Ocean View: Beirut Sporting Club

A Seaside Getaway to Lebanon's Beacon of Faded Glamour

With the same look and feel since its opening in the 60s, Beirut’s Sporting Club is beloved by sun worshippers across the city: from bronzed bikini-clad demoiselles with Gitanes perched on their lips to oiled-up, portly men playing backgammon under straw hats. Lebanese photographer Rasha Kahil captured the scene earlier this summer. “I’ve fallen in love with it: the way it’s rundown, yet luxury. The aesthetics are very contradictory,” she says. Unlike the glittering beach resorts that have been sprouting up on Lebanon’s coast in recent years, the low-key hideaway drips with nostalgia for an authentic Beirut culture. It wears its unassuming status with pride, denoted by worn-off wall paint, concrete platforms and rusty umbrellas emblazoned with advertisements for the much-loved local beer, Almaza. While it's been the subject of some controversy over the years, the club is nonetheless an emblem of the country itself: a place where people of all ages, sect and social standing mix, lured by the sun, freshly-caught fish snacks and a drag from a narguilé. “At the end of the day, people love it. It’s representative of the country as a whole and its war mentality,” says Kahil. “You don’t think, you just have fun.”

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