What else can I say....but sheesh....

The main attraction at Lounge XVIII, 1005 17th Avenue, SW

“This is a water pipe,” says Andy, by way of explanation of the decorative apparatus placed on the floor at the head of our table, a hose leading up to the table top. It's shiny and clean, and embossed with intricate accents on the bronze pieces. At the base, there is a fair amount of water, and there are lemons, oranges and some herbs bobbing around in the liquid.  There’s a long shaft—probably about two and half to three feet in height, so the top of the pipe is near the top of the table.

“And there are some coals up here,” he continues as he shows me the top of the hookah. It has a little openings you can make larger or smaller to regulate the rate at which the coals burn by controlling the air flow to them.  The coals are glowing, a dull, deep, red in the small chamber.

“Now, take the little mouthpiece they gave you (we each have our own), and put it into the hose.”

“And then, inhale, taking the smoke into your lungs.”


Do I tell him I know what this is, and that, just maybe, I’ve used one before? A time or two... or ten?

We’re sitting in Lounge XVIII, an upscale shisha bar around the corner from my apartment. It’s one of three or four on the Red Mile, and it looks like the nicest one, so I’ve asked my son to take me here on this evening, along with his girlfriend Gabby. 

Shisha lounges have been around Calgary for several years now, and they are steadily rising in popularity--a response to the growth in cultural diversity in this part of Canada--one that I know has been embraced by people Andy and Gabby's age...so why not give it a shot?

The doorman (yes, there’s a very cool looking guy at the door--all muscles and braids tied into a pony tail) smiles and waves us in—must wonder why these two twenty-somethings are bringing their mom out to smoke.

Very cool exterior; nice when the patio doors are opened

People are all around us, sharing different blends (there’s quite a menu—mostly fruit and herbs…peach?!), eating bar food (impressive food menu—Andy and Gab both have some food; I’m too intrigued by the water pipe and the whole concept of this place to eat), and the tables are talking amongst themselves.  There’s music in the background that gets progressively louder as the evening wears on, yet there’s no dance floor and not a lot of interaction between the tables.

What is the purpose of this, I wonder?

So…who makes up the pipes, I wonder—the bartender or the chef?  And how do they clean them?

What exactly am I sucking into my lungs?  It kind of tastes like the fruit in the water, and it kind of tastes like….burning (I think someone said that on the Simpson’s once, I’m not sure).

I don’t get it.

Never thought I'd see this......much less encourage it.....

But it’s interesting, and I’m pleased my son is comfortable enough with me to venture out to a shisha bar (granted...he didn’t know anyone there, but still….)

He says there’s another place he wants to take me to—another shisha bar he thinks I might like better….but it’s not on 17th.  So it will have to wait.

Maybe for a while.  

Weird. Not the place--just the concept. Maybe in a different setting I would find the experience more.....engaging.

I do have to say the Lounge's website is great: check it out here.