MENU A Guided Tour of Istanbul by DJ Yakuza

A Guided Tour of Istanbul by DJ Yakuza

February 1, 2011

Pictures by Iva Bozovic

We’re back!

Welcome to another guided tour of Istanbul with Dj Yakuza alongside none other than the inimitable Dr. Richard Dorfmeister.

I believe no introductions are needed for Dr. Rich, his name will bring back fond memories to most of you here, and if it does not than you have been living on the dark-side of the moon for the past, oh, I don’t know, 15 years… (but do tell us please, are there any secret bases up there?)

The following events take place between 4 pm on Saturday the 17th and 4 pm on Sunday the 18th..

I will try to trace back all the action leading up to and winding after a memorable evening at Babylon.

Dr. Rich after having landed from an uneventful flight made his way to his hotel in the company of Efe, guide and all around nice guy, while I was trying to get stuff done surfing the crazy traffic of the city. We duly met around 4 pm and opted to grab a cup of coffee before heading down to the club for the sound check. Yes, yes, we actually do sound checks, not all the time agreed but we do our best.

The place best suited for our needs was a little cafe called Simdi, which means Now, on Asmalimescit street, just off Istiklal Caddesi..

(For geographical placement and more info on said street which is also the name of the neighborhood, just to confuse you a bit more, please refer to Rootdown does Istanbul blog piece on this very site, yes!)

After having found a cozy corner we opted to go for Turkish coffee until the hawk-like eyes of Mr. Dorfmeister spotted the coffee machine, and old Italian number, looking full of potential and the promise of a rich dark brew. We dutifully switched our orders to Espressi and started talking about the upcoming night. The consensus reached was that we would start things slow and build gradually to allow for a certain musical richness.

- How to order Turkish Coffee -

As long as we are on the subject allow me to explain very briefly the subtleties of ordering a proper Turkish Coffee. The particular method of making this acclaimed beverage starts with a very basic premise, you tell beforehand the amount of sugar you want in it. Putting sugar afterwards is a very serious crime and is punishable by law.

There are 3 basic sugar-modes :

Sugarless : Sade

Medium sugar : Orta

Lots of Sugar : Sekerli

And 2 intermediate ones for the really picky :

Little Sugar : Az sekerli (between Sade and Orta)

Cok Sekerli : Loads of Sugar (though if u order this one you might as well drink hot water with sugar.)

You are free to experiment on the above mentioned modes until you find the right one for you and then stick with it, life is oh so easier when you don’t have to stir sugar in your coffee. (Trust me it is, you’ll see)

After having had our fix of caffeine and a piece of cake too, we made our way to the club. Babylon, as I mentioned before is Istanbul’s premier live-music venue playing host to all kinds of musical goodness, and now they even have a web radio too! Check it at

Sound checks are actually quite useful though sometimes can get tedious and boring, after having re-configured the placement of the decks and the table we proceeded to check the sound system which was very good. No glitches there. After Dr. Rich was satisfied with the results we decided on the right lighting, not too dark, not too light, with a bit of red thrown in there to warm up the club. The lighting contrasted well with the open-brick walls and at this point, we were ready for the night ahead.

The few hours leading to a night are always interesting, a mixture of feelings, anticipation, stress, happiness all mixed in together. After having had a little apritif, we joined Efe at a small meyhane just across Babylon for dinner.

The usual Meze suspects were all present, topped off in style with some fried Hamsi (a close cousin of the European anchovy) all washed down with some Turkish white wine. I stress the Turkish part because the wine making industry has been growing steadily in the past decade and wine lovers from all around the world are very pleased with the results. I would usually go for Raki to accompany such good food but having to play after having some is a bit confusing and, more to the point, its very difficult to find a proper drink to follow it with. It was then unanimously decided that the drink of the night would be white wine. Always a good idea as it doesn’t weigh you down like some other drinks tend to do.

Having the duty of opening the show, I started spinning around 22, gently preparing the crowd for Mr. Dorfmeisters sonical feast. While keeping things nice and easy in the sub 115 bpm range, the club started filling up and reached optimal numbers just as Dr. Rich was ready to play.

The opening track, a superb edit by Dimitri from Paris of Norma Jean Wright kicked off a musical journey through styles and tempos making Babylon jump up and dance. Towards the end of his amazing set and after all the posers had gone (they were a few yes, not a lot but still.) and to the delight of the dancers, Dr.Rich started spinning some of his classic signature tracks. A few nuggets from the K&D sessions, mixed in with some wobbly bass laden grooves made for a very special night.

As the crowd was leaving the club we decided to grab a bite to eat, as we tend to do and headed down to a special little place called Canim Cigerim, translated roughly to my life my liver, dont worry it does make sense in Turkish. Big servings of fresh herbs such as mint and roquettes with lemon accompanied by skewered liver and lamb meat and some grilled onions and tomatoes made the perfect witnesses for the end of this memorable night.

Aftre having decided to meet up for breakfast, everyone headed back home for some well deserved sleep.

The next morning was a rainy, gray sunday, and the perfect place for breakfast around this area is a little place called Lokal, bang on Tunel square where you can find a fast breaker for every taste.

After this, the best way to continue the day is to take a stroll down towards Galata, sipping on some freshly squeezed pomegrenate juice and window shopping the myriads of music stores lining up this little street..

With time running out as Dr.Rich had to catch his plane back, we said our farewells with the hope of seeing each other sooner rather than later…