PHOTOS BY RICHARD SHEINWALD
Tel Aviv jumps to life
in the dead of night.
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
on't ask where the action is.
Party-goers start to prowl after midnight
through the streets of Tel Aviv. On a Thurs-
day at 10 p.m., the evening is quiet and bars
aren't full. Not yet.
Around midnight, scantily clad bodies be-
gin their ritual of week-night drinks and
dance. The action builds. The music blares.
Bars fill with celebrants going strong until
There is a flip side to the Holy Land. It's
hip, alarmingly Western and weirdly irrev-
erent. Tel Aviv, at night, is as hot as its sun-
scorched pavement by day.
"Before you come to Israel, you don't think
of this place as mod, but the girls here are
righteous," grins 28-year-old Dave King, a
tie-dye hippie transient from England. "The
smaller their clothes, the better."
Zoned out to reggae, a group of young men
and women bob and groove in front of a base-
ment mirror. The Soweto bar attracts an
ethnically diverse band of Jews in neo-dav-
ening mode. Ethiopian, Russian, Israeli,
American. There are tourists, but mostly
natives and olim. They dip. They sway. They
sit on orange couches and chain-smoke be-
neath a disco light and posters of Bob Mar-
Keren, 21, says the Israeli social scene is
both dangerous and safe. She explains: "You
can walk any day, any hour down the street.
You can go anywhere alone. That's what is
"But Israel is a small country. Everyone
knows everyone," she says. "If you sleep with
somebody, everyone will know about it the
Above: Etan Katz, 35, is a painter and
owner of a bar decked with his art.
Left: Royal Oak, eat your heart out.
This is Tel Aviv.
Cars are parked bumper to bumper on
the popular Dizengoff and Ben Yehuda
streets, lined with restaurants, bars, one-
hour photo shops and cafes. (Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem both have famous Ben Yehuda
streets.) Frustrated motorists drive vehicles
onto the sidewalks and park there. Never
mind the tickets.
Twenty-four-hour food stands sell dried
fruit, nuts, magazines and beverages. Bus-
es careen around the street corners and
members of the grunge crew, apparently in
their teens, lung out at 2.a.m. near a curb-
Hardly past their non-existent curfew,
these jeans-wearing, halter-topped and T-
shirted young people exhale cig-
arette smoke into the humid
night air. A_boy and girl make
out against the hood of a car.
There's something MTV and
something rather 1950s about
this picture. It seems as decadent
as Beverly Hills 90210, as sim-
ple as Green Acres. Many secu-
lar Israelis are charged with a liberalism
that would shock the mores of even the most
open-minded Americans. Children and par-
ents alike shrug their shoulders at the
thought of living with a boyfriend or girl-
friend after military service. No big deal.
If you're old enough to die for your country,
you're old enough to have relationships, they
say. Babies out of wedlock also are becom-
ing more common.
"It's not weird anymore. It's not strange,"
says Doron Bacher, 40, a husband, father
and Tel Aviv businessman.
Says 22-year-old Eran Harash, "People
want to be together. They want to have a