Nov 10 2017

The conservative Turkish town that has become an Iranian party city

The conservative city of Van in eastern Turkey is an unlikely place to visit for its nightlife.

Yet according to The Economist, the city has welcomed more than a third of a million Iranian tourists this year, many of them eager to take the opportunity to go clubbing.

“Late into the night, streams of unsteady patrons, including elderly couples and women in heavy make-up and miniskirts, stream in and out of basement nightclubs, many of which cater exclusively to Iranians,” it said.

Both drinking alcohol and public dancing are illegal in Iran, and wearing the headscarf is compulsory women – all restrictions that do not exist on the Turkish side of the border.

Van is about an hour’s drive from Iran, but closer alternatives are either much smaller and less welcoming, or increasingly unsafe.

With Iranians able to travel to Turkey without a visa and parts of the culture more comfortingly familiar than destinations further afield, more than 2 million Iranians are projected to make the journey this year.