Monique Jaques is doing important prep work for Europe’s latest dance craze. She’s helping to vacuum-seal sandwiches for dancers at Turkey’s first ever lunch beat. Jaques is a photographer from New Jersey. She’s helping organize the event because she likes the concept.
“Rather than sit in a cafe and have lunch for an hour, you can dance,” Jaques says.
It all began two years ago with 14 people dancing in a parking garage in Stockholm. The founder says she was inspired by the film Fight Club to write a manifesto for Lunch Beat.
“The first rule is if it’s your first time at Lunch Beat, you have to dance,” Jaques says. “The second rule is, if it’s your second time at Lunch Beat, you still have to dance.”
There are other rules. You don’t talk about your job at Lunch beat. Water must be served as well as a take-away meal. No alcohol or drugs. Lunch Beats can’t be longer than 60 minutes and must happen during “lunch time.”
“The manifesto is 10 rules that dictate what Lunch Beat is,” Jaques says. “If you follow those 10 rules, anyone can have a Lunch Beat, host a Lunch Beat.”
Another American DJ and co-organizer James Halliday is helping set up the venue, an underground concrete club in the Karakoy neighborhood.
“The music will be funky, it’ll be nothing too mainstream,” Halliday says. “We love the space, the vibe is very unpolished, it’s very – kind of – come as you are. It’s brief, hour, hour and a half, get in, get out, go back to work. Have fun.”
Halliday says Lunch Beat offers a great alternative to the packed weekend nightclub scene.
“People don’t need to be all over the place in terms of their obligations,” he says. “They can come here, dance, take a lunch on the way out and get back to it.”
When the crowd drifts in, curiosity appears stronger than the desire to dance. Most are Turks, Americans and Europeans of the artist, hipster tech and design variety. Amer Arab is a software engineer.
“I thought there would be alcohol, to be honest,” Arab says. “But there’s no alcohol. But it’s going to be a good party anyway. I’ve never danced sober, but I’m willing to try it.”
While the manifesto specifically calls for one hour of music, the event operates according to Turkish time, which is not so precise. The dance floor swells to 20-odd dancers, with a larger crowd lingering outside checking things out.
Selin Oransayoglu says dancing and club culture is still new in Istanbul and that Lunch Beat is a welcome development.
“But still the idea is weird for me,” he says. “Without alcohol, just a lunch, just sandwiches and stuff. You go to a club in the middle of the day and you just dance. Okay. Like a sport.”
Artist Selin Kocagoncu says Turks are still too concerned about the opinions of others to really let loose. But she expects they’ll be more comfortable next time.
“The idea is brilliant I think,” Kocagoncu says. “One hour, dance party. People overwork, start early and can’t get really a night’s rest. This is the perfect way to energize, actually re-energize and get your nutrition as well.”
One thing you won’t get is a shower before heading back to work. The first US lunch beat is planned for Wednesday (June 6) in Queens, New York.
Subscribe and follow The World’s Global Hit