You may have seen hookah bars in more ethnic neighborhoods of your city or town; you may even live in a bigger city and pass a hookah bar every day. Hookah bars are dark, mysterious, and seem somewhat forbidden or at the very least, members-only. But what is the history of hookah bars? How did they come about? What is hookah smoking? In order to understand all this, we need to go all the way back to the western provinces of India nearly 1000 years ago.
History of Hookah Bars: What is Hookah Smoking: In order to correctly understand why we have hookah bars, we first must investigate what hookah smoking is. Hookah is a water pipe; according to Princeton’s definition, hookah is “an oriental tobacco pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is cooled by passing through water;” so hookah smoking is what colloquial language would basically call smoking a “bong.” But thefirst hookahs were made from a coconut shell base; the tube where the smoke was inhaled through was designed to smoke opium, hashish, and eventually “tombeik.” Tombeik is a dark tobacco which is grown in Iran; hot coals to wet tombeik elicited a strong flavor.
History of Hookah Bars: How did Hookah Bars Come About: Hookah was made into cigarettes for the busy men to smoke while the women would continue to smoke the hookah at home as they entertained. Hookah bars eventually began popping up when hookah appeared in Turkey some 500 years ago. Many of the well-to-do appreciated the hookah smoking experience and wanted to be able to enjoy hookah on the go but wanted more than what the hookah cigarettes alone could deliver. So hookah coffee shops began appearing where the actual hookah could be smoked and enjoyed outside of the home while still using a common water pipe.
History of Hookah Bars: Growth of Hookah Bars: Around 300 years ago hookah bars spread from Turkey to Lebanon to Syria to Egypt to Morocco to Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates. Hookah bars became something of the Middle Eastern water cooler or break room; people would all get together and discuss global politics or local events. Despite the fact that hookah bars were quite popular, there was still an air of mystery surrounding them. In some Muslim countries they believe the Hookah to be forbidden. Hookah bars eventually migrated to the United States and Europe in the 1960’s where they remain popular to this day; some hookah bars have even begun popping up countries like Japan.