'Jo Bedu' they sell hilarious slogans that locals just adore. I recommend you'd give these exclusive spots a visit.
What city (or cities) in America would you most like to visit next, and why? Are there any specific spots there (theaters, nightclubs, historic sites, etc.) that you'd really like to see?
Mmm, I'd probably visit NYC the first. I'm a city kind of a person, I like the quietness of the country area, but not as much as I love the city buzz, and I think New York is the best to impose that image. I also have friends living there, it'll be great to see them and crash on their couches! I'd also like to give this night club called "Therapy" a strut! It's in the middle of the new gay village that they call "Hell's Kitchen!" I heard it's fantastic from there lounge area that has it's runway that leads to it, which is perfect, to there comedy and cabaret shows. I experienced that kind of entertainment in Paris's clubs, and I felt comfortable there, you can't get upset, and if you do, you're forced to push a smile weather you like it or not!
Khalid is a Jordanian model and writer and artist. He's also the spokesperson of My.Kali.magazine, nad is the first "out-in-the-media" gay person in the Middle East. He can currently be seen on the cover of My.Kali.magazine. In addition to his aspiring modeling career, Khalid is prepping to launch his art work in December 09-January 2010.
All images courtesy Tom Hafner of THE Photography. Visit the site by clicking here.