Istanbul - I'm in a dark, smoky club that's jam-packed with fashion-conscious Turks and a sprinkling of foreign expats. There's an overhead balcony for viewing the scene, but you can feel the rhythms best in the open dance area.
An energetic French band is playing hiphop-techno-jazz fusion on a tight close-up stage. I take a sip from my bottle of Efes Dark ale while Sandy and Nina pulse to the combo beats. This is Babylon, an über-trendy live music venue in Taksim, Istanbul's nightlife district.
Earlier, we'd started the afternoon quietly enough, drinking sweet tea and playing backgammon on a side street off Istiklal Caddesi. The Turks are consummate backgammon players, and the street is filled with a steady click-click as the pieces fly across dozens of wooden boards simultaneously.
Breaks are taken only to light up another cigarette or to order another round of Turkish coffee so thick it's automatically served with a water chaser.
When the sun set, we moved on to Nevizade Sokak, a noisy alley running from the James Joyce Pub to the fish market crowded with seafood restaurants and patio-style bars. We pulled up a couple of stools at a place called Ihsan and snacked on sigara böregi (cheese rolls) washed down with a couple of pints of local brew.
Now, at the Babylon, the French boys have played their last set, though one of the band members has stayed on to DJ some serious soul music. We decide it's time for a late-night snack and head up the street. This time the thing to eat is chicken dürüms ordered from open air stalls. They're so hot we burn our fingers.
At Taksim Square, we negotiate with a taxi that has music tumbling out of its windows. It's trashy 90s pop tunes, but the girls are in high spirits and start up their dancing again in the back seat. Our driver is overjoyed. He shifts into fifth gear and turns up the music, all three speakers jumping. After a few songs, the girls are able to control their giggle fits and ask him to lower the volume.
"Where are you from?" he asks.
"Canada," I reply.
It's the only English he knows, so he laughs, slaps me on the knee and turns up the music again.